Notes to young learners at the threshold of life [DNA : Sunday]
(DNA : Sunday Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) "Fundamental to the Indian ethos is the concept of celebration. Celebration for us is largely a community based exercise. Any congregation, for whatever purpose, is a 'mela'! Students graduating out of high school and seeking admission in institutions of higher education becomes a 'mela' too! 'Aashad' brings with it rain and thunder announcing the admission season.
When I look back at my college days, I see some glaring differences between then and now. Then, we had to quite literally wade through a large number of colleges and sit through several entrance examinations to get admitted to a college. This is drastically different now. With one national test such as the JEE, the online application system and the 'Know Your College' website launched this year in Gujarat, life has become a lot simpler. Having said that, one essential thing remains untouched and unchanged. Coming out of school and stepping into college fills a student with a sense of 'freedom'.
They are very excited, brimming with expectations, conjuring up of joyful time learning, analyzing and experimenting, innovating, creating and even meeting new people. However, this excitement is mostly met with disappointment. The system and its collective idiosyncrasies herds everyone ruthlessly towards mediocrity and boredom. The spark of curiosity and aspiration that was so palpable on the eve of joining college almost instantly evaporates and disappears under the spell of this grotesque monstrosity called the 'system'.
The life juice, joy and fun that one had imagined and dreamt of, drains. This is, in fact, also true of work, profession and life, across communities and even countries. So much so, that the 'martyrs' then speak of having sacrificed all their dreams and aspirations at the altar of school, college, work, marriage, family or simply life! This is the systemic clutch that one must fight free from. In fact university life is, indeed, a universe offering just about everything needed to discover oneself and excel in the areas that one chooses. Of course, these would have to be anchored in goodness and truth, with the ladder of courage and confidence as a constant companion.
Notwithstanding the dampening systemic eddies, most successful people keep the flag of faith and aspiration flying high. The 'RAMA' mantra is what they all steadfastly go through. At their first step, the system overtly and covertly, 'rejects' their ideas and dreams. While faint-hearted folksgive up, the real committed few continue.
But only to encounter the next escalated level of response - 'anger'. Now the ordinary amongst them give up and toe the line while these real worshippers of excellence don't. This requires tact, persistence and the single-mindedness of an ant! At this stage, the system surprisingly 'mellows', melts down and finally gracefully 'accepts' what you set out to do.A closer look at the system shows that it mirrors one's own sinister, doubting self! Almost any success or breakthrough has these stages of RAMA - Rejection, Anger, Mellowing and Acceptance as milestones etched in its trajectory. Interestingly just last week, I came across such an instance.Engineering students of IILM, Greater Noida dreamt and actually designed, built and raced a moon buggy for the NASA Rover Challenge 2014, in Texas, USA.
Each warrior of life has to believe in oneself, not letting the systemic 'herd' tendencies stop them.
The one enduring and lasting lesson that really is to be learnt is to persist, continuously learn, pursue excellence and never give up no matter what! And in the real analysis, this is probably all that is really needed!
Can the festive, vibrant socialand cultural ethos of Gujarat be harnessed to pervade, fill and infuse classrooms with creativity and newness? Wouldn't that be really cool?
The author is a Harvard educated civil servant and writer, now working in the education sector
Credit:Jayanti S Ravi
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