What does education mean to you? Comment on a) The role of education in society b) The role of discipline, competition and motivation c) Ways in which children learn best


/* In a non-blog context, I was asked these questions with a view to eliciting my viewpoints (=biases) and I thought I could share (=recycle) them with the unfortunate readers of this blog too – but, with a few modifications and after redacting/eliding of certain dirty slangs; yeah, I do not want to hurt the sentiments of a certain dragon fly. Anyway, here’s hoping that these kinds of brain_melts will result in fusing and confusing more brains, ahem! */


To me, education is  life.

a. I feel that the Role of education in society – would be to produce centred, autodidactic & happy individuals, with demonstrable models of excellence, who walk work-ethic, who can co-operate and work alone, be responsible stewards of whatever realms that they chose to operate within, to generally make our world a nicer place than it already  is.

b. The role of discipline, competition and motivation – 

Discipline – I see it with a positive connotation. I interpret it in terms of rigour and work-ethic. I see it predicating a given individual’s internal and external world towards maximising the human potential – the yoga of learning, if you will.

Competition – Again, I do not see it in a negative connotation, which it normally is seen as. Considering the fact that, we are all toast in the long run, I feel that one should compete against the mediocrities within oneself and try to rise above them. Also, I feel that one should follow his own vocation, discover the joy of what ticks for one – and do a damn good  job of it creating individual models of excellence, irrespective of what others do, say or think. If a ‘school’ environment can provide a reasonable space for each child, accommodating to the extent possible, meaningful possibilities of individual growth and empathize with the child – then she can become self reliant and can have oodles of self-esteem. Competition? What competition…

Motivation – I feel that such a child who is self-motivated and can access all its internal resources – would understand what competition is, in the ‘world out there’ with its baggage of negativity – but would rise above it, hopefully, to lead a peaceful yet successful life – in her own terms, that is. She would then make a good, responsible, positively contributing citizen.

I would strive to work for and assist those children who would not be afraid of failing. And, who would always land on their feet, like cats; but, they may not be from a Vermont or a New Hampshire; they may be from a Morattandi or an Edayanchavadi instead, that’s all. Quoting  Emerson would be handy here.

“If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life.

A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.

Let a Stoic open the resources of man, and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that a man is the word made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations, that he should be ashamed of our compassion, and that the moment he acts from himself, tossing the laws, the books, idolatries, and customs out of the window, we pity him no more, but thank and revere him, — and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendour, and make his name dear to all history”

Ralph Waldo Emerson / Self Reliance / 1841 (note: bold facing, paragraph breaking are all my edits of the original text)

c. Ways in which children learn best

Having been a teacher of all kinds of children (varied backgrounds, varied capacities and interests) for a while now, I would say that – each child learns things differently. And that they are learning all the time. There is no ‘one size fits all’ kind of situation, IMHO.

However, I am of the opinion that, children learn best when they are engaged with a given task, when their minds and all faculties are in complete synchrony – a veritable ‘whole body & mind learning,’ if you will. (That’s where a system like Montessori, if implemented properly, can help immensely!)


But the specifics of learning methods etc will vary based on attributes such as environment, experience, imagination and very many other factors.

Let us take the case of two simultaneous equations with two unknowns, say:

2x + 3y = 13 & 3x + 2y = 12

A particular  child learns simultaneous equations in abstract, purely symbolic terms. The second, interprets the equation as the total cost of various quantities of tomatoes and potatoes, assumes meaningful values, substitutes  and solves it. Another learns it, visualizing the scenario with interlocking differential gears. Yet another child, learns through the musical construct of variations of a fugue with certain combinatorial movements.

One just merely needs to nudge, support and help the child focus – and withdraw when the aha moment occurs to the child, that’s all. All these variations and more have happened to my children, delightfully so! Oh, I am so so so lucky. :-)

To answer your question to the point — I would say,  Ways = n,  with n —->,  limited only by the imagination and re-framing capacities of the particular learning duo in question – the child and the adult (=’teacher’), that is.

That’s why not all teachers are made equal. Some are many orders of levels more equal than others, to rephrase my dear George Orwell.

At the same time, the teaching adult cannot afford to go overboard and be full of uncalled-for hubris, like yours truly, for example. One cannot overestimate one’s capacity. Here’s where Gibbon comes to the rescue:

“The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous.”

— Edward Gibbon / The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – Vol 1 / 1776

Perish, ye self-doubts! :-(

Oh well. Hope this helps; Or, does not.


2 Responses to “What does education mean to you? Comment on a) The role of education in society b) The role of discipline, competition and motivation c) Ways in which children learn best”

  1. Packirisamy N Says:


    இதனையும் பின்னிப் பிடலெடுங்களேன்!

    • அய்யா, அந்த பதிவை வாசித்தேன். :-(

      மேலும், அவரே ‘ஆழம் தெரியாமல் காலை…’ என ஆரம்பிக்கும்போது, தன்னிலைவிளக்கம் தரும்போது என்னதான் செய்வது சொல்லுங்கள்… :-((

      கல் விட்டடிப்பது அவருக்கும் மிகவும் லேசுதான்.

      ஆனால், நீங்கள்தானே ஆஸ்ட்ரேலியாகாரர். உங்களுக்குத்தானே சூட்சுமம் எல்லாம் தெரியவேண்டும். :-)

      ஆக, நீங்கள் ஏன், அந்த பெடலெடுப்பதைச் செய்யக்கூடாது?


      கழுவுற நீரில் நழுவற மீன். :-(

மேற்கண்ட பதிவு (அல்லது பின்னூட்டங்கள்) குறித்து (விருப்பமிருந்தால்) உரையாடலாமே...

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