Tell me, I will forget. Teach me, I will remember. Involve me, I will learn. Benjamin Franklin has put this simply. Yet it’s so profound. Learning is about experiencing the unknown rather than about knowing about the unknown.
My first such experience was at the village. An Indian citizen living in the country is very familiar with the socio-econmic status of the country and at least is theoretical aware of the economic divide between the village and the cities. But to experience it first hand, to talk to the villagers , the sarpanch, the Harijans, the women in purdah, the reality of it suddenly hits hard. I “learnt” what empathy was and learnt about the simplicity of life.
I may have been aware that to be a teacher implies that she needs to be a multitasker, an always alert, a focused , a creative person all at the same time, but to understand a child, to have the child respect you not because you are older but because you are the guru, to treat each child as an individual rather than a class, is something I “learnt” only when I stepped into the class. It was one thing to understand J Krishnamurthy’s right to education, it was another to make it practical and then revisit the significance it and immerse in it.
There are umpteen articles on RTE, some criticizing it, some welcoming the beginning of change, some talking about the real hardships in following it. The depth of it remained unclear until a visit to the government school where a 5th class student was holding the pen for the first time. I did not learn how to handle such a situation but I learnt that even if the intent behind the policy is positive, the realization of it cannot be brushed under the carpet for someone else to manage. A policy can not just create havoc with the child’s life but can ruin the community’s future and possibly the nations intellectuality.
Learning is a journey that has no destination. It’s about enjoying the journey, collecting souvenirs in the form of knowledge, data points, personal bonds and lots of just self elements. To evolve is to learn by being aware of yourself and your own attitude towards society and family and that may be the first step towards enlightenment.