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Modern Education-Killing Curiosity
“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”
The discrepancy in our modern system of education is the lack of questioning. Today teachers consider delivering the lecture as their greatest priority, and questioning is usually given tertiary importance in the methodical hierarchy. Modern education has destroyed the wonderful ability to question, to ask, to be curious. Perhaps this is its one sin for which there is no atonement.
All of us have heard about the accidental discovery of classical physics- Newton discovering gravity by questioning the event of an apple falling to the earth. However, history, which is often specious, also tells us that Newton faced a lot of opposition, especially from the teachers at his university, who were bound to claim that he was following a wild goose chase. Nevertheless, curiosity did it, and Newton discovered and presented his empirical laws, which owe their birth to the deviation from the educational method.
Teachers, especially those who follow the traditional method of delivering the lecture as-it-is, often claim that curiosity is bad, quoting the aphorism: Curiosity kills the cat. Maybe their stance is correct in a sense, but in my humble opinion, it is better to be curious and die than to remain an ignorant fool who believes everything he is told.
Curiosity breeds research. As Robert Louis Stevenson says:
“It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it”
Whenever you’re inquisitive about anything, you ponder, reflect over it and do a bit of research to clear your concepts. If you are intrigued, you wade through rivers to discover an eel’s migration, you follow a lemming trail and you practice brachiation to discover more about the interesting lives apes and chimpanzees lead. Curiosity is the mother of research; it is the key factor that led to the evolution of research.
Why children are said to resemble philosophers? Because there is a common likeness between both; both are curious. As Aldous Huxley says:
“Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardor, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.”
Modern education, with all its finesse and diplomacy is doing nothing except curbing curiosity. Curiosity is thought of as a form of evil and many teachers practically implement the idiom “nip the evil in the bud” by telling off students who are curious and eager to discover more about the way things work. This is the greatest crime of modern education, for which it cannot be exonerated.
The right to express ourselves is one of the basic rights that every human enjoys. Emotions, which play the most vital role in our development from toddling babies to great men, must be encouraged to grow if they represent positivity. Based on the definition of curiosity given by Edmund Burke, we must take steps to enhance and encourage curiosity, not abhor it.
Today we live in a society that is doing its best to destroy the framework that defines curiosity. We must play our part to save it; else we’ll be like oblivious fools who accept anything thrown at them. This is what we must save ourselves from. Alexander Pope sums up the general attitude of our society in the following words:
“A person who is too nice an observer of the business of the crowd, like one who is too curious in observing the labor of bees, will often be stung for his curiosity.”
The prerogative of modern education must be re-defined. It must be synchronized to the frequency of Anatole France’s thought:
“The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.”
If we try remodeling the basic framework of modern education, we can contribute to the development of our society. Happiness can be reached by curiosity, as it kindles a fire whose ashes form the basis of science and philosophy.
“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”
Zora Neale Hurston