Why formal education is ruining us

24th September 2009

Don’t you think formal education is highly overrated? The mad rush for acquiring degrees is even more confounding. All degrees are manmade. Yet, the kind of respect given to it is far more than essential attributes in a man like common sense. Happiness, peace of mind, creativity, satisfaction are hugely compromised for the pursuit of the same.

Some people give me the argument of doing formal education for gaining knowledge. To an extent that may be true but if knowledge is what you require you can gain it by doing what you really want to do. Go online you will find hundreds of websites giving you information. Why do a degree for that? The only reason you are doing it is to either get a job or because you want to be accepted by the society. I am not saying these are bad or invalid reasons but do know the real reasons why you are doing it.

The best learning I had was at my college festival Umang. Simply because I was doing it. I did everything in the real world and learnt it. Away from all the jargon, we managed money in the real world. It is infinite times better than sitting in a classroom or at your house trying to imagine how a company must be doing it. We had our own products, which we created and we marketed them. I have never understood the big names given to various processes by big academicians and researchers but I know the process to do it. Seemingly complex terms and fundas are simple things that you and I already know. Start doing stuff you will automatically learn business. The concept of B-Schools in India is quite flawed. Lots of people feel that 2 years in a B-School transforms you into a person who suddenly gets a xx lakhs per annum job. The reality is that you came in very smart and hence, you get what you get. Go into the real world and you shall learn the tricks of the trade if you are really smart. Start a business to know what a business is. Most consultants who advise companies have never themselves started any companies. If they were so smart, why didn’t they use their skills to start a venture and make millions out of that.

I have a theory for this. I think there have always been only 1-2% really wise and smart people on the planet over thousands of years. They knew the vulnerabilities of the human mind and devised this formal education structure which would ensure a steady supply of functionally well-equipped people who will do all their tedious jobs. The only thing you really have to pay them is money( I know of very few people who will not switch organisations if they are offered double what they earn even if the subsequent job is more mechanical) Most of the formal education has complicated life rather than simplifying it. In fact it’s almost become a business in India. They will keep telling you how tough things are and so you need to undergo formal programmes. That is how they will make money. Some of the reasons why many coaching classes run in India are preposterous. Most state boards in the country and the way evaluations and examinations are conducted are an insult to the basic intelligence of mankind.

One erudite teacher of mine (whom I have highest regards for) asked me not to evaluate the quality of professors at a prestigious institute of India because that according to him arrogance. He may be right and I may be arrogant but really, I believe a 23 year old has the sense to know or at least the right to choose what he thinks is right for him. Some professors are just very bad. I have started doubting whether so many professors/teachers who taught me in school or college themselves knew completely what they were teaching. At that stage one blindly follows what is told because you are conditioned to believe that what is told to you by teachers is gospel truth. Many of your concepts in life maybe so flawed because of them. This also brings me to the subject of the power of a good teacher. A good teacher can really impact a lot of lives and a lot of good teachers can transform the way a generation grows up. But teachers need to be freed from the clutches of rigid current system of formal education, for them to make an impact.

The amount of energy one spends trying to adjust one’s mind to the system robs it of all the energy to create something new and meaningful. Structuring has killed everything. If a student cannot concentrate continuously for x hours in a class, whose fault is it? You should create content which is so engrossing that he/she is involved. Our minds were meant to be creative. They need to wander off to think about new things and get distracted by the marvels of nature and the environment around them. And education has to be in harmony with this. The most brilliant people I know do not follow rigid structures to do what they do best. They are one with the rhythm of the universe.

Picture source:naset.org

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