If we look at our modern educational journey all the way from nursery to a PhD, it looks like what is not outright wasteful is all focused on preparing us to earn a livelihood. I was talking to a Sanskrit scholar who was telling me that in our tradition the focus has always been on knowledge. It is not that we have neglected the aspect of livelihoods, but it was understood that the larger project we are on is about knowledge because that is what helps bring us out of Avidya or ignorance. Also, in our tradition we thought that Shiksha was a continuous, life-long process and not one that started when we went to school and finished when we finished school. We had a much broader perspective on Shiksha that spanned lifetimes. Another way of looking at it is that our traditional Shiksha was about Vyakti-Nirmaan or person-making.
When we look at it closely, it looks like there is very little Vyakti-Nirmaan happening in modern education. Of course, too much Vyakti-Nirmaan, creating people who can tell the difference between Truth and falsehood, will only disrupt modern systems like the State and Marketplace. What are required are automatons who question nothing and blindly believe everything they are told. The modern education system does a good job of creating these mindless consumers.
In the middle of this mess, if we thought it important and wanted to focus on Vyakti-Nirmaan, how would we go about it? Perhaps we can start with the following tentative list:
— Look carefully and realise that most of the modern educational journey has zero contribution in making a good, wise, knowledgeable human being. It is basically a transaction of huge heaps of useless information. (Tell me why Integral calculus is of use to all but 0.0001% people who will use it for some esoteric research work)
– Understand that the focus of the modern educational journey is to create mindless workers and consumers. People who can efficiently do a mind-numbing job to earn money that they can then spend on useless, body-and-mind-destroying products.
– Act according to the above realisations and pay minimum attention to the bloated academic syllabus. Don’t be under the misunderstanding that this is about education and needs to be understood. Find creative and efficient ways to pass the necessary exams that are the hurdles along the modern educational path.
– Focus on Vyakti-Nirmaan through immersion in self, culture and nature. Immersion in real life!
What do you think?