Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Old thoughts. New Series.

In school, the blogger's favourite subjects were anything but compartmental. She loved language and literature - both English and her mother tongue, Bengali. She was thoroughly intrigued by Physics lessons and developed a particular love of mathematics for a short time. She loved studying history but suffered a mind-block when attempting to remember dates of eras and emperors. She belonged to that weird species of school-goers who liked studying. Eeek! Some younger folks (friends of her sister, precisely) were continuously shocked to know, that the blogger's plan was to continue studying, no matter which year she met them after school. The gasp and the horrid look on their faces made her embarrassed. They meant no harm ; all that they wanted was, to hear something different than the word 'study', the blogger guesses! Bless their souls!

In spite of her love of the weird combination of subjects, she knew very clearly that she would choose to study in the Humanities stream, when the time would come. Among all the subjects, literature appealed to her the most, and, she knew she wanted to study literature in English. Bengali literature was an area that she can continuously improve upon at her own sweet time. The reaction of all, except her close classmates and family, was one of disbelief. The humanities stream was considered the least prestigious study stream then. Once, one of the mathematics teacher in the school, (with whom she shared an antagonistic relation because of no reason she can remember now) stopped her in the corridor to ask why she was not joining the Science stream. He refused to believe that it was her personal choice based on her preference for the arts. She further met some folks who were simply disgusted with her choice. She didn't quite understand the reason why the humanities were any less worthy a subject for study than the sciences. She didn't understand either why it was so difficult to desire to learn mathematics along with literature, history and political science. Soon she moved on to another school where she continued her studies with a strange mixture of subjects that everyone, outside the school, found funny: English and Bengali languages and literatures, Nutrition, Computer Science, Mathematics and Economics. 

From then on, English literature, or rather, literature in English, became her specific area of study.  More than a decade has passed since the blogger confronted the anti-humanites-frown.  Unfortunatelym the scenario hasn't changed much. This is the era of technology they say. The arts are for leisure. The sciences are for active living. This compartmentalisation of education has always  appeared to be an unnatural process to the blogger. The blogger has little knowledge yet to advance this opinion by herself. However, in the past few months, the blogger have had the pleasure of reading validated articles, news items, books engaging in this same opinion. And the belief becomes more strong that, in the synthesis of educational subjects, rather than breaking them into small brick houses with tiny windows, lies the natural purpose of education. Education can be the telescope to see space beyond our reach; it can be the room of one's own where many Michaelangelo-s will paint ceaselessly; it can be the philosophy of being blended with the quantum truths of science. 

Addressing this particular urge of the self, to see the link between what the frowning-faces see as opposites, the blogger wishes to begin a new series in this blog devoted to the idea of education and learning. No preachy stuff though :P The blogger wishes to share the insights she is gaining from her reading. Simple. (at least, the blogger will try to keep it simple, that is :P)

a picture of a painting
 Image: a picture of the painting A Man Looking Through a Window by Samuel Van Hoogstraten, displayed at the Kunsthistorisches Museum or, The Museum of Art History in Vienna. by self/ Arijit. 2010.


SprigBlossoms said...

great choice!!! I commend you on your efforts to define education beyond the mere compartmentalisation.....I am eager to read your future thoughts : )

Susmita said...

Thank you SprigBlossoms :) hope to have your active participation in the upcoming posts too :)

sup said...

"developed a particular love of mathematics for a short time." :)
"In the synthesis of educational subjects, rather than breaking them into small brick houses with tiny windows, lies the natural purpose of education." in complete agreement.
However, the compartmentatlisation is inevitable - specially when it comes to specialized tasks. Liberal arts education is definitely more useful for people centric tasks whereas math/science have their obvious places too. But irrespective the tasks, except for the geniuses, most people perform well when they are "well balanced" :)

Susmita said...

@sup: very true ... and i too believe that concentration on one area is beneficial for a deeper understanding and perspective of things. I am not against the idea of specialisation. I argue against the mentality that prioritises one over the other based on prejudice solely. compartmentalisation is a far cry from specialisation in that perspective. ... being open to multiple stimuli is possibly the antagonist of comparmentalised thinking. Further, this view of education is still predominantly present in Indian educational system, and the experience in the system is the fuel for these thoughts :)