In all of last week, did you rest your mind on the observation that, at a constant pressure, increasing the temperature of a gas will increase its volume? No? Well, have you noticed lately that, at 220 volts, the current in the circuit is inversely proportional to its resistance? No again? What kind of ex-student are you? I have been thinking about this as parents around me are quivering in violin-crescendo, nail-biting tension, as their school-going wards go off to write their boards, and as various college students around the country are getting into their year-end examinations: all and sundry swotting up nearly useless bits of information like this to get ‘good marks’.
The point is that there is no point to this entire rigmarole. You are about as likely to use Charles’ Law or Ohm’s Law in your daily life as an Eskimo wistfully perusing a bikini catalogue. We might as well be studying – and be tested on – the complete dialogues of Captain James T. Kirk in the Klingon translation, for all that this learning is actually going to matter in our daily lives here on.
Let’s hear it again. We don’t have an education system. We have a filtration system. We go through some 15 years of schooling, learning something irrelevant or outdated, or both – and how we do at a charade of an examination at the end of this determines where some of us will be sieved out to spend the next couple of years, learning even more irrelevant and outdated stuff in selected institutes, where the substrate that finally remains is assumed to be better-equipped to get a job and face the realities of making a living. Yet this is a system that supposedly works, producing all these minds we’re oh-so proud of. Our Indian education system, we gloat, is among the best in the world. I shudder to wonder about systems worse than this.
Unless you are one of those microscopic few who actually work with Boyle’s, Maxwell’s and Kepler’s Laws on a daily basis, what can one actually expect out of this process? Well, a lot of people have an insane focus on getting a job – a high paying one, right away.
Should we rather be learning then how to find a job without waiting for the poor sods in placement to get Lehman to swoop down and blindly pay schmucks with engineering degrees and marketing qualifications large salaries to be bankers? Should we be told that less than a quarter of vacancies are actually advertised? Also, how to approach companies and create a job for oneself even if there are no vacancies? Even more basic, given the tragic quality of resumes in my inbox, should we be taught how to market ourselves in two pages?
Even the jobs our government and industry are promoting (“needed smart, intelligent MBAs to hassle poor Americans over the phone into paying their credit card bills, for a dynamic all night call center, transportation provided “) leave much to be desired. Many of the smarter ones will eschew employment and – hopefully- start businesses of their own. Are we equipping these brave ones with the rudimentaries of entrepreneurship – how to start a company, market it, hire people and so on? From what I see out there, at best, we prepare people to be employees – not employers.
But getting a job and starting a business are just two of the things we need to be educated on. There are other, far more important facets.
Can men be taught to respect women – and not treat them as second class citizens? Can the ladies be taught that men don’t really care about how they look – only other women do – and that 120 is far more compelling if it’s their IQ than their weight in pounds?
Can we be taught to work together on a project – irrespective of sex, religion or language of team members? Can we learn to speak up for what we actually believe in, and not stay dumb obeisance just because the other person happens to be older? Can we be told it’s good to have original thoughts?
We don’t need no thought control.
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This article is written by Mr. Mahesh Murthy for Business India Magazine. I read this around 3 years back and it has stuck in my mind ever since.
Today, I searched for it on the net but couldn’t see it’s link anywhere. I am glad I took it’s print out back then. 🙂
I love the following song by Pink Floyd :