Since ‘Education’ as a process is central to the movement of civilizations itself, it is imperative for us, being integral part of the latter, to interrogate various dimensions attached to it. I doubt if I could offer anything new about an idea that has been subject of study for thousands of years and about which a treasure of literature has already been produced. Still I strive to make a little contribution to ever evolving idea of education and meanings attached to the same. I am going to write a series of articles about the idea of education, its scope, its importance to human civilization and how humans have adapted to or adopted it. I shall also discuss about the extant system of education in our world. Following write up is the first part of the series.
Whenever we come across the word ‘Education’, there are certain things which strike the chords of our minds in an automatic fashion. There seem to be various pictures of students studying and teachers teaching in schools, colleges and coaching institutes. The certificates awarded after completing a course in a stipulated manner also pop up in our mind. If we stress more on the word, we find that education starts at home with family. We find that external agency such as government of the land is also responsible for the system of education present there.
On a similar note, have we ever wondered about the questions like what is the essence of education? What is the purpose of education? Who do all need to be educated? What are or should be the contents of the education? At what time should education start and by what time should it be completed? Who are the educators and who are the facilitators? With a small pause, I think that the obvious answers to the above questions are mostly in affirmative. And in pursuit of explaining their answers in this article, first of all I shall try to study the process of education which is also akin to the process of learning and then I shall ponder over these questions one by one. Once this is completed, I shall tell what does education mean for me? I hope this exercise would be of some use to satiate the inquisitive minds of ours about the idea of ‘Education’.
On scrutinizing all afore mentioned notions of ‘Education’ in the opening paragraph, we find that we have missed the most crucial essence of ‘Education’, i.e. process of learning. We know that to learn about something is to be more aware about that thing. To be more aware and knowledgeable about that particular thing makes one more educated which in turn helps one become more efficient and effective in our future endeavors regarding that particular stuff. So education means to learn and relearn. It is a continuum. Hereafter I shall use the words ‘learning’ and ‘education’ interchangeably in this write up.
Now going through questions asked earlier, it is found that the first question has already been answered in the paragraph containing definition of the education a process. After elaborating the meaning further, it becomes obvious that education includes the processes such as learning life skills, broadening one’s knowledge base, enhancing one’s reasoning ability, infusing inquisitive spirit and so on.
Above analysis leads us to ask the next obvious question, why education? Every organism on the planet wants to save its life. Once this is achieved, it strives to make its life more comfortable. These continuous efforts to increase the quality of life on behalf of every organism make it imperative for each of them to learn about the surroundings and the processes thereafter. This learning process is all about getting educated. Thus it is also discovered that learning or education is limited not only to humans but also to animal kingdoms. This query is also related to definition of the education where I said that education is all about an enabling process. This boils down to the answer that one gets education for making one’s living experience more pleasurable one. This pleasure may vary according to one’s priorities in life. Education, be it physical or mental increases the efficiency of the action done by the agent.
When we ponder over third question i.e. who are to be educated? As discussed above, it is known that every living creature is always at struggle to cope with issues related to their existence and essence. Every organism keeps learning and strengthening its position in its respective niche. This process enables them to adapt to changing environment which most of the time is out of their control. The practicality of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is adopted by every organism both consciously and unconsciously, though they don’t know the theory itself. Every species has different set of life skills required to increase their dominance and they strive to learn them. Aquatic animals learn how to swim, how to take sharp turn while getting caught or while caching the prey. A deer learns to rely on their sharp reflexes to turn without being unbalanced and a lion learns how to get hold of the most crippling part of their prey so as to neutralize them with minimum energy in an effective way.
Human beings have been lucky to evolve gradually to use their brain not only to coordinate their physical activities but also to consciously and effectively change the environment itself so as to be dominant species on the planet. Humans have evolved faster than other species on the planet with respect to using their subconscious and conscious mind. They evolved an elaborate system of education to make their progenies more capable in every succeeding generation. They evolved what we know today as Education System in formal sense i.e. education through institutions (I shall discuss about these institutions in detail in upcoming articles).
Later it is discerned that, learning is not limited to the level of individuals. Right from families and societies to states and civilisations, all kinds of institutions learn and get enabled. They learn from their past experiences, they learn from their counterparts and they also learn from their inquisitive aptitude. They also pass on these learnings to enable their future incarnations. It is easily observed that even government agencies learn and mould their actions thereafter.
When we think of the education as a process, it becomes obvious that the process starts at the birth itself which is nonstop till one’s last moment of the life making it a lifelong process. When one takes birth he automatically starts seeing and observing the things, starts physical activities and most interestingly starts breastfeeding on its own. These automatic learnings take the form of conscious endeavors when one gets older and experienced. As every new experience and hitherto unknown thing in one’s surroundings make one educated about the same in one way or the other. These lifelong learnings apply to all who need to be educated as explained in preceding paragraphs. This analysis settles the fourth question about the time span during which education as a process continues to be in existence.
After going through all the above aspects related to education, I find it apt to ask who the educators are. This question is of great importance as the imprint of educators is always there with ones getting educated. Examples of Jungle Book and Tarjon are there. There is scientific proof that if a baby child of a particular species if starts learning the life process with other species away from its own species since beginning of its life, it develops the life skills of the later species and even loses some of its natural instincts. Right from oneself, every other living or non living thing one crosses by is the educator. There are experiences of one’s and others which also educate about different things in one’s life..
After doing above analysis, I find it comfortable to define ‘Education’ as a process by which animal kingdom learns life skills to increase their chances of survival and along with this, are the actions specific to humans which enrich and strengthen the vitality of human existence and essence.
In a sum, education is an enabling process. It enables one to think more wisely. It enables one to act in a more appropriate manner thereafter. It helps one adapt to one’s environment more effectively.
In due course of interaction with the idea of education in a conscious manner, humans have evolved an elaborate and well developed system of education. This system uses the experiences of millions of years to progress assertively among the comity of species on the planet. With experiences they have also institutionlized the process of learning as explained in the preceding paragraph.
There is a set of institutions which have evolved over time to educate in a conscious manner. These institutions are families, societies, governments and so on. These institutions are also present in animal kingdoms though in crude sense. Humans further strengthened effectiveness and efficiency of the process of education with the concept of specially innovated institutions like schools, colleges and universities with clear mandates.
In the next article, Human’s Tryst with Education, I shall discuss human’s interaction with the idea of education in theory and practice. I shall also try to elaborate the genesis and scope of the concepts present in the last two paragraphs of the present article.
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