A Joke Called Education

“What makes you so dull?” comes the harsh question from my (economics) teacher. And then I realize that a hundred pairs of eyes are watching me standing dumb, with a pair of helpless eyes fixed on the floor.

I have always been encouraged by my elders and teachers to study well and be a good student. That is how I finished my high school, learning all those stuff from science, math, accounts, literature, so and so. I never cared about how they were related to or how they differed from each other. To me, all meant the same thing-an exam worth of full hundred marks. As I started narrowing down my fields of study and settled with science faculty in higher education, I came to see that ‘Science’ was not all that narrow. Rather, it was even wider, wider than the amazons. The variations and similarities amongst physics, biology and chemistry did, of course, confuse me at times. Interrupted frequently by the grammatical rules of Nepali, structures of English or sensible interpretation of the insensible stories from literature, I somehow managed to make head and tail of it. I came to know what the laws of reflection of light explain or how the atoms are arranged in a molecule of water or where the brain of an earthworm is located. Then, I used to feel that I was becoming more intelligent, that I was getting education that would make me smarter and more knowledgeable. I never felt myself below par to any of those famous heads on posters hung on my walls.

With further education to continue, I narrowed further my fields to Engineering from the whole of Science. My expectations were that it was the end. I thought I had landed to my destination where I had nothing but ‘Engineering’ to study. And it came as a first shock when I found that I had a number of branches in Engineering to choose from. Well, I did. I had to. But that was not yet the end. I still had to face the monotonous and boring lectures of bald professors at one time, and jot down the confusing notes from fresh graduates at other times. I still had to study the advertisement designing in communication skills at one time and the methods of water purification in Chemistry at other times. Sometimes someone would enter the room and leave after an hour without even putting a comma in between. At other times, someone else would come up to suggest a half a dozen of books of reference for any significant of insignificant topic, which may or may not be my choice. And I can’t decide whether I was right when I thought I was worthy of praise, to cope with all these for as long as this.

In total of six hours of classes, I had to mug up hundreds of irrelevant ideas from scores of different topics of dozens of dissimilar subjects. I had to know what algorithm are used in a computer network for transmitting binary data and at the same time I also had to keep in mind what the packaging density in a very large scale integration is, and also at what wavelengths the optical fibers worked. And now to make it worse, she comes up with a case study for which I am to suggest what a businessman is supposed to do when his sales have increased by tenfold but he is having a financial crisis to maintain his flourishing business. I have hardly bought a pair of shoes all by myself till now, and here I have to decide on whether he has to go for a joint venture or a joint stock company. The bits get mixed up with the selling of shares, the frequency spectrum gets mingled with the rules of partnership, the doping levels overshadow the depreciation levels. I am lost within the rules of integration and formulae of interpolation-I am completely puzzled.

That is not the end, however. Back to my hostel, the excitement of birthday party in the next room gets magnified with the rock concert rehearsal in the other. With a book of hardware description language on my hand, a medley of classical numbers from one side and the heavy metals, the drums and the amplified electric guitars from the other; Tere mere sapne…. Dooba Dooba Rahta hun……Dekha Tujhe to Huwa……..When You Say Nothing At All……..I Don’t Know Why………My Friend’s Got A Girlfriend…… and not to mention the latest Nepali Pop hits Komal Tyo Timro……. E Baau..blah blah; Can things be any worse?

I don’t know whether this environment is supposed to make me more intelligent and smart or dull and dumb. I am not sure whether education is leading us towards creativity or driving us towards insanity.

I am still standing, unable to explain my teacher why I am so dull or to ask her why she thinks I am dull just because I don’t want to speak. Probably I will be punished.

bipul (Bhopal, Jan 2006)

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