December 17, 2015

[Reflections] A life of learning!

Imagine you were a student living thousands of years ago. How would you further your knowledge? You would seek out a Guru, eat with him, travel with him, wash his clothes and clean his home and in return for your services, he would condescend to share his knowledge with you. This knowledge was sealed tight in the cryptogram of classical languages, far from the reach of the common man. Talking of linguistic cryptograms, remember the Q.E.D we used to write at the end of our geometry theorems! I doubt if we had any idea about what this meant then but we plugged it in anyway. Later, if we had the inclination to investigate such childhood oddities, we came to know that it stood for ‘quod erat demonstrandum’, which was a fancy way of saying, ‘Remember, this is the thing we were going to prove!’ As if we were sitting in ancient Rome and studying under a Latin philosopher! Coming back home to our own learning scene, sometimes, as in the case of Ekalavya, a Guru could easily refuse a student, no matter how sincere he was. There are many Ekalavyas today too. If not for any isolatable reason, just for the omnipresent one called numbers. Consider how many young and old people aspiring to learn, live in our country. Consider how many centres of learning - universities and colleges, there are. So, no wonder, the overburdened lords and ladies of our seats of learning choose to find ways to say more no’s than yeses. Many a student has been turned away from their doors, although a passion burnt inside to learn. These heartbroken souls must first mourn their losses, but should soon realize that the centres of learning are now right in front of them - in the form of their laptops and smartphones. Walk up to Coursera, EdXUdemy, and you are sure to find worlds opening up. Whatever it is you want to learn, be it the recipe of an apple pie or the significance of the mathematical pi, one needs to look no further. Personally, I have had a joyful experience on this path. The first course that I took was ‘Anthropology of Current World Issues’, offered on EdX by The University of Queensland, Australia. It was an elegant introduction to the study of human beings. All about the differences, the similarities, the paradoxes, the parallels of cultures around the world. Every week, the course would take me to a different part of the world and make me understand how the people of that land face a world issue they locally have, through the eyes of anthropologists who work with them. Through this course, I was introduced to the many approaches in anthropology through interviews with inspiring anthropologists across the world. The course had what is referred to as ‘opinion maps’ and on these maps of the world, you could see the views of students everywhere from Colombia to China. These online education portals do have a way of bringing the world as one. One learns not just a course but to learn about oneself and the world. Just like Ekalavya made a mud statue of the teacher who refused to teach him and went on to teach himself and become a master of that, you too can do the same with your metal university. There is no need for you to break down with tears when they find reasons not to open those ivory gates. When the world is in your hands, why yearn for walls?

1 comment:

  1. As quoted by Paulo Coelho,“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” It is enough to have a spark within, yearn to learn, the technology-driven world is waiting to ignite it and set it aflame. Thanks for throwing light on such online educational portals. Will check them :-)