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Know your `self' in school

If you thought understanding the real meaning of learning and life is meant only for the grey haired, hear Swami Suddhanandaji speak on perfect education and you will be proved wrong.


IF YOU expected to listen to a serious address on life, on an incomprehensible philosophical plane, you were pleasantly surprised. And if you thought such harangue would leave you pensive and exhausted, again your surmise proved entirely erroneous. Swami Suddhanandaji's talk on "Integration of Self-knowledge into School Curriculum", at the M.CT. M. Matriculation Higher Secondary School, on Luz Church Road that morning, was rightly meant for teachers. And the teaching fraternity from 30 schools in the city must have returned inspired, enlightened and rejuvenated.

In a lecture that sparkled with wit, humour and thought-provoking catechisms, the Swamiji made his point clear — formal education should enable student gain an identity in society, no doubt, but it should also help him understand himself. "You may give him the best car but of what use is it if you don't make him a good driver," he asked the teachers.

Laced with digs at human foibles, Swami Suddhananda exemplified the path of happiness through which teachers should lead children.

"Anything can be justified... even stupidity," laughed Swamiji. High professional qualification and the position you acquire through it can help you create an impressive visiting card for yourself — yet it can only be an identity for the `role' of an officer or businessman that you play on this Earth. It cannot be the real you, Swami Suddhananda argued with innumerable simple examples from day to day life.

The need of the hour is to go beyond creating `roles' for youngsters. And our educational system is not doing that at all — we concentrate on academic excellence all right but little is done for the emotional development of the human mind. Knowledge of the self alone would help achieve it. Education ought to make you aware of yourself — teach you the language of happiness and fulfilment. Because high positions in life can give one comfort, but not happiness. Everyone is so obsessed with his role that there is little time to pause for a moment and ask himself "Am I a happy person or am I stuck with my role."

Yet, according to Swami Suddhananda no role is flawed. If you are complacent about your job as a manager it is not that all managers are bad — it is just that an incapable person happens to hold a managerial position. There's nothing wrong with the post — only with the individual. Hence the remedy lies in striking a balance between aiding the child to analyse his self as a human being, by inculcating the right values and honing his academic skills.

The session was sprinkled with laughter from the audience, who enjoyed Swamiji's subtle humour. At the same time, Swamiji did not forget to caution the crowd: "Laugh... but understand the seriousness beneath it."

For an ignorant person the mind is where the body is, for the educated, the mind is everywhere else but where the body is, but for the wise wherever the thought is, the body is — so let's make our students both educated and wise, he concluded.

The profundity of the words was striking.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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