Posted by: miilee | February 17, 2010

We Don’t Need No EjUkAsHuN

I think Pink Floyd touched a nerve with that number…. “We Don’t need no education… Teachers leave us kids alone”

And I can’t see why not.

When I look back on my schooling I can think of only three or four exemplary teachers who actually added long lasting value to my life (one of them being my own mother) Seeing that it encompasses four schools, one Jr. College and one Degree College, that is a measly number!

Tell me, how many of you remember Mendeleev‘s Periodic Table of Elements? Or Newton’s Third Law of Motion?

I can almost see the winces and hear the pained sighs in most of you. You recall, don’t you, those frustrated hours of rote learning all those complicatedly worded laws and stuff? How many hours did you spend ridiculing Newton for having thought so much over a fallen apple instead of having eaten it right away? How many times have you laughed at Einstein‘s hair? And you possible couldn’t have wanted to  murder Mendeleev as brutally as I did.

For us, Newton was this jerk who was sitting under a tree one evening who started spouting physics when an apple dropped on his head. And Mendeleev was just another long name that we had to get right for the Fill In The Blanks questions. And though I knew all of the Laws by heart (I could recite them in my sleep) I never understood any of them and for the love of God, can’t recall a word of any of them now!

Given that I spent half of my most energetic days in ‘learning’ them, it looks like such a vast, colossal, gigantic, gynormic, and entirely avoidable waste of my time! If I still don’t know what they signified or ever use them in my life, why did I waste those many hours? I could have enjoyed a little more of that sunshine or played a little more.

Recently, I picked up this book, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. In a style and language of his own, Bryson has detailed everything from the beginning of time, through the birth of the various branches of sciences and into the New Age. And with a narration so beautiful that I couldn’t possibly over rate it even if I tried.

I felt like a child being taken on a safari by a wizened old Grandfather. I clung on to that finger as I let my feet be directed into the wonders of science and allowed my eyes to see things I’d never seen before. I saw Newton, Mendeleev, Einstein and hundreds of other men of science. I saw them as men and saw how hard they’d worked for each of their contributions to science. I witnessed all the awful treacheries and squabbles that mark the pages of human progress. I glanced at the extent of human stupidity and peered at the heights of human brilliance.

I saw the significance of the Periodic Table; the one thing that finally brought order to the highly unorganized world of Chemistry. I saw Newton beyond the three laws. I saw scientists rise to power, and then fall just as abruptly. I saw men who never got their share of glory but lead a life of abject misery. I saw the men behind the Objective answers in my school textbooks.

And most importantly, I learnt. That which more than a decade of schooling could not do, one man did with a book. I actually realised that I probably would have loved Chemistry had a Bill Bryson told me how things actually fell into place for me to learn them the way are today.

The ONLY reason I don’t like Math and Science today is because a bunch of inefficient, uninsightful and highly boring people knocked together an education system rougher than the first wheel ever made. I wasn’t born to hate theorems and proofs. They made me hate them. I had no deep rooted grudge against scientists. They planted it in my head.

For all practicality, they murdered not only some of the most ingenious findings of the world but tens of thousands of prospective mathematicians, physicists,  chemists, and God knows what else. My parents entrusted my little mind into their hands to train; they traumatized it. And they did it to thousands like me.

So with no qualms, I say this to everyone even remotely associated with the education field;

If you can’t open the doors to the wonderland of knowledge, Please… Leave us kids alone!



  1. Being a hard core chemistry student.. i just loved this !! nice writin 🙂

    • thanks! It is now that i realize that even I could have loved science had they not tried to teach it to me…

  2. Let’s say teachers should teach rather than doing their job.

    • yeah, i guess…. we don’t need just teachers… we need educators….

  3. dun worry i mite teach u someday if u intrested 🙂 n i wil b Educator 🙂 lol

    • lol.. don’t think i’ll go down the chemistry lane for a while…. will probably read books on my own… but that’s it.. 🙂

  4. All in all is just another brick in the wall !!!
    actually i still hav all d newton’s law stuff n all in my syllubes… duh? but i still dont know about it 😀
    and the way u described that book i will soon read it… sounds intresting…. 🙂
    n i guess all of us think the same “We Don’t Need No EjUkAsHuN”…….

    • Trust me on that book dude.. It is beautiful! I fell in love with Chemistry and Archeology…
      And yeah, we all are a little fed up of being taught how to think… aren’t we?

  5. hey wanted to add ur blog to my google reader or add it in google friend connect. Please could you add a RSS feed or the friend connect widget. Thanks

    BTW I love ur blog 🙂

    • Hey thanks! There’s a subscription you could use.. will figure out the friend connect widget..

    • hey.. added the RSS widget.. chk if it’s the right thing.. (I suck at this stuff!!)

      • The RSS is working fine…have added it now. Thanks 🙂

  6. While I agree that teaching is an art that few master, I think you should interpret your love for the book from the perspective of a person who has already grown up had some worldly knowledge and wants/can understand things much better. I think probably the book would not have made the same impression had you read this in your 8th standard 🙂

    • probably. but instead of making me write the laws of motion a 500 times to make me learn them, if my teacher would have really made me see how Newton made those laws, I probably would have learnt, understood and would have respected the men of science for what they are. I probably would have had a sense of awe for science, as it rightly deserves; not the grudge that i bore for it for all these years. none of us were born with a hatred for science, math, history, geography etc.. they were presented to us in a hateful package..

  7. Right on the money. How can teachers most of whom themselves are freshly out of school “teach”. My opinion of teachers changed when I became a graduate assistant. I started grading undergraduate papers and realized that the questions were the same year after year. The profession was not even bothering to update his course structure.

    • My mother herself is a teacher and she is brilliant at it! I have studied under her myself too and never has she taught the same lesson twice in the same manner! There has to be innovation in the way things are taught. A friend tells me of her math professor who told the stories behind the making of each theorem and that’s how the class remembers them well. These exceptional teachers are proof for the fact that the same stuff can be taught in a better manner. They just don’t take the efforts.
      As they say, a mediocre teacher teaches, a good teacher explains, an amazing teacher enlightens and the best teacher inspires. We seem to have pitiably few of the last two categories..

  8. being a student of science, I really think you got it absolutely right…

    As kids, we all hated Newton, Archimedes and Mendeleev on the day before our exams but we never thanked them when we are sitting in an AC room and switching channels on a TV using a remote control.

    • True… But there are some select few (VERY rare) teachers who lead children to fall in love with the subjects. Why is it that we have so few of them? And the inefficiency of the existing mass of teachers results in an entire generation of people hating science….

  9. There is a set of documentaries by Carl Sagan named “Cosmos”… I think those are really fantastic and wished I saw it as a kid… The DVD set should be the birthday gift for every 14 year old…

    • Interesting! I’ll check it out and probably keep it in mind for my young cousins. Thanks for letting me know about it 🙂

  10. I sometimes wonder if your generation as kids are developing grouching into a fine art?

    Suppose your time hadn’t been wasted by Messrs Newton and Co., what would you kids have done? Played a few more video games, watched a lot more TV and chatted some more on your mobiles.

    True, we have a dearth of good minds in Staff rooms.But tell me, how many of you have chosen teaching as a profession? With few teachers and the rising numbers of children entering schools, the EDUCATION of sense is bound to go down the drains.

    • One: It is the kids NOW that is into all those mobile phones and things. We spent our childhood playing gully cricket, climbing trees and cycling all over the place. Things which one can do only in one’s childhood. So yes, Our time WAS wasted.
      Two: Agreed not too many of us have opted for this profession but how many parents willingly let their children opt for this profession? anything that is not science is already looked down upon and if we go on to teaching, not too many of us have the strength to stand the scorn from our parents. Young people today are carrying the cross for the faults of the generations before. Not too many of us entered the profession because it carries a stigma. And who attached the stigma?
      Not meaning to push the blame, but for once, instead of attaching all those decorative adjectives to us, it is time for the elders to take responsibility for some of the things which has resulted in this messed up today…

  11. I do not agree that we wasted time by playing gully cricket and secretly swimming in the Godavari river (okay I did it!)…

    The biggest advantage we had was free time and an open mind. We were responsible for our own entertainment which results in something very creative. The kids these days depend on fast food entertainment like video games and mobile phones which does little to enhance any important skill…

    A child can learn a LOT from just spending some time on a ground with a stick… just a stick in a ground digging a hole, curiously exploring the surroundings… I don’t see that happening now.

    Even fun is being carefully planned and rehearsed event because the parents don’t get time! It is really robbing them off their childhood…

    • You’re dead right about that! Children today are whiling away hours in front of the TV or with video games which teach them to be violent. God knows how many hours I spent with stray dogs, and trees under the sun. It made me sensitive to others and also made me tough. Children today are not a match to what we were and I suspect that is a direct consequence of inefficient parenting.

  12. I think the kids are being pampered by the parents beyond accepted levels because they are feeling guilty at some corner of their mind that they are not spending enough time with their kids…

    they do need some lessons on parenting!

    • true…..

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