Representational Picture.

Education is all-round development of children, a process by which children realise the capacities that can contribute to the betterment of the society and themselves. To be educated means to be creative; to cooperate and not just compete, to innovate and to prepare for a life that is original, independent and full.

Such education cannot be measured by academic grades; marks. The marks can only measure the capacities of memory and numeracy of a student.

The education system in Kashmir is fundamentally flawed. It is based on the outdated teaching methods and thereby relies much on rote-learning and grades. It does not provide any space for imagination and thus fails to recognise the talents of the students. Instead, it kills the creative drive among the students and discourages them from thinking on their own. Besides, it sets wrong notions of success and capacities in the society, thereby turning it into a meritocracy.

Nevertheless, within a traditional meritocratic framework like ours, education is not always viewed as a set of passive endeavours with which millions comply year after year. Instead, academic attainment and performance can be construed as the progressive accumulation of educational and cultural human capital with which to compete and trade on the employment market. People, however young, may be cast as agents making human capital investments with which to increase their productivity and earnings.

This is a flawed view as it sees the purpose of education only to find employment and earn money. And this sets out a competition and rat race without paying much attention to and exploring the creative and independent talents of the students through collaborative projects and dialogues. The meritocracy reduces a student to a mere cog in a machine, thereby dehumanising them.

No society has survived, and no nation has made progress until there wasn’t a creative drive in its people. And that drive only comes when we don’t judge the talents of students by academic grades.

Often we have seen that the students who do not get ‘good grades’ are taunted and thereby discouraged. And most of these students, who are too young and at an impressionable age, are forced to believe that they are no good at all. How can we judge an individual’s capacity merely by academic grades?

The human race is diverse, and so are our talents. And the education system that is in the process doesn’t try to allow the students to explore their abilities; instead, it reduces the students to mere rot-learners and doesn’t consider any other talent apart from getting good grades, worth exploring. To explain my point let me give you an example:

Albert Einstein, the great German nuclear physicist, once said, “Everybody is a genius. If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. He explains here that we all have immense talents, but it is crucial that such talents be recognised and then allowed space to grow. If not done so, then we might believe, like the fish that we are no good for anything.

There is ample evidence that the people who were ‘not good academically’ later turned out to be great scientists, writers, sportspersons, politicians, and businessmen. For example, Einstein was an “average” student in his college and worked as a cleric in an office. But with the use of his creativity, he became one of the greatest scientists ever walked on earth. Why? Because, he believed in his creativity and used it to think independently, and explored his analytical talents.

No society has survived, and no nation has made progress until there wasn’t a creative drive in its people. And that drive only comes when we don’t judge the talents of students by academic grades they get, but by trying to examine how creative and innovative their ideas are; and by letting them explore their abilities independently.

There is a need in our society, especially for the parents, to allow their children space to imagine things in their own way and not discourage them if they haven’t scored well in exams; it might mean that they have other talents that need to be harnessed.  If we allow our children that well-deserved space of theirs, the day is not far when we will be producing great people who will make our nation progressive and the society happier.