One day a rich father went on a road trip with his young son. They were travelling to the farm lands where a number of poor farmers lived. After spending a long time there, the father and the young son on their final day sat on a hill and the father asked the son, “what have you learnt from this trip?”. The son with so much confidence stood up and said “ Beloved father, back home we only have space for one dog, but the people here have dogs everywhere; back home we have a tiny swimming pool, but the people here have rivers and ponds and dams which are never ending; our house is surrounded by a fence while here they have open farms” and the boy , with a smile on his face, said “father, the one thing I have learnt here is how poor we are”.
This story shows us how rich we are is not measured by how much we have, but it is measured by how much we make use of what we have. Before the trip, the son thought that since they had money, they were very rich but afterwards he finally realized that his life was poor because it had a lot of limits while the farmers lived a more vibrant life simply because they made use of every single blessing life had to offer. Therefore, when we limit ourselves to one particular field we are indeed poor.
I believe this life idea also relates to the education in Universities. What do I mean by this?
For example a student sitting in a class room from the day of his enrolment till the day of his graduation, he/she will definitely acquire knowledge but the knowledge that he has acquired will be so limited that it only allows him to pass the final exam conducted by the university but when it comes to the daily exam life poses before us, he will definitely fail. No, the question is, why would he fail? And the answer to this is very simple. Life gives us a wide range of lessons to learn from, our surroundings are not made up of grey concrete walls like those of the classrooms, but they are made up of culture, they are made up of morals, ethics, values and above the beauty of creativity and colour that lies within each and every one of us.
Even though we have the best of the books, even though we may sit in the best of the classrooms, the knowledge that we get from these sources is very much limited as compared to the endless lessons our surroundings have to teach. We should not limit our capabilities, for deep within each and every one of us a lies a specific talent, a talent that hungers to be let out in the world. Now the only way to fully express this talent is by exposing ourselves more to our surroundings. A man by the name of Jean Piaget once said, “The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and to discover, to create man who is capable of doing new things”. In other words, education is supposed to make us understand our surroundings better and above all, real education is supposed to make us understand ourselves best.
I normally take time to walk around and observe classroom sessions, each and every time I look through the window, I do not see black and white, but rather I see a rainbow, I see red, green, yellow, blue, all these representing a particular personality that lies within the students. During my school days, my science teacher, while teaching about catalysts, added some powder in a jar full of chemicals and immediately bubbles started coming out. We were so young then that the entire class started clapping hands and laughing. The teacher filled with anger asked why we were laughing and clapping instead of taking notes and one small girl raised her hand and she said “Sir, we thought you had performed a magic trick”. Education is very much like a catalyst. It speeds up the reactions of knowledge between our talents and our surroundings.
During the recently held Dhoom festival here in Parul University, I saw Engineers become dancers, I saw doctors become fashion icons. I looked once again and I saw pharmacy students singing the most beautiful songs which touched hearts. This is what education has to archive. It should teach the individuals adapt easily to different conditions of life. A week later, I was even more amazed during an Annual Technical Festival called Projections where an engineering student developed an amazing Water Purifier Machine out of the cheapest materials and I came to know that there is no engineering text book in the world that will tell you that poor farmers in the villages are suffering from shortage of clean drinking water. This is something that you only learn when the education from the classroom makes you understand and relate to your society better and above all, world around you.
A friend of mine had a wedding, and on this wedding, the food was served in a buffet. It was filled with different kinds of dishes, some spicy, some sweet, and some simply mild. Looking at such varieties of dishes served, a man who stood just in front of me in the line turned towards me and said, “How ironic it is that the plates which are provided to carry these numerous food items are so small. ”
In simple words, the classroom is like the tiny plate we are holding in our hands when we go through the buffet of education. We should not limit ourselves to little things and should always strive to cultivate an inquiring attitude and learn from each and every incident we come across during our student life and shall always try not to make a mistake of limiting our education to classrooms and should always endeavour to learn from our participation in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities during our tenure in the university.
We need to make sure that we are not holding tiny vessels when education offers us a sumptuous meal. We need to overcome challenges and always challenge our self-imposed limitations in order to archive the highest level of success.
By Dr Devanshu J Patel
President, Parul University