Educated, or not

What a statement – the greatest gift of education is that you know nothing at all! It summarizes, to an extent, my 21 year ordeal (and maybe many of yours)! I always argue that there’s a humongous difference between literacy and education – a few people get it. But a lot of them don’t.

To be honest, although I went to some of the finest institutions to gain my education, I now feel sorry that my parents ended up wasting a whole lot of money on me, for I haven’t gathered much at all. Okay, that would be an exaggerated statement… I’d rather say that I didn’t know until it was too late as to why I went through all those painful formulae, or why the digestive system began at the mouth and ended at the anus. What I never understood till date was the discomfort my biology teacher faced, while explaining what ‘sex’ is!

School was one place I went, to be part of the ever-growing scandals. Mom always told me while braiding my hair in the morning – “Be good to teachers. Be good to friends. Don’t get into unnecessary stuff. Go to school, make friends but don’t forget to do your work!” when I reflect on it today, I understand that she knew I’d never been the wallflower I always portrayed I was. Oops!

But seriously, ‘education’ while I was at school or college, would be those episodes when my history teacher would throw her book aside and just have a casual conversation over why Mahatma Gandhi had to protest against the British over salt tax by walking all the way from Sabarmati to the shores of Dandi.

After miserably failing a math exam, my teacher would tell me, “Look Deepika, it’s simple. If you want to have nothing to do with mathematics, ever, you’ve got to pass in it.” I took that advice and it’s been 6 years since I went back to (a+b)2 = a2 + 2ab + b2 – Oh… so that’s how it works! Damnit!

I never got the concept of “burning the midnight oil” although that’s exactly what I did! I never got the marks I was expected to. I was never known for the answers I write but for the answers I’d give back, verbally 😛

When I’d flunk a social studies paper, I’d have to hear stuff like “So, you might want to consider learning a few current affairs if you want to become a journalist.” Who LEARNS current affairs? I’d stink as a journalist if I had to learn current affairs! See, that’s exactly what I never understood about the education I received – why does everything have to be swallowed in thoughtlessly?

I guess my education, per say, has begun now. I sit all day in front of this screen – read, write – gather so much about the things I never knew at all. Get to know people, their stories and understand that life is beyond those text books and examinations. It’s about novels, about a book of handwritten poems, about understanding why refugees need to scamper out of their own country, their own homes and into the home of another, rather than learning about it.

Before you start thinking that I advocate against education, let me clarify. I’m not against education. Jumping from school to school, I’ve come to understand the different aims of educational institutions. For some, it may be means to be the best school performing at the boards while for others, it’s to provide individual attention to all students. But in the course of competing and giving individual attention, I believe, there’s a distance created between the the literal definition of ‘education’ and the one receiving it. I’m unfortunately, in that category of distanced receivers.

So, in response to Writing 101’s Day 5 assignment, the tweet above is what struck me as soon as I read it.

And I hope someday, I’ll make my peace with the concept of education but until then I’ll have to find solace in knowing that I am indeed lucky enough to discover the greatest gift of education – I know nothing at all! 🙂