Saturday, 5 April 2014

E is for Educe, Evoke


"...all knowledge is within and has to be evoked by education rather than instilled from outside."
~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Volume 1, p. 373

Most of us know from our experience of conventional education that this kind of "evoking" of knowledge within is not generally encouraged. Rather, the emphasis in our schools and colleges is on imparting information and expecting students to reproduce it for tests and examinations. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this problem is closely related to mainstream education's almost-exclusive emphasis on passive mental faculty of storage and retention. Hardly any attention is given on developing or encouraging the use of active mental faculties, faculties which could actually also result in "evoking" knowledge from within.

If we think about it for a minute, we find that if something could indeed be taught to us from the outside (other than being supplied a bunch of information on some facts and figures or more importantly, information on how to access or retrieve the necessary information) we would all have learned the same thing! Isn’t that so? But that doesn't happen; we all learn different things and find different things that interest us differently. This implies that the way each one of us internalizes or receives the information that is given to us has a lot to do with how we learn and what we learn. So the emphasis should be on preparing the instrument - that, which facilitates the educing, the evoking, the bringing forth of the knowledge. As we start thinking like this we begin to see a new view of education emerging before us, giving us clear goals and aims which a good education should be pursuing. [Later in the series we will have a post on preparing the mind, one of the key instruments of concern to educators.]

We must also ask some hard questions about how this evoking might be done. It is not only about figuring out what subject areas or particular lines of knowledge resonate deeply with the learner's temperament and bent of mind, (even though all that is very important and its discovery must be encouraged by a good educational approach), we must try and get an idea of how to really facilitate this "evoking" of knowledge that lies within – whichever subject it might be.

This type of experience gets facilitated by providing a creatively and carefully thought out learning opportunity. It also necessitates  providing ample space and time to the learner so that a meaningful learning experience can be naturally and organically created, by allowing the learner freedom to explore and reflect on his/her observation, by providing the learner helpful guidance and resources along the way, by not forcing the learner to learn in a particular "right" way but rather giving him or her the freedom to discover his or her unique learning style.

Granted that this is easier said than done, but if we are really committed to making a change we start with ourselves, by changing the way we, all adults engaged with the work of preparing the future generations (as teachers, parents, mentors, in various capacities), think of and participate in this adventure called education. Do we allow our children at home the time and space they need to freely discover their preferred way of learning? Do we give one another - adults, colleagues, partners, spouses, friends - the necessary time, space and freedom to come to their understanding of, or their truth about a situation at hand? Or do we simply impose our interpretation or understanding on them? Do we give ourselves that time and space necessary to come up with our thoughtfully considered and calmly reflected conclusion or interpretation of an event or happening - in individual or collective life? Or do we simply and blindly and conveniently follow the "mass" view or the pre-dominant intellectual fad of the day, which may or may not resonate with the truth within us, or worse, which may simply be a hyped up creation of all the mass media we are bombarded with?

If we don't begin the journey to creating and facilitating our own organic and natural way of learning, how can we expect the big system out there to change? Small steps, indeed. But each step can make a difference when done with the right spirit and attitude. Indian Education is not something out there to be "reformed" only from the outside. The journey can begin from the inside too. Because India is not out there only, it is also within. In you and me. How can we evoke that Indian-ness within? [Later in the series we will take up this exploring and evoking of Indian-ness - from within as well as learning about it from the outside.]

This post is written for the A-Z Challenge, April 2014. The theme I am exploring is - Putting India back in Indian Education

Click here for the previous post in the series.