Inciting Infotainment, Uncategorized

What remains after you Forget what’s taught

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school!” – Albert Einstein

Let’s talk about the education system today. Let’s take a moment to think about what it is like and whether it deserves a change. The classical system has courses followed by exams at the end of the term to test knowledge. My complaints about the system are coherent with those of many others. Basically, two issues – one, exams are mostly just fact based and two, exams are thrice a year at the most and it is difficult to remember anything for 4 months, especially when it is mere facts. If you read a book, do you remember the colour of the t-shirt worn by the protagonist (even though some authors may mention that too in the name of details!) or do you remember the gist of the plot?

I work with scientists and I would like to think they are intelligent people. Yet, most of them are people who do not value facts. In the present day, facts are a ‘touch’ away on most gadgets and there isn’t a reason to remember any of those. Spending days in a library looking for a book that might contain the information you need are long gone. Logic and reasoning, on the other hand, are essentials. And those things stay with you all your life. Now if the brightest minds of the country (still talking about the scientists) are people who themselves cannot remember any facts, then where did the huge population of ‘know-it-alls’ from schools go? Where did the textbook knowledge take them?

There are some who argue saying that there has to be a way of judging students because there has to be a way of assessing who learnt from a class and who didn’t. But exams as they are conducted today may not be the best way of arriving at the judgement. We need to get rid of fact-based questions and focus more on logic and reasoning. Published work can be used as to extract comments and criticism from students and that could be a way of judging whether they have grasped the essence of a subject. Real life scenarios can be used as problems in a question paper.

Education is about teaching how to self-learn and not really about filling open receptive minds with facts around us. Subjects need to be taught, yes, but they need to be taught with perspective. And that perspective is the difference between a good and a great teacher.

The point of this post is to prompt discussion. There are several other issues I can think of that are flawed with this system. If you can think of a few, list them in the comment section to add some perspective to this post 🙂


Inciting Infotainment

Dignity in Death

“You soon learn there’s no elegance or dignity in death if you spend time in the castle kitchens. You learn how ugly it is, and how good it tastes.” – Mark Lawrence in Prince of Thorns

I have been thinking about organ donation for a while. I have also been pursuing this issue with my parents. As heartless as it might sound, I want my parents to donate their organs once they die. And I will do the same when I die. The argument in favour of this is only one – someone else lives while you die. I guess it is reason good enough.

It is appalling that almost 500,000 people die in India every year because they don’t receive an organ when they need it. It is depressing. Lives that can be saved but aren’t! Strange myths confusing religion and organ donation waft through the air in this country. Religion may be a guide to help you live this life but once you die, religion is no good. What happens to someone after death is something nobody can perceive and it is wise to rather serve those who still have a few years left than speculate on afterlife. I am no spiritual guru but a good one should advise you no differently.

First things first. If you are to donate an organ, you better know what you can donate. In case of natural death, organs like cornea, skin, heart valves, etc can be donated. In case of brain death (which by the way is an irreversible condition and the patient can never spring back to life as opposed to what several people think) most vital organs can be donated. To be able to donate organs, one needs to also live a healthy life because diseased organs (in other words, infected organs) are no good for donation.

It is painful to see your loved one be rolled into an operation theater minutes after his/her death. But that courage should be fueled by what it is going to achieve. If you decide to donate your organs, please visit the following link for more information. Sign up a donor card and keep it with you at all times. And don’t keep this information to yourself. Please make your relatives and friends aware of your wish so they can honour this when they have to. Organs need to be harvested as soon after death as possible and it helps when people around you know of your wish.

Maybe Mark Lawrence isn’t entirely right. You don’t just have to be a piece of meat once you die. You can contribute to more than just global warming after death. There can be some Dignity in Death after all.

Featured image picture credit: PM Venkatesh

Inciting Infotainment

Together we stand…

I just read an article by Swati Thiyagarajan, an environment editor with NDTV. She talks about how she has a multicultural life, being a Hindu Brahmin married to a South African and claims that her personal choices are ‘lovely contradictions’. My first thought on reading the article was this, “She speaks like me.”

I have spent so much time reasoning with others about how our religion or caste or social practices cannot govern our choices or the way we lead our lives. These are mere barriers that do nothing to integrate the community. I myself am a non-vegetarian Hindu and my life isn’t very different from that of a religious rule-following Hindu. Food habits are a matter of geography and availability, not religion. Caste came into being as a social order to ensure that all jobs were taken care of and that each member of the society contributed to it. But today, caste has led to a depressing state of affairs.  It is a different debate whether it is the idea of caste that led to it or its implementation.

As Swati rightly points out, being human is probably of greater importance than being religious. No scripture can actually guide us in life, because what’s right for someone else may not be right for us. What suits a particular situation is something we have to decide based on our conscience. One of the discussions I had with a friend about right and wrong helped me look at these two words and their implied meanings in different light. I did argue earlier that what is wrong is wrong and if it changed with situations then the subjectivity ruined the essence of it all. But my friend had a different opinion. Right and wrong are not clearly objective. Wrong is only what causes harm to another. And that statement made more sense to me than any scripture ever written.

Swati’s article was a beautiful reminder of how we are claiming to be Hindu by actually forgetting some of the most important lessons that Hinduism teaches us. It is a reminder of what religion has been reduced to – rules governing food habits, rules governing marriage, rules rejecting secularity, rules breeding no tolerance to other practices. Indeed, it is a shame.

On a light note, I should mention something interesting that happened with me. I was looking for some fellowships to fund my education and the search results were unbelievable. Fellowships for the reserved caste, fellowships for catholic Christians, fellowships for vegetarians! How about Fellowships for the Deserving? Does it really hurt that much? Is it politically that incorrect? Does something as basic as education have to be under the influence of false societal barriers?

For a straight-to-the-point view on the real state of affairs in this country, read through Swati’s article by clicking on the following link:

Featured image picture credit: PM Venkatesh