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Opinion: When the scientist in me was killed

curious


By Muzaffar Ahmad Wagay

Finally, I broke the glass bottle and was happy to see my small dream materialized. On that day, I was feeling no less than a scientist. The pleasure of the adventure was such that I skipped my lunch. And then we lit that candle in my home that night

A man has been sent in this world with tremendous capabilities, and Allah SWT, our Creator, has given a human being enough opportunities to explore his capabilities. Allah has not put any bar or restriction on human beings to quench their thirst of curiosity. We as humans are born free without any distinction of cast, creed, colour, or religion. It is up to us how far we go in the quest of knowing the unknown. In the early stages of life, a child is more curious about exploring new things. This is the reason that once sees a child asking questions which may sometimes seem stupid to grownups. They ask almost about everything. One needs to keep a track of a child’s enquiries so that his or her field of interest may be discovered earlier and he or she be put on that track to prosper in the future.

I strongly believe that a group of children who sit in the four walls of a classroom has a future doctor, philosopher, poet, scientist, engineer, and a leader in its fold. It, as such, is the responsibility of a teacher and mentor to carve these roles out of his students. Besides a strong curriculum framework, the mindset of a teacher shall decide what a child will become after the completion of his course of studies. As an architect it is the responsibility of a teacher to decide what he wants to carve out from this wet clay. The colours he wishes to fill in the intellectual canvass of a kid, the future of a child shall be likewise beautiful. Therefore, it is highly recommended for an educator to polish these fragile brains to make them diamonds.

 

Not only is it the responsibility of a teacher to save the precious human generation from being wasted, there should also be a good curriculum which may help in the development of a child academically. Our present educational system is in shambles. It does not give us the expected results. It does not know what it has been set for. The problems with it is that it is nowhere practical. Had it been so, unemployment would not have been such a huge social and economic burden that it has turned into. I believe that the motive of education is emancipation. Education should give a person, economic, political, emotional, and intellectual emancipation which, unfortunately, is nowhere to be seen in our present system. What our system is producing is an army of politically, socially, economically, and intellectually handicapped people. Education was not meant for this. It was meant to create a generation of socially, politically, and scientifically mature and independent people.

If we want to come out of this desperate situation, the rule of “necessity is the mother of invention” needs to be followed, so that we can curb this dependency culture. For example, food is the necessity of every living being, therefore the necessity of food is the driving force for a person to produce it. Having said that if a student is not able to produce his own food by putting his expertise into action, which he or she has got after spending precious years of his or her life in educational institutes, then it means he or she has wasted the time with a futile exercise, likewise is the case with other necessities.

If we talk about the scientific education we provide in the institutions, we spend lot of money and human recourse on it. But at the end, we do not see our society prepared to meet our own needs in the fields, be it science and technology, food cultivation, textiles, manufacturing etc. Same is the case with a child if he asks for a toy, my opinion of education and training is, to give him tools to make his own toy. Do not give him a toy and kill his scientific enquiry, rather urge him to make any type of toy he wants. It would serve a greater purpose. This type of approach will boost his morals, build confidence and most importantly he will start looking at himself as a creator of his own things, not as a beggar and receiver. This approach will always motivate him to serve humanity in different ways. When you create something of your own it gives you confidence and immense pleasure. And your scientific conscience is flourished rather than killed. At the early stage of cognitive development of a child if he is not provided with a chance to develop his ability of scientific query, it, by time, diminishes and eventually fades away. When I was a child, I used to reach every corner of my house. I had a curiosity of knowing about everything. One day I found some left out fats in a tin box. I asked my grandmother (May Allah SWT grant her paradise) about it. “What do we use this fat for”? She replied that we can make candles out of it. At that movement I made my mind to make a candle out of that waste. It took me a whole day to make a single candle. First, I brought an empty cough syrup glass bottle and filled it with that fat. Then I lit some pieces of charcoal pieces in my courtyard and placed the bottle over the hot pieces of charcoal and started blowing into it with my mouth. When the fat melted, I brought a strong piece of thread and dipped it in the melted fats. When it cooled down, it changed into its original form. Finally, I broke the glass bottle and was happy to see my small dream materialized. On that day, I was feeling no less than a scientist. The pleasure of the adventure was such that I skipped my lunch. And then we lit that candle in my home that night. My dad told me it may cost ten rupees, I was proud of myself that I saved my dad’s hard earned ten rupees some twenty years ago. Unfortunately, my scientific curiosity was not discovered and flourished therefore it got killed.

Therefore, it is the duty of an educator and a parent as well to look after the interests and potentials of a child so that he may be put them on the right path. It should be kept mind that aim of education is not only to make a person able to read books and be able to write, rather the aim of education is to make him beneficial for the society and self-reliant in every aspect of life. But the tragedy is that our educational system is designed in such a way that a person spends whole of his life in the educational institutes and at the end of the day, he is just able to read and write. The time is not so cheap that we may spend it just to literate ourselves, and to become able to learn foreign languages or read paragraphs from the books. Books should serve as instructional manuals for students and to develop scientific approach. It should never happen that we may consider our sole aim to be able to only read and write books, and speak foreign languages.

The need of the hour is that we have to change our approach as a society towards the contribution in the development of the humanity. Today our position is as that of a beggar. Although we feel proud in being able to use technology and different electronic gadgets, but when we see our contribution in the same, we see ourselves in the list of receivers. We cannot make a match box ourselves, leave aside the mobile phones or other necessities. We must shun this parasitic approach. We need to start working now and play our role as givers rather receivers. When we understand that, “upper hand is better than lower hand” at that time we will start revolutionizing every field. We need to revolutionize our educational sector by putting into it more practical than theoretical approach, we need to revolutionize our agricultural sector by putting more scientific assistance into it and become independent in terms of food production. We also have to become independent in architecture and designing, in fact we need to become emancipated politically, socially, scientifically, and culturally. When we do that, at that time we can say that our educational system is fruitful. And lastly it is the first and far most duty of an educator and a parent is to explore and point out the interests of a child, thus allow him to grow in a suitable environment educationally, so that he or she may achieve his/ her goal. Our job is to take care of the thing that no child’s inner scientist, educationist, artist, reformist and revolutionist gets killed without being given a chance to explore.

Author is an educator in Aarifeen School of Excellence in Baramulla, J&K. Feedback at [email protected]