Posts Tagged ‘ India ’

Why our Current Education System is Failing!

(“Acknowledge: Aboundedworld”)

WARNING: This post goes against social conditioning and is particularly lengthy: read if you dare.

As my high school career has finally ended (I graduate March 2009) I have found myself particularly reflective on the value I have received from high-school.

I end my high school career with a sub-par 3.3 G.P.A ,having never received a prestigious academic award, and a quick glance at my attendance record would reveal numerous absences (OK 32 days just this year.)

If I listen to what I have been socially conditioned to believe:

Sub-par grades + number of awards +   a good (and useless) attendance = the end of my life

Right?

I beg to differ.

Chasing The A

For most of my life (along with millions of other students) I have been taught to believe that the secret to a successful life is to get outstanding grades. Slowly over the years however, I have discovered this premise to be completely false.

Luckily, over the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to immerse myself in a variety of empowering perspectives and thus have come to  understand that we are 100 percent responsible for our life.

We can be as happy and as successful as we choose to be. Our attitude, not our grades, determines our success.

I have been fortunate enough  to recognize that education goes beyond just the classroom. Life is our greatest mentor. Unfortunately,  I’m one of the lucky ones.

Myself, along with millions of other students, have failed to apply ourselves, not because we’re not smart enough, not because we don’t care about our future, but because we are tired of being dictated by a system of letters.

Continually brain-washing students into believing good grades are essential in living a successful life, has had some disastrous consequences:

Students are more stressed then ever. Cheating has become increasingly rampant. Students spend an excessive amount of time obsessing over getting perfect scores (after all they’ve been told they won’t have a job if they don’t.)

In fact, a classmate of mine  routinely stays up past 2 A.M in order to stay a float. Excessive? I think so.

What’s even more depressing about our current education system, is that it leaves millions of “average” students behind. Millions of kids with incredible potential are left to die (educationally speaking) never realizing their true potential.

Many of my current classmates, each of whom  could literally change the world, are paralyzed by fear, and are instead choosing the path of security: That is get good grades. Get a job. Be happy. Unfortunately that’s rarely how it unfolds.

We can live our purpose today.

I’m not suggesting that our current education system doesn’t do any good. It does teach us the basic necessities.  However, much of what we learn in school is not practical in the real world.

Where are the courses on blogging? Where are the money management courses? Where are the classes dedicated to eradicate poverty? Where are the classes that help us find our purpose?

Our current education system places too much emphasis on the A (and in my country, we have an A+, parents pressurizing to have it anyhow!)and not enough emphasis on unleashing the promise that lies in each and every one of us.

Education Through Reading And Experience

One of the most startling shortcomings of our current education system, is the lack of relevant reading. We are forced to read (A.K.A sparknote) ancient  text that we often find difficult to understand.

All this does is encourage a distaste for reading.

I’m not suggesting that ancient texts such as Shakespeare (Macbeth etc.) don’t have any value, however what the students read should be up to them.

“But wait! Then they will just be reading the latest trash.”

To which I reply ” Yes, but at least they will be reading.”

Our top priority must be to instill a passion for reading. The progress of humanity depends on it.

A number of my friends routinely say ” I hate reading”

And I always reply, ” You just haven’t found the right book.”

For reading to complement education like it needs to, the books we read must be relevant to us. Not our teachers, not our parents, but us. Each book should be likened to a puzzle piece completing our soul.

Our current education system is putting too much effort into things that don’t matter. Busy work. Perfect grammar.  Memorization. All of which does nothing for us 10 years down the road.

Over the past 4 years I have read close to 100 books. Only 15 of those books being school related.

Those 75 books (OK I’m rounding here) I read outside of school completely transformed me. My philosophy, my attitude, who I am today, all stem from the numerous books I devoured.

Education is about unleashing one’s confidence. Education is learning from failure. Education is growing from experience. Education is discovering your passions then pursuing them.

Education is not rote memorization. Education is not analyzing books that have no meaning to you. Education is not wasting your time on subjects you hate. Education is not being paralyzed because your afraid to fail.

Having attended a prestigious school in Lucknow,  India, I can honestly say I have learned more from bringing my thoughts together, going to various competitions, and making friends from around the world, then I ever have in a classroom.

Education is meant to be enlightening. Reading and experience are the key.

Finding Your Purpose

Education is meant to help us find our passion, our purpose in life. Unfortunately, our current education system fails miserably.

We’ve been told:

You have to go to college to be successful. After that you have to go to grad-school. Make sure you get all A’s or you will fail.

Instead of embracing education many students (including myself) have adopted a mindset to just survive.

We’re so used to being told who we can or cannot be, many us don’t even know who we actually want to be.

All the education in the world is worthless if you never unlock what makes your heart beat.

Again, I have nothing against college or even grad-school for that matter. In fact I believe both can offer tremendous benefit to our being.

The problem lies in the fact that we’ve been told that you have to do this, you have to do that, in order to become successful.

Who says life has to be a linear line?

The traditional life time line:

High School: College: Grad-School: Job ( you most likely hate): Retire: Die

Why not:

High School: Find Your Purpose: Love Your Job: Live your life. Die Happy?

The latter sounds more enticing to me.

Education is all about growth,  it’s about experience, it’s about creating authentic relationships. It’s about being human. It’s about connecting with humanity.

Our current education system is inherently flawed. Times are changing. We must stop obsessing over becoming “book smart” and instead focus on unleashing our passions.

Without living out our passions we just add to the clutter of the world.

When we choose security, we sacrifice our passions, killing part of us in the process.

I have tremendous faith that the answers to today’s problems of the world: poverty, war, and disease, will be solved by the youth of today not because they are smart but because they follow their passions.

Enough Is Enough

I know I speak for millions of students around the world when I say:

We’re tired of being told we’re not good enough. We’re tired of doing mindless work that only adds stress to our lives. We’re tired of feeling unworthy just because we fail to meet the expectations of the A+ poster child.

We’re tired of being told who we can or can not be. Shouldn’t we decide that for ourselves?

We need to be inspired. We need to be encouraged. We need to spend time doing things we love. We want to change the world.

Is that too much to ask?

So many students fail to realize their potential because a simple grade tells them they have none. They receive a D and thus feel they are worthless and have nothing to contribute to this world. This defeats the whole purpose of education. Education is meant to build not destroy.

In no way am I suggesting getting good grades is a bad thing; that would be foolish. Getting good grades is not the problem. Allowing grades to dictate one’s life is.

Grades don’t guarantee success.

Passion + Determination + Positive Attitude = Success

I’ll give you an A+ if you transform the world  :-)

What are your thoughts on our current education system? What do you think must be done? I encourage you to share your comments in the comment section below.

It’s obvious our current education system needs major reform, until then however, it can proudly boast a fat D- on its fridge.

Editors Note: In no way is this post attempting to bash the educators of our world (whom I am eternally grateful for) but rather the education system as a whole.

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Dr. APJ Abdul Kalaam’s speech in Hyderabad.

A must read for every Indian.


“I have three visions for India.

In 3000 years of our history, people from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured our lands, conquered our minds. F rom Alexander onwards. The Greeks, the Turks, the Moguls, the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Dutch, all of them came and looted us, took over what was ours. Yet we have not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered anyone.

We have not grabbed their land, their culture, their history and tried to enforce our way of life on them. Why? Because we respect the freedom of others. That is why my first vision is that of FREEDOM. I believe that India got its first vision of this in 1857, when we started the war of independence. It is this freedom that we must protect and nurture and build on. If we are not free, no one will respect us.

My second vision for India is DEVELOPMENT. For fifty years we have been a developing nation. It is time we see ourselves as a developed nation. We are among top 5 nations of the world in terms of GDP. We have 10 percent growth rate in most areas. Our poverty levels are falling. Our achievements are being global ly recognized today. Yet we lack the self-confidence to see ourselves as a developed
nation, self- reliant and self-assured. Isn’t this incorrect?

I have a THIRD vision. India must stand up to the world. Because I believe that, unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. Only strength respects strength. We must be strong not only as a military power but also as an economic power. Both must go hand-in-hand. My good fortune was to have worked with three great minds. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai of the Dept. of space,Professor Satish Dhawan, who succeeded him and Dr.Brahm Prakash, father of nuclear material. I was lucky to have worked with all three of them closely and consider this the great opportunity of my life.

I see four milestones in my career:

Twenty years I spent in ISRO. I was given the opportunity to be the project director for India’s first satellite launch vehicle, SLV3. The one that launched Rohini. These years played a very important role in my life of Scientist.

After my ISRO years, I joined DRDO and got a chance to be the part of India’s guided missile program. It was my second bliss when Agni met its mission requirements in 1994.

The Dept. of Atomic Energy and DRDO had this tremendous partnership in the recent nuclear tests, on May 11 and 13. This was the third bliss. The joy of participating with my team in these nuclear tests and proving to the world that India can make it, that we are no longer a developing nation but one of them. It made me feel very proud as an Indian. The fact that we have now developed for Agni a re-entry structure, for which we have developed this new material. A Very light material called carbon-carbon.

One day an orthopedic surgeon from Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences visited my laboratory. He lifted the material and found it so light that he took me to his hospital and showed me his patients. There were these little girls and boys with hea vy metallic calipers weighing over three Kg. each, dragging their feet around.

He said to me: Please remove the pain of my patients.

In three weeks, we made these Floor reaction Orthosis 300-gram calipers and took them to the orthopedic center. The children didn’t believe their eyes. From dragging around a three kg. load on their legs, they could now move around!

Their parents had tears in their eyes. That was my fourth bliss!

Why is the media here so negative? Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements? We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them.

Why?

We are the first in milk production.
We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.
We are the second largest producer of wheat.
We are the second largest producer of rice.

Look at Dr. Sudarshan, he has transferred the tribal village into a
self-sustaining, self driving unit. There are millionsof such achievements
but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and failures and disasters.

I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert land into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news.

In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime. Why are we so NEGATIVE?

Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things?

We want foreign TVs, we want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology. Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance?

I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life is.

She replied: I want to live in a developed India.

For her, you and I will have to build this developed India. You must proclaim. India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed nation.

Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance.
Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is yours.

YOU say that our government is inefficient.
YOU say that our laws are too old.
YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.
YOU say that the phones don’t work, the railways are a joke,
The airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their
destination.
YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits.
YOU say, say and say.

What do YOU do about it? Take a person on his way to Singapore. Give him a name – YOURS. Give him a face – YOURS. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your International best. In Singapore you don’t throw cigarette butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs.60) to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOUcomeback to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status identity. In Singapore you don’t say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn’t dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai. YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an employee of the t elephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to, “see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.” YOU would not dare to speed beyond 55
mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop, “Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am so and so’s son. Take your two bucks and get lost.”

YOU wouldn’t chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand.

Why don’t YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo?
Why don’t YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston??? We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India?

Once in an interview, the famous Ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay, Mr.Tinaikar, had a point to make. “Rich people’s dogs are walked on the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,” he said. “And then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect the officers to do? Go down with a broom every time their dog feels the pressure in his bowels?

In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan. Will the Indian citizen do that here?”

We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility. We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick a up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect t he railways to provide clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms.

We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity. This applies even to the staff who is known not to pass on the service to the public. When it comes to burning social issues like those related to

women, dowry, girl child and others, we make loud drawing room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse? “It’s the whole system which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons’ rights to a dowry.” So who’s going to change the system?

What does a system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbors, other households, other cities, other communities and the government. But definitely not me and YOU. When it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with our families in to a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr. Clean to come along & work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away.

Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England. When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.

Dear Indians, The article is highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one’s conscience too….I am echoing J.F.Kennedy’s words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians…..

“ASK WHAT WE CAN DO FOR INDIA AND DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE TO MAKE
INDIA WHAT AMERICA AND OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES ARE TODAY”

Lets do what India needs from us.

Thank you,
Dr. Abdul Kalam
(PRESIDENT OF INDIA)


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