I understand why you’d think the pen is mightier than the sword, but not when you’re out on the battlefield. There you can’t toss scriptures of fighting tactics into the enemy’s face. You wouldn’t be able to do without a certain amount of dexterity with the sword. Extending the same thought on to knowledge, it is important to understand that knowledge doesn’t guarantee or beget skill, practice does. Practical application is often just as important, if not more, than the written word. Books need to be revered, and we all know that, but cognizant as we all are of changing realities, we should realise that education also needs to equip students with practical exposure as much as theoretical knowledge.
Exactly what the science laboratories were meant for in school. We needed to get in there to know just how the chemicals changed colour. Sitting in our classrooms, we could have only struggled with the textbooks. Application not only clears doubts but makes sure lessons are learnt for life, and not just the next exam. It helps de-emphasize the unfortunate stress a lot of us tend to lay on rote learning.
Sadly, for most of us today, and that includes our institutions, education is something one needs to hastily get over with. This is why there is no planned framework for how kids could take topics from the textbook out into their lives. Especially in college, when more often than not, you’re doing what you intend to pursue all your life, you can’t rely on a five hundred page spiral notebooks (that most people sit down to read only a couple of days before the exam) to equip you with all you need to know. More concrete initiatives need to be planned and implemented. Watching a movie on rural India is not sufficient for development communication, a field trip to the nearest village is. Mugging-up theories is not important for psychology, researching with a specific subject is.
Education needs to focus more on vocations in this job oriented era. There is a need for better planning and a sea change in our ideas and definitions of knowledge. Application, exposure and experimentation will definitely prove to be akin to life support for the dwindling sheen of our education system. Not only will they annihilate fear from the minds of those who have the potential but hesitate to test it, they will definitely clear a lot of misconceptions for those who think they know it all. I was one. I thought I knew exactly how everything worked till I got to the lab.
Making mistakes will always remain important in life. Science, art, commerce or vocational studies, education should fulfil its rudimentary goal of helping students think for themselves. Important lessons will be learnt once they test themselves, falter and discover.
All of us realise that our schools and universities can’t really boast of the resources to help us spread our wings, and learn through practical exposure. But really, it’s like asking students at NIFT to sketch on paper and never get around to actually stitching. It’s that basic an issue.
Phenomenally talented people from our country go out into the world today and manage to make a name for themselves. It’s not always a choice. And we as a country, owe them the infrastructure and motivation to feel free to dream and fly right here. Brain drain doesn’t just happen, it’s rooted in the unfortunate inadequacies of our education system. The lack of stress on practical exposure goes a long way in shaping our sensibilities towards a particular subject. It’s incomplete knowledge, a lesson left unfinished, consequences of which we shall carry with us for a very long time to come.
Post by -Lata Jha