Very Good Question. The issue is not only about doing away with evaluation on th
e basis of bookish knowledge and memory but what to do in its place?To my mind,
the word "bookish" actually implies impractial and therefore we should cover all
aspects(big picture) of what maybe deemed practical education instead of just d
iscussing the curriculum.
Even mystics like Osho and Krishnamurthy have said that through Education alone
, social transformation is possible and both also stressed the need for educatio
n to fulfill its real purpose- help the child find his vocation in life. I could
not trace the link of the origninal article "As a Parent" by Wipro Chairman Azi
m Premji but his words are worth repeating :"The primary purpose of a school is to guide the child s discovery of herself and
her world and to identify and mature the child s talents. Just as each seed conta
ins the future tree, each child is born with infinite potential. In the article
he suggests that many teachers and parents try to be potters instead of Gardners
in moulding their children s future. Imagine a school in which sees children as se
eds to be nurtured-here the teacher is a gardner who tries to bring out the pote
ntial already present in the child. This is very different from the current view
which sees the child as clay to be moulded where the teachers and parents are p
otters deciding what shape the clay should take. There is an old Chinese saying
, Give a seed to a potter and you shall have a bonsai." In a nutshell, as a teach
er and parent, be a gardner, not a potter..
The great Phislosopher Socrrates had said "Education is not the filling of a ve
ssel but the kindling of a flame". The word Education itself comes from the word
"Educere" which means to bring out what is already in and not blindly stuff in.
The purpose of Education is to detect talent proactively. For this, it is essen
tial that education has to be based on application and intelligence( with open b
ook exams wherever necessary) instead of trying to test memory of knowledge. Thi
s is especially so in the era of internet where everybody can have the knowledge
but it is only one's intelligence with which one can distinguish or differentia
te oneself. Memory does not have that much significance since everything is ther
e on the net- its application that should matter and be tested. Since people ten
d to remember more of what they happen to be interested in, memory can be a tool
to know vocation instead of an end in iteself. Children can be made aware of ma
in memory techniques.
Einstein had said that Imagaination is more important than knowledge. Each pers
on's imagaination is diffferent and therefore he has to be guided correctly to c
hose his occupation in life where he is going to spend a majority of waking hour
s. Not doing so would be disastrous as pointed out by so many of our spiritual s
talwarts on this blog- http://mypyp.wordpress.com/2005/10/10/qu... Swami Vivekan
and said "Education is the manifestation of perfection already present in man"Unless there is perfection in education, that perfection cannot be drawn out.Rea
l education should enable you to find out what is uniquely you. That is what mat
ters in practical life, not bookish knowledge.
Natural talent often manifests well without any formal coaching. I played lawn
Tennis for several years but was not satisfied with the backhand(bane of many ra
cquet games). My younger brother got it right in the first week itself without a
ny coaching in such a brilliant manner that many players complimented him. My wi
fe is qualified in English hons but it is me, an MBA who has written articles an
d poems for magazines and newspapers. Similarly, she does certain business work
much better than I do. My father does much better trading in shares than me desp
ite not having any formal training in Technical analysis(graphs) which I have. I
once worked in a company where the rise of one person was much faster than four
others though all of them were from the same batch from the same institute. Tal
ent is more important than the tool(knowledge).
There was an article recently that corporate india was willing to take only 20%
of the total pool because people coming out of institutes were not practically
talented. This is because functional,operative, practical talent in the corporat
e world is different from analysis taught in MBA schools. Also, MBA is about ana
lysis but real life is about synthesis which is completely different. Even in th
e engineering context, John Adair, in his book, effective innovation while givin
g the example of a trained artist who excelled as an inventor concluded that Engi
neering is just a state of mind. You do not need a vaste amount of knowledge All
this clearly shows that process(imagination & thinking) is more important than i
nput(knowledge) especially memorized bookish knowledge. We should give equal if
not more importance to humotech in addition to looking for biotech and infotech.
Since not too much knowlege is required for talented people, short term courses
should be availalable for those who may have made a wrong choice of occupation.
Even in our Shastras it is given that the Sukshma(subjective-person) is more im
portant than the sthula(objective-knowledge ). What a person does with a particu
lar knowledge is more important than knolwedge per se and to detect that, person
al attention has to be given- the kind of personal attention that is given by a
Tennis coach when he feeds 60 balls to his pupil one after another and monitors
close progress. Then it is possible to discvoer that person's Svadharma(purpose
in life according to Shastras). Each of the Pandavas being unique in their own w
ay, one of the teachings of the Mahabharat is to develop your unique quality. Ev
en generally "Teaching the student teaches the teacher"- more so if the teacher
tries to study the student.
It would not be out of place to mention here that the initiator of Lateral thin
king, Edward de Bono had stated that thinking should be taught in schools becaus
e many intellectuals/knowledgeble people were poor thinkers. Thinking also helps
in detecting potential. In India's context, not making lateral thinking a part
of formal education is absurd because the greatest post independent rags to rich
es story ( Dhirubhai Ambani) was because of lateral thinking:http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/persona...
Other kinds of thinking can also be taught.
It should be mentioned here that countries like Russia have made chess compulso
ry to force students to think logically. Sites like braingle.com insist that min
d games also form a part of conginitive reserve and should be a part of formal e
ducation. This is in the context of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concentration is the
secret of success in politics, in war - in all management of human affairs". Con
centration can be because of interest or one could say mental strength -both sho
uld be monitored.
Education must also impart good vocational and physical training and inculcate
values to respect all vocations/professions- that is something we have to learn
from the United States where a janitor can talk to a professor on one to one bas
is on the same table as an equal. The caste system which determines occupations
by birth is fundamentally incorrect. All that also causes inter-personal problem
s in practical management.
In books like "Karma, Destiny and Career", it is given what can happen if you t
ry to pursue an exalted occupation(lawyer, doctor) when in reality your real voc
ation maybe relatively humble(carpenter, plumber). In New york, a child psycholo
gist became a taxi driver because driving was his passion.(This may seem absurd
but normally people seeking artistic satisfaction have such problems) Therefore,
formal education should give equal respect to all occupations and people should
be respected for what they are instead of snobishness of degrees and qualificat
ions associated with certain exalted professions.
It would not be out of place to mention here that some people who have won nobe
l prixes(DNA, Microchip) have admitted that not being too formally qualified was
an advantage because they could get creative ideas. This is in the context of "
Knowledge is food for the ego". If you feel you already know too much, you can't
get creative ideas. Students should be aware of all this.(does not imply that o
ne should not be well qualified)
In the Unnited States, one of the ways of dealing with work-misfits is to ask t
hem "What interest did you have as a child?"Why not nip the problem in the budwhen the person is a child? I have come across around 30 Americans who have writ
ten books on this subject. This American site summarises best what the education
system should be doing:http://www.careerspice.com/employee_sear...
J.krishnamurthy has even advocated small schools for
he child's potential . It is very important that each
ined as a vocational psychologist and talent scout so
choose the wrong profession and suffer for life- "The
ocation is life is a blessed human being. Let him ask
the purpose of detecting t
teacher should also be tra
that the student does not
person who has found his v
for no other blessedness"-
All this covers management of self(knowing oneself). Children should also be ta
ught practical management of money(people suffer because of lack of accounting k
nowledge) and practical psychology( management of people). Nobody in practical l
ife can escape management of money and people.
There still seems to be some hesitation on teachers part where computers are co
ncerned- computers have made possible what Shri Aurobindo said "The teacher shou
ld be a guide(not a sage on stage but a guide on the side) and not an instructor
and encourage the student to discover the answer for himself". Children should
know all main microsoft products thoroughlly word, excel, power point , access(p
rogramming insught).. Online education maybe convenient but some personal attent
ion from teacher is a must.
Another good thing krishnamurthy suggested was that children must be taught to
appreciate nature as a part of formal education from early childhood so that whe
n they grow up, they have some reservations in detroying mother earth if they ha
ppen to be in conflict.
In India, empahsis should also be given to team work and group dyanmics because
Indians have a poor reputation of working in teams. India has a competitive adv
antage vis-a-vis China (English has been made compulsory there)currently but man
y Indians cannot speak and write English fluently despite studying in English me
dium schools. Efforts should be made to ensure that Indians know colloquial Engl
ish since India cannot afford to lose that advantage.
There is a difference between being wise, being knowledgeable, being well infor
med and being intelligent- such disctinction should be clearly made to the stude
nts so that some of their false and baseless fears subside and there is a reduct
ion in the number of board exam suicides which have gone up considerably in the
past five years. Students should also be trained to be wary of "Information poll
ution" since they confuse being knowledgeable with intelligence which is why thi
s is such a relevant question.
Last but not the least, people keep talking of instilling "values". Citing real
life examples, it should be explained that everything that is good(Actor Naseer
udin Shah) is not commercially successful(Actor Govinda) and vice-versa. There a
re other examples of the goddess of wealth(laxmi) and the goddess of knowledge(S
araswati) not being directly proportional.(Jab Taqdeer maherbaan, tab gadha pahe
lwaan) So judging success by money alone and blindly pursuing can be silly and c
ounterproductive at times-better to teach that through practical examples rather
than give theoretical lecture on "values"
Practical knowledge is best-Osho specified that there is a difference between k
nowledge(Bookish) and knowing(expereience). With role plays and group dynamics,
the latter can be imparted in some disciplines and not lleft to the vagaries of
The twenty first century is expected to be stressful and therefore yoga and med
itation should also be taught properly in schools. Physical fitness was stressed
by Swami Vivekanand and we have a lot to learn from the western world just the
way they learn yoga from us.
Unfourtnately, Education has become a business and nobody is bothered about the
real purpose of education and one ends up paying more in donation and not getti
ng any real education. Its a loss both ways like "Heads I win, Tails you lose".
Whether it is education or anything else, unless there is a continous and consis
tent monitering mechanism, nobody shall be accountable and nothing shall have la
This may seem an exaggerated answer but I am trying to answer the word "bookish
" and trying to give a practical alternative in totality both from readings and
practical experience(without that one cannot relate with what one reads) from di
verse perspectives. Many examples(my own family disbelived without them) are giv
en to substantiate views with conviction since I am not an expert on education