Monday, November 29, 2010

Knowledge - Formal Education or an Attitude

A few days back I happened to visit one of the desert camps owned by one of my friends, about whom I had mentioned in one of my previous blogs, Mr. Asif Siddiqui. He had made me appreciate the value of time and about giving time - time. The visit also gave me an insight which, I am sure, most of you would agree with. 

We, as a group of five, reached the pickup point from where the journey has to be in a four wheel, driven by specially skilled drivers who could maneuver in the desert. The four wheel came and parked safely near us and the person driving the land cruiser stepped out, extended a warm welcome to us and shook my hands and said his name was Az-har. The stress with which he gave his name gave out the amount of respect he has for his name. Many of us would not even realize what the meaning of our name is. The name Azhar stands for Famous, Luminous, Brilliant, Clear, Evident. The respect to the name became evident very soon.

During our drive to the camp he was showing us the way and the camel breeding sites on the way. He reached the camp and thanked us and also gave us the right information we needed. Then came the twist in the tale. He started talking to another tourist in the vicinity in fluent Chinese and the way they communicated surprised me. He was also attending calls in Hindi, Urdu, Chinese and English. His only concern was that he could not pick up Malayalam in all these time. I told myself in my heart, at least he has the will and wish to learn.

Then rushed the question in my mind
What is knowledge; is it got through formal education or is it an attitude to learn?

Let’s first look into the meaning of these words which we use so often but when it comes to explaining, we might falter. 

Education in a broad sense is any act or experience that has a influential effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another. The word education is derived from educare (Latin) "bring up", which is related to educere "bring out", "bring forth what is within", "bring out potential" and ducere, "to lead" 

Learning is acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves. 

An attitude is a hypothetical construct that represents an individual's degree of like or dislike for an item.

Once we know this then let’s look at the question again. Do we know what we know today through a formal bring up or the state of mind which allows us to acquire new behaviors, skills or values. So it need not be the formal education which gives us the knowledge. Let me cite another example which might elucidate the matter.

One of my tutor's Mr. Suresh in India, who is currently a journalist with a local newspaper in Kerala, had introduced me to one of his friends. He had studied only till the fourth standard. STOP. Don’t conceive ideas now. He is one of the most popular guides in Kovalam(a tourist attraction, beach), who is so fluent in German and French, that he can stand against any professor teaching in a college. He had acquired the language from the tourists who came there. He never had a formal training in the same. Though there may be shortcoming like the inability to read the foreign language, his acquired skill in using the language would be better than a formally educated person. 

Take the case of K. Kamaraj. He set an example to all those who look up to politics as the way to reform a land. He was an Indian politician from Tamizh Nadu widely acknowledged as the "Kingmaker" in Indian politics during the 1960s. He was the chief minister of Tamizh Nadu during 1954-1963 and a Member of Parliament during 1952-1954 and 1969-1975. 

He was known for his straightforwardness and honesty. He was involved in the Indian independence movement. As a high ranking office bearer of the Indian National Congress, he was instrumental in bringing to power two Prime Ministers, Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1964 and Indira Gandhi in 1966. 

In Tamizh Nadu, his home state, he is still remembered for bringing school education to millions of the rural poor by introducing free education and the free Mid-day Meal Scheme during his tenure as chief minister. He was awarded India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1976. 

The domestic terminal of the Chennai airport is named "Kamaraj Terminal" in his honor and the Madurai Kamaraj University has been renamed after him. 

While he was the Chief Minister of Tamizh Nadu he also handled the portfolios of Public and Police in the Home Department. In his second and third cabinet other than being the chief minister he handled Public affairs, Planning and Development, and National Extension Scheme.

His father Kumarasamy Nadar, was a coconut merchant. Kamaraj was initially enrolled in the Enadhy Nayanar Vidyalaya elementary school, and later in high school Kshatriya Vidyalaya. Kamaraj's father died when he was six years old and his mother was forced to support her family by selling her jewellery. In 1914, Kamaraj dropped out of school to support his family. But the lack of formal education never had stopped him. The knowledge and life experience he had gained through his hard work led him forward. Kamaraj gave a simple advice to his ministers, "Face the problem. Don't evade it. Find a solution, however small. People will be satisfied if you do something." 

Na Chora Haaryam Na Cha Raja Haaryam, 
Na Bhraturbhajyam Na Cha Bhaarakaari
Vyaye Krute Vardhta Eva Nityam, 
Vidyaa Dhanam Sarva Dhanam Pradhaanam.”

Knowledge is such that a thief can not steal, king or government can not snatch, 
Siblings can not ask for a share,Its never a burden 
And it only increases after spending it; 
therefore the wealth of knowledge is the foremost of all other wealthy possessions.

So instill in the minds of all those whom you know that never look forward to a formal education to gain knowledge. We learn everyday and keep learning throughout our lives. Each event in our lives teaches us something. Let’s imbibe the knowledge from them. Pass the light forward and realize the importance of gaining knowledge and not degrees.

Maataa Shatroo Pitaa Vairi Yen Balo Na Paathitaa 
Na Shobhate Sabhaa Madhye Hansa Madhye kako Yathaa.

Mother and Father who do not encourage their child’s education are his enemies indeed; 
An illiterate among educated one is the same as,
In a group of Swans the Crow is neither wanted nor admired.

Think about it, then talk about it as well as act upon it for a bright future.

- vaazhka bharatham-

1 comment:

  1. NICE BLOG!!! Education is the process of bringing desirable change into the behavior of human beings. It can also be defined as the “Process of imparting or acquiring knowledge or habits through instruction or study”.
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