The purpose of Education!


Ever since we started the journey of open learning, few questions are often asked, one of them is “If kids are allowed to learn on their own then they may miss learning everything?”

Yes, one cannot learn everything at once and that’s not the idea also. But one can learn when the need arises. Our daughter didn’t do any formal education after the age of 10yrs. She is now 19, and ready to vote ( legally). She does not want to vote without understanding. She wants to understand the working of govt, the constitution of India and Democracy in India. She has started learning about constitution not because it has to be learned for future, but she is learning because she needs it now to understand her role as a citizen of this country.
The purpose of education is not to produce follower minds but to create thinking minds. So the question is why do we want to stuff kids with everything without any purpose?

Another apprehensive question asked is “how will they face the real world?”
Well, at the age of 16 she felt the need to interact and learn from different people. She has been traveling since then. She comes back home when she needs, she travels wherever her interest takes her. It didn’t take her more than a day to understand the travel system of the city of Mumbai. In last three years, we as parents have played a very passive role in her travel, she travels wherever she wants, however she wants. She travels in sleeper class, uses local transport and moves around independently.
The purpose of education is not to make our kids dependent on us ( which course to choose, where to apply for a job, how to travel) but to make them independent learners for them to lead their own lives.

Another question ” how will they study all by themselves?”
Well, she got interested in sustainability. And she began her journey of sustainability at Swaraj with a week’s workshop. Her world opened up beyond plastic wastage and waste segregation. She started questioning cosmetics, clothing and our complete lifestyle. Her own readings, workshops, and explorations were not enough, she enrolled herself for a month course by Azim Premji University on sustainability. The admission application asked for 12th pass candidate, she shared her portfolio and got accepted. As she moved ahead she felt the need of understanding “economics”. As sustainability connects the issues of economics. She picked up 10/12 std economics textbooks and started reading. She questioned the textbooks where it began with explaining “good investment is study and degrees while bad investment in skill building”. She questioned if the textbooks are the best way to learn.

The purpose of education is not to study blindly but to think and question what is existing. The space to question is an investment in our growth. The fearless education allows her to question. She can question because she is not learning for any external reason, islearning for her ownreasons.

A question asked, ” how will they know the world around them if they don’t go to school and socialize”.
Well, at Swaraj she met people who gave her deeper insight into the meaning of sustainability. She dived deep into it. She has been using cloth padding for last Ty here years. She encouraged me to use cloth padding, she explained to me keeping Ng my needs in her mind. She still uses cloth pacing but I use a combination of cloth and synthetic. But she accepts “it takes time to give up comfort”. She understands the consequence of using soaps/ shampoo/ perfumes/ toothpaste and so on. She understands where does our clothing comes from and what are their consequences. She is nowhere running behind the brands instead understanding the origin and implications of our usage. Does she understand the world around?

The idea ofeducationis to question self. Thepurposecan’t be to just gain knowledge (where does cotton grow) but to understand its relevance in our lives ( cotton growing sucks water, hence more usage more consumption).

She has inspired me to go minimalist, use cotton pads and be contended. The idea ofeducationis not to pass our beliefs, knowledge, and practices to the younger generation. But to learn from them.

In our journey of growing, she has lived with children/ adults of various ages and temperaments/ beliefs and culture. She finds space with all in all situations. Old people are not outdated for her, young children and not a burden or small for her. A peer of her age is an asset for her. This does not mean she does not have her preferences. Is she lacking socializing in any which way? We as parents didn’t go through any teenage syndrome with her. Are we lacking understanding the world around us?

Also, don’t think that all kids are same, hence open learning means all come out same…if all comes out thinking same or similar then thepurposeofeducationis lost again.

My son, 13yrs old like brands, he does not like younger kids demanding from him, he likes to win, he prefers western music, he is gadget lover…he does not have to mold himself into some frame or images. He needs to be himself and that’s thepurposeofeducationto find self. Why doeseducationneed to brands right and wrong, good and bad, naughty and decent, intelligent and dumb? Can thepurposeremain to just be myself and not fit into any predefined frames?

Often the concept of open learning brings many apprehensions and questions, but in reality, all we need is to question our own questions and apprehensions.

She didn’t give 10th exam, rather she questioned “why 10th?”