Yesterday while I was speaking with my wife, she suddenly brought up the story of how lord Shiva so selflessly swallowed the poison, that was about to cover our world, as the Devas formed an alliance with the Asuras to jointly churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality!
At first I felt confused as to how these two groups could ever agree to form an ‘alliance’. How in the holy heavens could so distinct goals and principles join hands to churn the ocean together! But then I got back to my earthly senses and, being born a christian, I got the point of the search for the ‘Holy Grail’!
Ever since man walked on earth, Knowledge must have been the Holy Grail of the common man. The knowledge of fire and then the wheel are what catapulted the human race ahead. And then we slowly unfolded a way to share this knowledge through education. The nectar that was supposed to free us from all social evils and lead to a newer and better quality of life not only for the beholder but the generations to follow as well.
I believe I am one of those fortunate few whose education formed the foundation on which the lessons of my life could be assembled. And the search for ‘My Holy Grail’, has always been a culmination of this education and learning.
Unfortunately, as I look around today, I see our younger generations spend over two decades of their initial journey in search of the Holy Grail of knowledge. At the end of which most of them are struck with one common thought. “Did I really get what I was supposed to gain? Did this education give me what would take me through my life ahead!” And the sad answer in a vast majority of cases, with due respect to the effort, money and time spent, is often a big loud “No”!
I’ve heard of the old times where one was sure to be in a job as soon as he completed his higher education. It seems an astounding feat, because I live in a world where children with professional degrees to their names are jobless and many even labeled as unemployable.
The story of the past is that the knowledge of fire and then, that of the wheel, torpedoed the human race to the next higher level of existence. The sad part of my present is a system where education and learning are slowly moving against each other. Knowingly or unknowingly, we got so obsessed with reinventing the wheel that we slowly forgot the very essence of why the wheel exists in the first place!
I remember the time that I was made to spend, standing on my class desk, from where I saw a very new perspective of how my everyday class looked like from another very different angle! My friends teasing me, somehow made me feel stronger and more ready to face the future failures that awaited. I remember scoring extremely low in some subjects. And then, crying in my pillows. Yet, I would hit back with the vigour of a warrior and walk down my school corridor with my head held high in pride for every single mark I strongly fought for and earned.
Through this fading memory of mine, I see a present generation of kids ready to jump from the top of their school buildings at the smallest provocation in life and teachers working out all possibilities to give free marks to one and all. Failures are being treated with extreme egos and trivial things lead to anger, anxiety and depression.
It is disturbing that all this is happening as the number of child friendly commissions and other government initiatives are on the rise. Even more saddening is the Government’s thrust to the promotion of certain kind of institutions (in the state) and the steady investment in demoting certain others who have worked hard over the past years to get Kerala to its present enviable position in this sector.
And as the various Devas and Asuras shamelessly join hands to churn out the essence of what we call our education system, all I can do is but wait for a new lord Shiva. One who would be as selfless as the old and take in this poison that is engulfing our future!
[Mr. Gemi Thomas is the Administrator of Holy Trinity Vidya Bhavan, Karthigappally, Alappuzha District. In his earlier avatar, he was a management consultant to the World Bank. He is passionate about teaching and learning, and occasionally takes to writing. He blogs here and this blog post first appeared here.]