Why real goal of education should be regaining wisdom

Published: June 3, 2019 1:47:45 AM

Educational institutions need to take charge of spirituality and reintroduce the same. Students need to wander across the ocean of life without fear.

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By Indira J Parikh

In modern times, job-based, skill-based, knowledge-based education has gained primacy over everything else. This mindset is in contrast to the ethos in the ancient times when learning was all about values, and when wisdom was the cherished goal. What has happened to that wisdom?

While the colonial period in India revolutionised education, it also destroyed the basic fabric of education and learning. The focus on ‘certification’ to acquire jobs in the labour market gave rise to a system laden with mediocrity.

Mediocrity has continued. The essence of the teacher-student relationship, coming from the gurukula system, seems to be a thing of the past. Outsourcing is now the norm, with the family outsourcing its life-coaching role to educational institutions. Similarly, work organisations outsource responsibilities to coaches and mentors.
In this global era, is there anything new that can be offered to regain the ‘wisdom’?

Educational institutions need to take charge of spirituality and reintroduce the same. Students need to wander across the ocean of life without fear.

I recently met a few young women who were educated in a small town. They were requested to sing bhajans. They sat down quietly, folded their hands, and began to sing in the most devotional manner. When I asked them about their schedule in college, they replied their timings were from 5:00 am until 10:00 pm.

There were no off-days either for them or for their teachers. They all knew how to cook, to take care of themselves, of the institution, and their families. They enjoyed learning and gaining immensely from the vast experience of wisdom available from their teachers.

There is hope of regaining that wisdom and life skills. Liberal education is rooted in our cultural heritage, giving teachers and students the freedom to explore knowledge and environment. Educational institutions need to prepare the youth to live life, and not just be ready for employment in terms of being skilled, but hollow within.

We need to create a generation that is anchored in values and experiences self-worth and self-esteem. They should discover a purpose and meaning of life, spirit of inquiry, and innocence. What is required is deep relatedness between the teacher and the taught. There has to be exposure to different aspects of life that creates fulfilment and simplicity.

Finally, education has to nurture the simultaneous multiplicity of meanings that create relatedness with the world around. We are hopeful for the forthcoming generations that ‘liberal education’ and other models to be discovered within—that are neither alien nor archaic, and deeply woven into our lives—provide the rays of optimism. We need to push ourselves into restoring them.

(The author is founder trustee, Dalham Foundation. Views are personal)

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