The world has lost a great innovator of recent times in the name of Steve Jobs and there are so many articles coming out highlighting his nature, his unconventional thinking and his great speech of 2005 asking the graduates to “stay focused and to stay foolish”. If we see the recent stalwarts of technology driven businesses, three names stand apart from the rest of the crowd : Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. All of them have redefined lives in some ways, irrespective of the fact whether we like it or not. And two of them have a strange characteristic of being college drop-outs and by that virtue, are outside the conventional education system created thought process mechanism.
Now, I am not an expert on US education system; nor have I any first or second hand experience of that system. But, having come out of the Indian education system, makes me ask a basic question of “does our education system allow us to think radically or are we ‘forced’ to think conventionally which stops us from lateral thinking when we are at our formative years as school / college / university students ?”
I have a feeling that due to the burden imposed by our education system, we are forced to follow the structured syllabus consisting of certain subjects which might be totally irrelevant in our future lives as professionals – and this irrelevance is very much anticipated even when we are supposedly not so mature in the phase called “student life”.
Maybe we need an overview of the subjects to become a “man” in the modern world, but what is the use of mugging up for examinations on typical questions of “when was the battle of Plassey” for an individual who has no inclination nor any wish to pursue history as the subject to make his career upon ? Why do we need to know the history of Bengali literature with Boru Chandidas when we as individuals have taken the first step to pursue science as a career – which might branch out to engineering, medical science, physicist or a mathematician ? If I as an individual can appreciate Bengali classics and literature by reading Rabindranath, Sarat Chandra, etc, then what benefit I get to memorise “Radhaar holo ontorer byatha” knowing very well that this is not appealing to me at all !
I personally feel that these pressures of not-required-but-forced subjects forces an individual to spend so much energy on passing and scoring marks in the exams, that the individual cannot even “dream” of thinking absurd ideas which has the potential to change lives at a later point of time. Even Rabindranath did not like the conventional education system prevailing that point of time and so came out of it to spread his mental wings in the world of his liking which ultimately made him one of the greatest poet, novelist of all times.
People might argue that in spite of this system, there are many Indians who can think beyond the conventional and then flourish through the unorthodox. Sure, there are many people – but the average Indians will be so much “suffocated” with the forced conventional’ism, that they will lose their power of lateral thinking. Definitely, they still may rise in their professional worlds, but will a big population rise in a world where they define something that was completely unheard of and yet, can change human lives drastically ?
I think we all need to really think through honestly and ask the question to ourselves “if I follow the system, what are the chances that I can dream / think of the unthinkable when I am at my thoughtful best during my formative years ?”. If the chances are less than 30%, then we need to really think the unthinkable – which in today’s context will be to change the education system radically !
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