It was the mid-eighties. My dad, being a state government employee, was posted in a remote tribal area on civil construction work. Our hamlet was a set of thatched huts surrounded by lush greenery and a small river flowing nearby. The village, which was predominantly inhabited by a tribe called ‘Koya’, had a government-run primary school, where a single teacher would teach all the subjects. We, a small group of students, would stay under his custody most of the day.
Our teacher and our government-supplied textbooks were the only sources of our knowledge. We never believed that our teacher taught something wrong because we always remained under the impression that he is infallible, and his pedagogy is impeccable.
When I moved up to high school, I did not observe much change except that there was a multitude of students and multiple teachers. The teachers would enter the classroom one after the other, chalk and talk, and leave. Our teachers and our textbooks continued to remain our only sources of knowledge. There was neither a library not a laboratory. They chalked and talked, and we repeated and remembered. I passed out from my high school after undergoing all that rote learning.
Thereafter, I joined a junior college in a nearby town and there was a small addition. Being a science student, I was allowed into physics and chemistry labs, that too occasionally, to indulge in some experimental learning. The library, however, continued to remain a mirage.
For the first time in my life, I saw a small library after I joined a Degree College to pursue an undergraduate course. It was then I started going beyond textbooks to explore more. After graduating, I continued my studies under ‘earn while you learn’ mode. I started working as a tutor and continued my studies through part-time mode until the completion of my Ph.D. in English Literature.
So that was my education in a nutshell.
Now, let me brief you on what I observed about the modern-age students.
In this modern age, teachers ceased to be the sole source of knowledge, and their role is reduced to being facilitators. Though the textbooks continue to be there, they are only a small part of a student’s life. Edutainment, which brought education and entertainment together, is fast replacing them. And, knowledge came so close to students that it is just a click away. You borrow your dad’s smartphone to Google, and bingo! The information you need is served on your screen in a split second.
My tech-savvy son Googles a lot and enters his classroom well prepared to fire many questions at his teachers. And as a result, he acquired disrepute of being one of the most disloyal students.
Gone are the days when most of the so-called education happened within the four walls of a place called the classroom, where information was scarce, and teachers would rule the roost.
Now, let me tell you how the learning environment got transformed to cater to the requirements of modern age students like you. The entire world is a classroom for you, where information overload replaced information scarcity. So much content and so much knowledge is ready to overwhelm you, the moment you decide to go on a journey of exploration.
When I was doing my graduation, I would, almost every day, take a glance at a quotation written on our college walls, which read, ‘be a lifelong learner’. The simple yet profound words had an indelible impression on my life and made me realize the fact that our learning ceases only when we breathe our last.
Unlike in the olden days, it has become far easier to accumulate information and acquire knowledge. You have the option of harnessing technology to increase the pace of your learning manifold.
Never think whether your learning will earn you a decent living. That is secondary. When you pursue knowledge by cultivating an unending quest for it, it invariably drives you in the right direction. It enriches your life and prepares you for your future. And, most importantly, it empowers you to lead a purposeful life in this knowledge society. So, acquire the power of knowledge to enrich your future.