Children must be taught how to think and not what to think

Education is the reflection of the character of an individual. It forms the very basis of the life and persona of an individual. Though over the centuries, decades and years there has been an increased impetus on education, the Q-factor(Q-factor) is still a moot aspect in the field of education.

The ‘what’ and ‘how’ conundrum: Quality v/s Quantity

‘What’ signifies a factual approach of thinking, a thought process which is bound by limits so imposed by someone, say, a syllabus imposed by the school/college authorities. On the other hand, “how” gives complete freedom to the student to think so as to let his imagination unfold in all possible directions and discover various dimensions of knowledge.

In brevity, while “what” is the quantitative aspect of learning, “how” presents the qualitative aspect of it.

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Why “How” rules over “what”?

There are many instances to prove the superiority of “how” over “what” when it comes to the thinking process. Let us have a look at them.

In the historical area, we could find a number of such instances. Another example lies in the modern history-The colonial era in India and elsewhere wanted people to think and uphold the British superiority over them- this is “what” they wanted us to think. But, there were protagonists like Mahatma Gandhi who had an out of the “what” thinking process and questioned “how” to get rid of the British subordination.

In the social sphere, the status of women presents an apt example. A “what” mentality would have perpetuated the fact or stereotypes regarding women- women are weaker physically and mentally, they are meant to serve the men among others. Those who knew “how” to think came out of the factual approach and upheld a “just and equitable” situation for all human beings including women. Social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy is an apt fit in the above-mentioned case. Same applies to the other forms of discrimination like that based on caste. Dr. B.R Ambedkar came out of the traditional mindset and questioned the very authority of the system.

In the cultural and religious sphere, we have some contemporary examples. The “what” mentality has led and is leading to the unfortunate process of “radicalization” of the youth of certain religion/s. As their minds are fed with certain facts that they accept as true, extremist tendencies take them over leading to disastrous consequences. Also, various temple entry movements by different sections whether untouchables, women etc. also present the breaking of “what” mentality by the “how” mentality.

In the field of science as well, many examples are of utmost relevance. All the scientists from Einstein to Edison and from Newton to Raman are the inventors of phenomena which were not known before them. With a “what to think” mentality they would have gained knowledge of all the books but with “how to think” mentality they have “n” number of books written in their names. Also, the rapid growth of technology is a result of the latter mentality. New innovators from Jobs to Musk all have this aspect in common.

In the field of international relations, let us recall the Vietnam-US war. By abiding by the “what to think” mentality they would have been defeated even before the war. However, thinking beyond the general beliefs (‘what’), they knew “how” to think and the result was different from “what” people were thinking- Vietnam won the war.

In the economic sphere, the 1991 crisis in India could provide a suitable example. While “what to think” would have brought pessimism in the minds due to widespread losses, imbalances, and pestilence in the economy, “how to think” mindset brought about the Liberalisation, Privatisation, and Globalisation(LPG) reforms.

In the political sphere,” what to think” in India could have led to a status quoits approach, which often was infested with corruption and malpractices,  “how to think” brought an upsurge in the form of the India Against Corruption movement led by Anna Hazare.

In the ecological sphere, a person with “what to think” mentality would exploit the nature as a reserve of infinite resources while a person with a ”how to think” mindset like Gandhi would spread his wisdom saying “there is enough for man’s need but not for man’s greed”.

The Indian education system and the “how to think” element:

Indian education system is often criticized because of the missing element of “how to think”. The qualitative education is missing at all the levels of education in most (if not all) of the institutions. A figure which corroborates this is- “Around 80% of the engineers in India are not employable”.

This dismal situation is mainly due to excessive impetus on “what to think” element. A defined syllabus binds the thinking of the student to it. This leads to greater focus on completing the syllabus and scoring marks making the education quantitative rather than qualitative.

As India is boasting of its demographic potential with half of its population less than 25 years of age, an overhaul of the education system becomes imperative. The potential could be tapped and dividends out of it could be reaped only when the human “resources” are shown the right way of thinking.

Mahatma Gandhi showed the way through his “Wardha scheme” of education in which he focused on “learning through activity” so that the children could learn “how to think”.

As education plays the cornerstone role in the life of an individual, a necessary transformation is a sine qua non in this field. A gradual and effective transition from “what” to “how”  is the guiding light for this transformation.

Breakfast Special: Stuffed Biscuit Roti

 

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Stuffed Biscuit Roti

 

Ingredients:

  • Base:
    • Maida: 1 cup.
    • Ghee: 2 Tablespoon.
    • Milk Powder: 2 Tablespoon.
    • Sugar Powder:  2 Tablespoon.
    • Salt: 1/2 teaspoon.
    • Ajwain: 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Stuffing:
    • Boiled Chana dal: 1/2 cup.
    • Crushed Mint leaves: 2 tablespoon.
    • Red chilli powder: 1 teaspoon.
    • Chat Masala: 1 teaspoon.
    • Salt.
  • Garnishing:
    • Curd.
    • Tamarind(Imli) Chutney.
    • Finely Chopped Onion.
    • Namkeen Bundi

Procedure:

Part 1:

  • Mix all the ingredients of the base.
  • Add water and prepare a soft dough.
  • Roll to make it 1/2 inch thick roti.
  • With the help of a glass cut out round pieces.
  • Prick with the help of a knife.
  • Bake in 180 degree pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.

Part 2:

  • Mix all the ingredients of stuffing.
  • On the roti place some stuffing.
  • Garnish with the garnishing ingredients mentioned above.

 

Gangaur Special: Namkeen Khaja Papdi

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Ingredients:

  • Besan : 1 Kg.
  • Oil: 200 grams.
  • Red Chilli Powder: 2 Table Spoon.
  • Ajwain: 1 Tea Spoon.
  • Cumin Seeds: 1 Tea Spoon.
  • Salt: According to taste.

Procedure:

  • Mix all the above-mentioned ingredients.
  • Add water and make a soft dough.
  • Make small balls and roll “puris” out of them.
  • Prick the puris and let them dry for 10 minutes or so.
  • Deep fry the puris till they attain crisp.

Sweet Delight: Khopra Pak

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Coconut Barfi(Khopra Pak)

Ingredients:

  • Mawa: 1 Kg.
  • Grated Coconut: 200 grams.
  • Sugar: 250 grams.
  • Homemade Paneer(Cottage Cheese): 50 grams.

Procedure:

  •  Cook the Mawa on a low flame for 10 minutes.
  • Add sugar and paneer to it.
  • Cook till the sugar melts.
  • Turn off the stove and stir till it attains room temperature.
  • Now, add grated coconut and mix well.
  • In a greased tray, pour the above product and let it settle for an hour.
  • Cut out barfi shaped pieces .

Bhagwat Gita : Solving Ethical Dilemmas

In our lives, we come across a number of situations when one can’t make a clear decision about what choice to make and which action to take. The situation of extreme confusion is called a dilemma. A number of times we come across what we call an ethical dilemma. It is a situation when we have to choose between two aspects, both ethically sound, but one of them is the best solution.

Let us take an example of a person who is a prospect groom. In his wedding, his parents try to put pressure on the other side for dowry. The person(prospect groom) is against it. However, he cannot go against his parents as well. So, now, the groom is in an ethical dilemma. The two ethical choices with him are: First, going against his parents by voicing against the acts they are involved in and second, Letting it happen while respecting what his parents are doing.

The question now is: How to solve such and even higher category dilemmas that may often upsurge in one’s life? The answer is well imbibed in the Bhagwad Gita.

The Bhagwad Gita is a conversation between Sri Krsna and Arjuna in the in the mid of battlefield. The situation is that Arjuna is in a dilemma whether to fight against his relatives or back off from the battle. So, here Sri Krsna guides Arjuna with words of wisdom, reviving in him the sense of duty again.

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How did Lord Krsna show the path?

  • Krsna advised Arjuna to perform his “prescribed” duty. As a kshatriya, the prescribed duty of Arjuna was to fight the battle. However, due to attachment, he failed to realize his duty and was up to surrender.
  • So, the root of solving such a dilemma lies in dutifulness. The Kurus were relatives later and enemies first for Arjuna. But, Arjuna failed to understand this and wrongly prioritized his preferences leading to an ethical dilemma.
  • Lord Krsna told Arjuna that his “prescribed” duty was his(Lord’s) injunction and should not be ignored. Even if he refuses to perform his duty the end of Kurus was definite as the Lord himself would kill them. So, he told Arjuna to become a means of Lord’s plan and execute his duty.
  • If he did not do so, he would become a performer of sin. If he did so, then it would serve the larger purpose of destruction of the sinners and restoration of dharma.

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How this instruction could be relevant in our lives?

Apply this principle to the above example:

  • Duty as a citizen: Voice against the wrongs.
  • Dilemma due to – Parental pressure or duty as a son to obey his parents.
  • Which of these would serve the larger purpose?
    • The answer is the first one as if he voices against the wrongs, it would be ethical as well as utilitarian for the society.

Therefore, the solution to the dilemma is to perform the duty that would serve the larger good. This is the path being shown to us by the Bhagwat Gita.

 

 

Rebirth and Transmigration-Explained

The theory of rebirth or multiple births of the same person is a moot philosophical topic. While some uphold it’s legitimacy to explain a number of philosophical and spiritual concepts, others reject it as absurd and baseless. In this post, we will be discussing about the concept of rebirth and transmigration.

  • Why should I accept rebirth and transmigration of soul?:
    • The proponents of rebirth give the argument of transmigration of soul as an argument to support their stand.
    • Soul is taken to be the ground of consciousness of a being. Soul is not material in nature and so it can never be destroyed.
    • Thus, death is related to body and not soul.
    • So, where does the soul go? The answer is transmigration. It transmigrates from one body to another over different lives.
    • This argument for transmigration of soul /rebirth is upheld by the Indian text. Bhagwad Gita and also by the Western Philosopher, Plato.

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  • Do we get the same body or a different one?:
    • This is decided by the Law of Karmaabout which we have explained earlier.
    • According to the Bhagwad Gita -We get our body according to our deeds.For example, if we justified our human life by human-like work or activities, then we would get a human body while if a human being develop qualities like laziness or stagnation, then he could get a body of a stagnant object or being such as a tree.
    • Also, it is said that if we are very ambitious for accomplishing something in this life but we die before doing that, we take birth in the circumstances conducive for the accomplishment of that desire.
  • What are some of the arguments for rebirth other than transmigration of soul?
    • Buddhism: due to ignorance or Avidya, the cycle of birth and death called Dvadasnidana keep on recurring.
    • Jainism: Ignorance, that is, indulgence in the material life leading to Ashrava and Bandha(bondage).
  • What is bondage and what is its relation with rebirth?:
    • Bondage results out of extreme indulgence of oneself in material aspects of life due to the desire for pleasure.
    • This leads to the cycle of birth and death. As desire moulds our karma and thus, governs our next life.
  • Is this cycle never-ending?
    • No, it is not.
    • The proponents of the rebirth explain the concept of liberation, that is, escape from this cycle of birth and death.
    • Bhagwad Gita: Bhakti Yoga or complete surrender to the Lord(Krsna) leads to liberation.
    • Jainism: Following the Panch Mahavrata(Satya, Ahimsa, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigriha).
    • Buddism: Following the Ashtangika Marg or the Eight-fold path.

Law of Karma: Explained.

In one of the previous posts, we explained in detail the notion of predestination.One of the important arguments for predestination is the Law of Karma. In this post, we will be explaining in detail the whole concept of the Law of Karma in detail.

  • What is Law of Karma?:
    • Law of Karma in general or layman terms can be put as -” As you sow, so shall you reap”.
    • So, essentially, it is a law of justice in the life of human beings.
  • If it is a law, then there needs to be a legislator and a regulator. Who is it?:
    • As commonly believed, this regulator/legislator is GOD.

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  • If Law of Karma is valid, then why do we see good people suffering and evil people thriving well?:
    • This is one of the strongest argument against the Law of Karma.
    • The defence so given by the proponents is that the law is not just applicable to this life but to all the lives of a human being.Thus, the notion of rebirth(to be explained in a later post) is central for the validity of the Law of Karma.
    • A human being who is doing evil deeds in this life in thriving well due to his good deeds of the previous birth.
  • Does Law of Karma define our destiny?:
    • As we understood in a previous post on Predestination, Law of Karma governs our destiny to a considerable extent.
  • Is Law of Karma consistent with free will?
    • This is also one of the common objections against the Law of Karma–> If everything is determined by the Law of KARMA, then the human beings do not have free will.
    • One extreme view would uphold that, yes, human beings do not have free will.This includes Western Philosophers like Baruch Spinoza and Indian Philosophers like Ajivikas.Other strike it down as absurd.
    • However, a balanced view has been explained on the basis of an analogy of “a horse tied to the pole with the help of a rope.” The horse could do whatever it wants to within a defined limit, that is, the radius of the rope and not beyond that. So, this radius signifies the limit to which we can do anything we want to in our life based on our free will. Beyond that, destiny plays its role.
  • How our desires get fructified on the basis of Law of Karma?:
    • This also can be understood with the help of a real life example.
    • Consider your desire to be a resume for a job. There are certain prerequisites for the job. If you fulfill those, then you are qualified for the job else your application is liable to be rejected. So, the need is to have those basic minimum requisites.
    • Now, apply it to your desire and fruits. Corresponding to every desire of yours there is a certain minimum level of karma required. If you have those, then, you will be able to accomplish your desire else not.
  • What is the significance of the Law of Karma?:
    • It motivates us to do good deeds so that we get good fruits in future, thus, promotes moral values among the believers.
  • What could be the negative consequences of the belief in Law of Karma?
    • It may induce a sense of irresponsibility as people would do away from accepting their mistakes.