Informal Education is a needless Taboo.

What is informal education?

Informal education is style of education that diverges away from the formal structure of education. Unlike the the fixed curriculum, a finite number of exams and the emphasis on physical presence in a classroom ( the features of a formal education), informal education promotes more flexible methods of learning which involve – self learning, experiential learning, out of the box thinking and acceptance of new trends.

The history of Formal Education

Ever since the modern education system began, a majority of the human population has subscribed to that system. The reason for this bias was that the formal structure of education was more dependable, predictable and had a potential to show consistent results. This is why, the formal education system spanned every nook and corner of the civilized world. There was no second thought to whether a different style of education might be better in some way or the other. Formal education became the way to go, if you wanted to become successful in life. And more so, after the beginning of formal education, every field adopted the structure. And before we knew it, engineers, doctors, accountants, artists and even military men were being subjected to the same style of education. Despite having contrastingly different occupations, they followed the same classroom approach to everything they needed to learn.

Since the system was proving to be successful, no one ever thought to question it. And by question it, I don’t mean completely overthrowing it. I mean thinking hard and sound about whether formal education is appropriate for oneself.

Think to yourself. After you’d finished high school, you would have spent days, even months on choosing a field of learning that best fits your interest. But you never even for one second, spent time evaluating your style of learning. If you had, you would have asked yourself this question –  “Formal and informal education, which of the two am I comfortable with?”

But instead we go on, without questioning the style. We dive into the water, without judging the depth.

Why is informal education a taboo?

We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.

-Christof, ( The Truman Show – 1998)

Now since the belief in formal education has been reinforced over many generations, usually everyone instinctively chooses formal education. Why wouldn’t they? It shows success and everyone follows it. From their standpoint it is completely logical to blindly follow formal education.

And a rare few stop to logically evaluate the two styles of learning. Some of them arrive at the decision that informal education is better for them. And to those who have stepped into formal education  with blind faith, choosing informal education seems completely illogical.

The fish in the water looks at the bird in the air and despises him.

That is why when someone chooses to follow the informal structure, they’re termed as crazy, lazy, and other degrading terms.  And since formal education is the norm everywhere in the world, informal education has become a global taboo.

Why it is a needless taboo?

It is completely illogical to not question your style of learning. And more mindless is to choose your style of learning based on what others have done in the past. What ever style you choose should be a reflection your particular strengths and weaknesses. Your style of learning is your identity and should be chosen after proper evaluation of the alternatives.

And if after such a process, one arrives at the decision that informal education is the best for them, it is their personal choice. No one has the right to insult a person who choses to educate themselves outside the bounds of a classroom. It is their own choice. No one  (Not even parents )has a right to interfere in what route of learning an individual chooses.

Snippets from my life

Exactly one year ago, I got around to evaluating whether pursuing a degree was right for me. I reached the conclusion that I wasn’t comfortable with the structure of formal education. I wanted to learn things on my own terms. My interests are highly divergent. I have a professional interest in a variety of fields such as engineering, physics, filmmaking and writing.  Having such a wide scope of interest, being subjected to the a singular field of interest for half my day is uncomfortable.

And when I communicated my thoughts to my parents about me wanting to discontinue formal education, they erupted into hysteria. They called me crazy. When I said I didn’t want to be like everyone else, the asked me why the hell did I want to be different? They didn’t understand me back then, and they don’t even now.

So to them, I have this to say.

I love learning but on my own terms. I’m uncomfortable dedicating 4 years of my life to a singular interest. I want to learn everything, and I want to do that all the time. From your standpoint this might seem logical, but it isn’t. What is illogical and completely psychotic is that you yourself have never evaluated your style of learning. I pity you because you cannot see through my eyes, because you are missing out on all the sides of this world that I can see and you can’t, because you have closed your mind.

So whatever you say or do to force me into formal education, the reality won’t change – you followed the masses blindly, like mindless sheep. It was your choice. And to not live blindly is mine. I didn’t interfere in your choices, please leave me alone in mine.

 

God needs no middle man

Every religion has a structure that consists of various religious heads, priests and priestesses. This structure acts as the intermediary between god and man. Man must communicate to god as per the rules defined by the clergy. Also, the messages of god are interpreted by the priests and priestesses and then conveyed to ordinary people. But this structure leads to a lot of misunderstanding and false conveyances.

The relationship between a man and his god is a personal one. One need only talk directly to god, without the interference of middlemen. Because if god is in fact omnipotent and omnipresent, he will hear you irrespective of the fact that you speak from within a holy place or not. All that matters in your relationship with god is that you speak to him. The ways and rituals of how you communicate don’t matter. Even if you speak casually to god, like he were your friend, he would listen. Sometimes you don’t even need to speak. Just look around you, he’ll be there. He’ll know what you are going through. He’ll know what you need. And he’ll do his best to get you what you deserve. All you need to do is have faith, in him, and in you.

So the next time you want to talk to god, just talk to him. Don’t bother about what the world says. No one has the right to come between you and your god. Certainly no middle men. God Bless!

Where there’s light, there’s darkness.

The most serious pests plaguing the whole world are terrorists. One is forced to ask, why are they only now popping up on the world map? Well, the question is fundamentally wrong. Terrorists have always been their since the dawn of mankind. The only difference is in the meaning of peace. In the past, peace meant peace for your own kind of humans. So anyone that intruded in that peace was in fact a terrorist. In today’s times, peace has been standardized to become a global phenomenon.  The contemporary meaning of peace entails that all of the human population on this planet lives without a security threat. It is this globalized meaning of peace that lead to the word called ‘Terrorist’

Terrorist – Any person that causes harm to life without a criminal motive.

In a way, peace and terror are like light and shadow. The need for peace gives recognition to the obstacles in the path to peace. These obstacles are then given various names, all connected loosely or closely to terrorism. So in a way, if there is peace, there will be terror. It can’t be avoided. Of course it can be curbed so as to cause minimal harm to life. But the terrorist problem is akin to cancer. It can be minimized but never eradicated completely. And the only way to cure cancer (as of now, fingers crossed) is to kill the body itself. If the need for peace is given up, terrorists will have nothing to feed and flourish on. Because then, there will be no difference between peace and terror.

The choice rests with the people of the world. Do we fight them and suffer some bruises? OR Do we become like them to avoid the bruises altogether?

The decision is yours.

Bundles of infinite possibility

Why do we love babies? Yes, they’re cute. And they can’t defend themselves. So we’re naturally programmed to adore them. So we shower them with all the affection and protection we can afford. But there’s one more reason why babies are such bundles of joy.

Babies are essentially a blank slate. They come into this world with essentially no prior knowledge of its workings. This makes them very curious of their surroundings. A baby can spend his whole day learning new things, being curious about the world. Hence the wide eyes.

And as babies gather knowledge about the world that they live in, they futures are moulded, their alternatives grow more focused towards a particular activity/goal. And when these alternatives finally converge into a single goal, that is when we’ve truly become adults.

But what I’m interested in is the time when we have zero knowledge of the world. As babies, we have an infinite number of  possible paths to choose from in terms of morality, religion,philosophy, values,physical fitness, career, ambition, hobbies etc. There are an infinite number of possibilities that a baby can grow into. Your baby might be the next mozart, or he might turn to a life of crime. We never know.  And the human mind if fine-tuned to be attracted to suspense – to the possibility of how something might turn out. It is this mystery of the future that makes babies so amazingly interesting to us.

The next time you hold a baby in your arms,look into its eyes and get a warm fuzzy feeling – you’ll know in your heart that you aren’t holding a bundle of joy; You are holding a bundle of infinite possibilities.

And a few words to those who are now babies but will be able to read this someday : Stay curious, stay a baby.

Reading a bit of Basham – The Wonder That Was India

Arthur Llewellyn Basham is a noted historian of the 1950s. He had done BA in Sanskrit which led him to the study of Indian Civilizations.  The man spent his life analysing ancient Indian texts and drawing up a concise understanding of ancient Indian customs, traditions, civil structure, economy. And a compendium of this extensive study is his book, ‘The wonder that was India’.

I’ve just started reading this book yesterday. And 50 pages into the 500 page long journey, my mind has already been blown. I never liked history that much, but after reading a bit of Basham, I’m eager to delve into history as a hobby. Nonetheless, if you’re a history fanatic or are simply interested in learning about ancient India, this book is meant for you.

If you want to buy the book, here is the link to it’s amazon page :

Buy ‘The Wonder That Was India’ – A.L Basham

What does it take to become a ‘major’ religion?

There are approximately 4300 religion in the world. That is, about 4300 unique views about god, creation and the afterlife. But amidst all of these, only a few are widespread enough to be called major religions. So I was wondering, what does it take to be a major religion?  Obviously, the size of a religion depends on the number of its followers. The more followers a religion has, the more widespread it is. So I took to Wikipedia to find out the number of followers every religion has. And here are the statistics:

  1. Christianity – 2,200 million followers
  2. Islam – 1,600 million followers
  3. Hinduism – 1,100 million followers
  4. Buddhism – 488 million followers
  5. Folk religion – 400 million followers
  6. Taoism – 173 million followers
  7. Shinto – 100 million followers
  8. Falun Gong – 80 million followers
  9. Sikhism – 28 million followers
  10. Judaism – 17 million followers
  11. Korean Shamanism – 15 million followers
  12. Caodaism – 9 million followers
  13. Baha’i faith – 7.3 million followers
  14. Tengriism – 5 million followers
  15. Jainism – 4.2 million followers
  16. Cheondoism – 4 million followers
  17. Hoahaoism – 3 million followers

These are all the religions that are large enough to be termed as major religions on Wikipedia. The list ends with Hoahaoism at 3 million followers. That is the least amount of followers a major religion has. So it is safe to assume that a religion can be called a major one if it has at least 1 million followers. But this threshold will go on increasing as the world population increases.

So the moral of the story is, if you’re starting up a religion – the number to aim is 1 million followers.

The Book of ‘Jobs’

Steven Paul Jobs was a saint, of technology. His creative urges fueled a long period of disruptive innovation in computer history. And then, in the prime of his genius and the height of his success, Jobs died of pancreatic cancer.

But imagine if he had written a book, in which, he compiled all the knowledge that helped him create the ‘Apple’ philosophy – ‘The Book of Jobs‘. Then 3 major principles would form the core of that book:

1. Intuitiveness

This was the most important principal of Jobs’ design philosophy. Everything has to be intuitive. Jobs was of the opinions that computers shouldn’t be difficult to use; in fact, they should be utterly instinctive. A child should be able to use a computer the moment he touches it. This philosophy was an effort to make computing accessible to the average joe – a fundamental reason why Apple’s computers overtook IBM’s and proved to the world that computing is also meant for the masses.

2.Disruption

The second most important and yet equally paramount to Jobs’ success, was his knack for disruptive innovation. All of his endeavors were based either on completely original ideas or complete original takes on old ideas. One such revolutionary product that Steve Jobs pioneered was the ‘iPod’. The ‘iPod’ was the first device to allow you to fit 1000 songs in a space as small as your pocket. Until then, music could only be heard on large boomboxes -which were too heavy to be comfortably carried anywhere. So the norm was that music couldn’t be carried with you. The release of the ‘iPod’ disrupted that norm and itself created a new norm.

3.Simplicity

In 1974, Jobs traveled to India in search of spiritual enlightenment. There he learned the most important ideal to live by – simplicity. After returning to the States, he practiced Zen Buddhism for a while – which enforced the ideals of simplicity learnt in India. And in his tenure as the leader of the technology revolution, Jobs exuded simplicity. All you have to do is take a look at the clothes he wore. A plain black turtleneck, a pair of jeans and shoes was his usual pick. And to top it with a cherry, his round glasses that remind many a folk of Gandhi – the patron saint of simplicity.

Sadly, The Book of Jobs does not exist. But the principles that made Steven Paul Jobs a revolutionary, are found in books around the world. All you have to do is look.