Sunday, 4 March 2007

One Step Quantum Leap in Education

Illustration 1: Children at Play
The children are at play at the bank of River Narmada at Bharuch City, Gujarat.

There are many dimensions to this event: Discovery (without Copy Right), leisure and learning by sharing, sense of community, free entertainment that helps health of body and sanity of mind. Besides they are swimmers. They would learn rowing, and fishing in course of time, i.e. higher education without fees, without grading, without failures... every one is accepted. They are familiar with the environment around: high tide and low tide, with that the change in water taste, the wild life, and also the presence of crocs in part of the river.
There is unconditional belief and trust that river is mother. Even any event mishap or demise is taken as part of life. And there are many more dimentions...


One Step Quantum Leap in Education
by Remigius de Souza

Education is one of the vital four links, i.e., work, education, leisure and health to the development of an individual and the community / society / collective (Ill. 1). There are two prevailing education systems: one is universal, which is still followed by a majority that is not yet caught in the web of industrialisation, and the other - institutionalised mass education - is induced by the industrial revolution that took place in the West (Ill. 2).

EDUCATION, WORK, LEISURE AND HEALTH are four aspects through which plants, animals and humans follow the daily living throughout their life-span. Though they are categorized here (because of Author's civilised habits) in reality every aspect is synchronised with, or embedded in, the other three, and are supportive to each other. They neither are in sequence of priority nor separated in compartments. Any one without the other three is lame or invalid or unstable, which could cause mental or physical maladies or malfunctioning in a person and/or the collective.

More advance a civilised society more the division, fragments, hierarchies; all neatly put in various compartments, including the four mentioned above. It helps the ruler / ruling minority to control people by "Divide and Rule" principle. Throughout the history the advanced societies have successively and progressively been proved a curse on land, waters, people and life at large. The industrial civilisation is the worst of them all. It is also a double-faced liar. For example, it would hold population increase for the poverty, hunger and starvation. It would hold the entire humanity responsible for the climate change, rising sea level, depleting ozone layer, rising temperature etc.

Illustration 2: Education Systems
(a) Spiral of holistic education by experiential learning
(b) Linear reductionist mass education by teaching

(a) Spiral of holistic education by experiential learning.

Education here, as said earlier, goes with other three aspects: Work, Leisure and Health. Education is a life-long quest for excellence and fulfilment of the Self, neither for expertise nor personality development as is an in-thing in the modern society.

It works with free sharing / exchange of knowledge, accumulated over generations, between individuals and communities, which lead to improvisation. Even the aborigines today do not live in proto-historic state.

Education, here, is not a slot; it is interdisciplinary, and finds its application simultaneously to support sustenance with life-supporting skills. There is no room for superficial baggage, no need for grades like fruits graded for marketing.

At any point in its quest it - an individual - is full in itself and yet leaves scope for growth - development, like a seedling until it is fully grown in its life-span of four months, or eighty years or thousand years, until death. Qualitatively there is no difference, whether it is rice plant, or a human being, or a banyan tree.

For example, its model is present in the Third World India and the Forth World India (of the tribal communities). Or one may notice it in the remote history when humans came up with fire, lever, wheel, language, paintings, engravings, domestication of plants and animals, when none of this institutionalised education system was present. Ironically no one can fit this experiential holistic education in the prevailing institutionalised education system.

For example, architecture is fairly interdisciplinary course in the modern mass education. To his dismay the author observed for nearly twelve years while teaching that it couldn't reach a holistic level. No, holistic doesn't click. Almost all the students learn in slots, think in slots, and eventually work in slots. Invariably they turn out to be a part of bureaucratic ladder. They also develop autocracy to some extent. Perhaps the seeds are sown begins from their nursery schooling at the age of three!

(b) Linear, or the ladder of, reductionist mass education by teaching

It is based on grading and degrading the human intelligence. Started by the industrial revolution, it is designed for the benefit of capitalism and for easy management by the bureaucrats who claim to be educationists. Any adjustments / readjustments in the system remain within the established framework.

For example, a number of schools started by J. Krihnamurti - the Star of the East - at several places. After giving talks worldwide for decades on 'freedom from the known' he too could not escape 'institutions' started in his name during his lifetime. Such is the grip of capitalism! Even Red China's Star is eclipsed by it. And how many democratic governments do bend or bow before the global or local capitalist institutions - the invisible superpowers?
industrialisation (sometimes called 'social and economic development') is only an orientation of mind, a small fragment in Life, and cannot be called universal in any of its branch, or all the branches of its education and expertise put together. Education and the products from its assembly lines in this system is merely a consumer item for marketing. No wonder the First World countries are now trying to find new markets for their education industry in the Third World countries.

Now research and studies are showing some of the side effects and after-effects of the affluence of western societies. We cite some examples here."The average age at menarche - when periods start - has plummeted over the past 150 year in western societies from around 17 years old to 12 to 13." writes Mairi Macleod (New Scientist, 10 February 2007, p.38). This has social, physical, psychological, and moral if any, implications.

"Peter Gluckman of the University of Aukland, New Zealand, suggests, the problem however, is that in our complex modern society, the amount we learn means that we mature psychosocially much later than our forebears did. This creates a mismatch between the stage at which we are able to reproduce and the time when we have the social competence to cope with it. In his new book Mismatch: Why our world no longer fits our bodies (written with Mark Hanson) he suggests that radical changes in education are needed to help bridge this gap" (Ibid p. 40).

Psychiatrist Bruce Parry, in his interview, tells, "In the US alone, every year there are at least half a million cases of children found to have suffered from severe trauma or neglect. So at any time there are going to be between 8 to 10 million children with profound trauma or neglect-related dysfunction. ... If you look at a society that's badly affected by famine or war, then those numbers climb still higher", ('Nobody's children', interview by Liz Else, New Scientist, 10 February 2007, p 42)." He is a co-author of 'The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog'. (see )

These examples relate only to children. What might be the situation of women, adult and the aged in the western societies? We only look the glamorous part and the affluence of the West. But the point is any person who has alert senses and observation would notice the changes that are taking place, or would honestly admit that s/he is not capable of looking after a child; perhaps animals would take better care of them: Parry fails to mention this in his interview.

There is no alternative

There is no alternative to the universal holistic education. It is organic and natural, and living beings, from bacteria (our ancestor in the distant past) to humans, have the learning ability bestowed by Nature. When a government has no ability to listen to the people, any democratic society must take its own charge, and restore their autonomy to educate themselves. In the present global circumstances, in the fast changing environment, which is forced by a few powerful, the people must accelerate their learning by their natural gift. That is, they must know, like the cells in their bloodstream, their enemy, and fight.

Any democratic government must recognise the people's education - knowledge and skills - in all the aspects of Education, Work, Leisure and Health. It must not victimise or suppress them by forcing alien systems upon them by taking them for granted. The people also should be spared from religious, racial, caste-ridden, linguistic, provincial fanaticism and fundamentalism, which is invented by the so-called higher-ups for their vested interest for the power. Last but not the least the hordes of activists, who are also the product of the industrialised mass education, should take some pain to learn from the people, and also change themselves. And avoid pushing them into the scramble on the ladder.

There are answers to all human follies. But there must be will to correct by drastic action: the gangrene growing on the society must be severed before it corrupts the entire body.First: recognise the people's education by legislative and legal action, not by lip-service, not by capitalising it, not by authority. The author of this article is not an authority, the people are.This must be coupled by the collective action to protect, preserve, restore, revitalise, renovate, and enhance the existing universal holistic system by legal and financial support.

After gaining the political independence, the people naively believed it is "our government", only to be disillusioned by the feudal mentality of its legislative and executive bodies, decade after decade. The political implications are clear: now face the hung parliaments and assemblies one after another, riots and terrorist acts, deaths by starvation and suicides, piracy in almost every field... the evil seeds of civil war are being sown by vested interests - the enemy within.


Remigius de Souza
69/243 S. B. Marg, Mumbai 400 028, India

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