Google’s new CEO, Mr. Sundar Pichai, started off with a degree in Metallurgical Engineering; Mr. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering; which is to say that we first graduate, and then decide what we want to do with our lives. Good that it is a recent trend. Or Sushruta would have had a B.Tech of sorts from Takshashila before going on to pioneer medicine.
No matter how hard you try, Sharmaji’s son will always have scored a couple of marks more than you. If you are Sharmaji’s son, then some other Guptaji’s son. Point being, you’re always the used diaper from the desi brand, while the other kid is the baby-butt fresh wipes. Education is meant to educate, while at the moment the entire purpose seems to be to oust every other relative from the league of the 99%-topper-engineer-ceo-bada aadmi kids. Pedagogy has ceased to be about quenching the thirst for knowledge, to explore the unknown, to improve the known, and to go where no man has gone before (get the reference?). Now, it is about trying to get into a good college, good job, good post and raking in the moolah. Success is relative. More the success, more the relatives.
As a child, I would often stare with starry eyes into the vast nothingness of the heavens, and wonder what lay beyond. If there was more to it than meets the eye. If there was magic, if there was a God out there, laughing at the self-importance of us bunch of sentient beings hurtling across vacuum on a chunk of rock. And then came a set of books, which clearly defined my thinking. No magic, no aliens, sun is the center of the solar system and teacher is the center of your world. In B.B. King’s words, “The thrill is gone”. Kids play, get hurt, and get up again. It is perhaps the uncertainty of what the next mound of sand hides, or how fast the kid can run, which keeps them going. And school certainly isn’t the favourite place to kindle that flame.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s foremost astrophysicists, often describes how “so strong was the imprint (of the night sky) that I’m certain I had no choice in the matter; that in fact, the universe called me.” To realise that calling is what education was supposed to be. But then, even the internet was supposed to be a storehouse of knowledge, which we ended up utilising to look at pictures of cats. Why spare education?
While slogging through college is when most of us realise our true passions. After all, the best ideas come to you while drudging through something you’re struggling with. One just wishes for such epiphanies to occur before we start off with long years of stuff we later realise isn’t our calling. Materialism has overtaken everything, such that I’d rather become a technocrat than an artist, just because everyone said it’d pay more, or because my lineage produced six generations of CEOs. Some movies, like ‘3 Idiots’, do portray these issues in a very apt way. “Aajse pachaas saal baad jab kisi hospital mein padaa hoga, tab sochega, ki gaadi gate pe thi, letter haath mein tha, himmat kar li hoti toh life kuchh aur hi hoti”. *wipes a manly tear*
Follow your passion. Let everyone tell you what to do, out of respect, and then do what you see fit. Build yourself a life you don’t need a vacation from. Never let the flame die. After all, if Sachin Tendulkar had been forced to become an engineer, we’d all be atheists. Whatever be the pedagogy, don’t let it live your life for you.
It’s your life. Make it large.