This guest post is by Meeta Gangrade – Author Bio at the end of the post
“My education is a result of my experiences, My experiences are not really a result of my education! “
I must have been a year old when I first felt a book and tore it. The book was merely an object that helped me build strength of my fingers. As a 3 year old I lugged a heavy bag full of text books and stationary to school. In primary school I read ‘Enid Blytons’ tucked under a blanket giving an impression I was studying for my exams instead. And then during high school, I spent hours memorizing chemical formulae and answers to English text book questions. The fact is that I cannot recall a single word of what I was taught in my Engineering books.
Albeit I topped my class most years of my life, I did reasonably well in competitive exams and I also landed a job right after college. Today, I have a job and make enough money to pay my bills, humor my hobbies and keep me going. I have always had a challenge remembering things I did not care about and I continue to suffer from the same as an adult as well.
Yet when I look back at my childhood I remember learning not in my schools or classes; but truly because of my life outside of it. Today as an adult when I am choosing to re-learn a lot of subjects that were supposedly taught in school, I believe I am enjoying the experience. Probably because I am doing it out of choice now and that there is no pre-defined way of learning it; but my years of experiences are guiding me in going about it. I am not under any pressure to perform or top in my exams. I am just up most nights driven by my need to learn and understand.
I always scored marks but I think what makes me successful today in my career, in interactions of life and in living a complete life is truly the fact that I spent a lot of my early life experiencing – art, music, science, relationships, friendships, cultures, travel, nature, history, museums, parties, dances, business, idling and whatever life has offered thus far. I have learned – not merely from text books I carried or lessons I learned in class but truly because despite what people told me, I realized that education really comes from:
- Experiences in life – so experience as much, as differently as you can
- Having an open mind – Break away from stereotypes and patterns
- Adapting and Changing – Personality is the most fluid thing and shapes up if we let it change with each day
Every human being is born with 5 forms of senses, 206 bones, as many nerves and similar capabilities. It takes conscious realization to transform this body and mind into a person with experiences, knowledge and most importantly wisdom. While some figure this out on their own others need parents/schools/environments that help them shape their personality. I truly believe one way or the other all kids at a very young age should be encouraged to:
Express – varying from languages, art, painting, dance, etc. Encourage your kids and give them a chance to just express without criticism or judgment. I saw a harmonium at the age of 4 and that 10 minute experience and encouragement from my parents opened my eyes to a new world of music and believe it or not, I think my ability to comprehend music comes from consistent listening and experimenting with it. Thanks to my parents for tolerating my noise all through nights and days. I also thank them for pointing out when my practice did not yield any improvement pushing me harder. I also want to thank my music teacher who taught me not be scared of art and who opened my soul to the world of music. I am a very different person because of music in my life.
Observe – teach kids to observe, listen and grasp. Let them spend few minutes every day looking at nature, watching you assemble your furniture or just watching the mum cook. Most of my childhood was spent with my parents setting up the house or watching my sister create working models for her project or just sitting on the platform watching my mum cook and even watching my neighbor teach music to the kids on the street. Life was full of ‘Do it Yourself’ projects during summer vacation.
Question – let kids question and get used to frustrations that come along when they don’t find answers. It is a myth that all questions of kids need to necessarily be answered. In fact kids should be encouraged to find answers by delving deeper and exploring. I have spent numerous hours in scouts and guides camps finding new ways to light a fire. I spent hours trying to find answers as to why my cycle caught rust during the rains and tried to finding a solution to the same.
Collaborate – Not everything can be done all by you alone. One needs help in life and the earlier we figure that out the better it is. 1+1= 11! We were 14 kids on our street. Every summer vacation we took up a new project – Sometimes we put up a fair (mela) for our parents and made some pocket money or once we tried to setup a patrolling system to prevent thefts in our neighborhood. We learnt to cycle in a group, invented games to deal with power cuts which were about guessing capitals of countries and trying to find constellations and stars in the open sky.
Experience – We should let every individual smell, touch, see, hear and taste extensively as a child. Senses open up our experiences and get deep down. It opens our minds and hearts and teaches us the art of assimilating. I believe I can smell like a dog because I used to dig my nose into everything I could get a hold of. My mum taught me how to distinguish clothes via touch and I think I was always told by my granny – try eating all you can, if you don’t like it you can always throw it away. Today I enjoy good food because of my sense of smell just as much as my taste buds. I appreciate a good concert because of the way music enters my soul. So open up and just experience.
Education is not really about memorizing scientific formulas or scoring in an exam where you could write 5 points in response to a geography question. True learning is when you are able to remember history like a story, you can prove what science teaches you, you can listen to music and zone out, read a book and smirk at witty poetry or create a painting that captures your moment in a way that someone else can experience it. It changes what you grasp and appreciate. If you ever do travel from town to town across various life styles and traditions – it will reflect in what you take from that travel. Make every moment in life a new experience. There is so much around us that nature has created and we have expressed. Sit back and let your environment teach you. While we will all anyways pick up degrees and end up having a job or creating money somehow, people who do so with more enriched experiences truly do something radically different as they have an entire force of experiences and wisdom backing them up which can help them survive in this world under any recession or drastic time.
I am educated! Not because I am an Engineer but because I have experienced 33 years of life. My education has not really influenced experiences of life as much as my experiences have influenced what I learn from a moment and what I have become today.
**Disclaimer***: I have lived most of my growing years in India and hence all views expressed are very contextual to my personal experiences with the Indian Educational System
A nomad with packed suitcases and love for airport lounges. A repressive maniac intrigued by all forms of art and expression – Music, Literature, Theatre, Randomness topping that list. I provide for my food and shelter by working in the world of IT. Been lucky to run into a lot of diverse people, experiences and places. Claim to fame – featuring on Nischala’s Blog-o- Rendezvous!