I am now twenty one years old and am presently doing my final year BTech at SASTRA University, Tanjore. My job so far has been to sit back and learn. A part of what I have learnt is what this article is about.
The first place I started learning is obviously at home. Like everyone else, I had two teachers. The first one was the people in my environment which includes everyone starting with my mother and father. The second one is the environment itself. The first teacher was very kind. She volunteered herself to teach me several things most of which I only half-remember today. The second teacher was slightly more reserved. I had to volunteer to learn from her. I learnt things like speaking, walking, eating etc. from her. Of course, most of this was complemented by the first teacher so that the knowledge that I got from the second one was refined for my betterment.
Then was the period called schooling. The same two teachers continued but included more people. The first teacher taught me alphabets, numbers etc. The second teacher taught me several things out of which the one thing I wish to highlight is my language. Like every other kid on the block, I spent most of my time watching cartoons. The ones I saw were in English while my mother tongue is Tamil. Not surprisingly whatever the first teacher taught me like kindergarten rhymes are lost from my memory cells while the ones taught by the second teacher and refined by the first one remained with me till date which is the language English. There are other things that I learnt from my second teacher like riding a bike, fixing a corrupt operating system in computer, using a computer for that fact that I will never forget unlike the ones taught by my first teacher like when the Battle of Paniput happened.
Then is the phase of college. Here too the two teachers continued with me. They both just don’t seem to change their character at all. One volunteered and taught me everything she had known while for the other I had to volunteer. Most of the courses I had in college were from the first teacher while very few were of the second teacher type. Luckily, one of my professors was of the second type. His courses were completely action oriented. He teaches us the basics, we explore further, he refines our learnt material and finally we never forget what we had learnt. For readers who think that they have not gotten such an experience, think about how you do your project work in college. It is pretty much the same.
When I browse the Internet or read newspaper or read biographies of great people either it is how the current education system is to be changed to teach more practical stuff or tells how a kid who started learning things on his own went on to become one of the greatest personalities in history. Sometimes I sit back and wonder whether we all should go back to the system of Gurukulams as they are considered the best education system. From that time till today, I find a striking pattern. A pattern that tells what the best way is to impart knowledge. It is nature’s way of teaching. It is simple. Whatever a person learns on his own interest, complemented by refinement by teachers is the best method of learning. There may be arguments that a student joins a professional course because he has no idea or is forced by parents but now hates the course saying it is not his cup of tea. If you are of that kind, then I ask you to tell honestly from the bottom of your heart at least one course which you liked accidentally even. I am sure that in that course, you would have learned more than what the text book can offer and still remember it because you learned from the second teacher. Every course can be made in a way in which he volunteers to learn by himself and that kindles interest in the subject automatically.
What is striking is that fact that after a certain period in life, your first teacher no longer is with you. You are to learn everything from the second teacher then on and successful people are those who are able to extract the maximum from this teacher. The question that I put forth to all those who facilitate a person to learn from the first teacher is “Why don’t you teach how to learn from the second and simply refine the learning so that even if the first teacher stops coming along, the person continues to learn every day in his life.” We do not need a very drastic change in the education systems but only a slight change in attitude. The teacher, and by teacher I mean not only the ones in classrooms but everyone else who volunteers to impart knowledge to a student simply needs to inspire the student to learn. If that happens, then every moment the kid lives will be an opportunity to learn about the subject and not like the present scenario where the learning is confined to classrooms only and later most people fail to learn anything new at all.
If you are a student or were a student, then I request you to share at least one teacher/experience where you were inspired to learn and you learnt a great deal than what you would have done otherwise. If you are a teacher, I request you to kindly share one moment where you have inspired your student(s) to learn beyond the textbooks. If there is anything else that anyone wishes to express regarding the article, then please post them too.
Until my next post, take care!
“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity,he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”
– Clay P. Bedford