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Comprachicos or modern day educators?

Comprachicos or modern day educators?
Highlights

In Victor Hugo’s novel ‘The Man Who Laughs’ he describes the comprachicos thus:“The comprachicos (child buyers) were strange and hideous nomads in the ...

In Victor Hugo’s novel ‘The Man Who Laughs’ he describes the comprachicos thus:
“The comprachicos (child buyers) were strange and hideous nomads in the 17th century. They made children into sideshow freaks.

To succeed in producing a freak one must get hold of him early; a dwarf must be started when he is small. They stunted growth, they mangled features. It was an art/science of inverted orthopaedics.

We speak of sustainable energy but the need of the hour is “sustainable thinking” where the present generation of adults not only bequeath the younger generation their inheritance in terms of material things but also in their intellectual thinking so that children learn to think independently, intellectually and think seamlessly to become torch bearers of the great civilisation we represent

Where nature had put a straight glance, this art put a squint. Where nature had put harmony, they put deformity and imperfection. The child was not aware of the mutilation he had suffered.

This horrible surgery left traces on his face, not in his mind. During the operation the little patient was unconscious by means of a stupefying magic powder.

In China since time immemorial, they have achieved refinement in a special art and industry: the moulding of living man. One takes a child two or three years old and puts them into a grotesquely shaped porcelain vase.

It is without cover or bottom, so the head and feet protrude. In the daytime the vase is upright, at night it is laid down so the child can sleep. Thus the child slowly fills the contours of the vase with compressed flesh and twisted bones. This bottled development continues for several years.

At a certain point, it becomes an irreparable monster. Then the vase is broken and one has a man in the shape of a pot."

The present-day businessmen-educators have turned the education system into a cauldron of complicated learning where the child from infancy is pushed into a world he can hardly comprehend where his individual thinking is throttled and his genius and creativity suffocated.

A child’s mind is known to be tabula rasa at the time of his birth but society, family and the education system form a poisonous concoction to deform, maim and circumvent his thinking into a convoluted labyrinth of confusion and into an abyss from which he has no escape.

Indian education is entrenched with well-established institutions that are internationally recognised. But the system is characterised by meaningless learning routines without proper understanding of conceptual learning. Adding to the tragedy the profession of primary school teaching is heavily commercialised where the child’s creativity takes a backseat.

And if a child performs well in exams they are used as social trophies by their parents and the school to showcase to the world as “role models”. So consciously or unconsciously everyone is in the rat race to excel. Little do they know, the day they stop racing is the day they win the race.

Albert Einstein rightly said education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think. The modern formal education system should not suffocate or kill the creativity and inquisitiveness of the child.

It should act as catalyst to hasten a child’s genius and act as a window to the world of opportunities. Children must be free to explore the world, to realise their unique potential and discover themselves and their true nature and potential. Our schools should change from being text book prisons to laboratories of exploration.

They should train the child to think intellectually and think of new perspectives and possibilities.Has modernisation destroyed the nature of true learning? Is education merely a means of climbing the economic ladder? Does the education system in India fail miserably?

Are children free from the burden of parental aspirations? Are they free from the norms of social conditioning? Do they know that people who think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do? What we need is a revolution in the education system and an upheaval in the process of learning so as to match the speeding clock of innovation and invention.

Education must be made a tool of learning not a hurdle, a system where the capacity of mind isn’t measured by marks or grades in an exam. Where learning isn’t a race and where flaws are appreciated. We need a system of sustainable learning for the future generations to protect them from perishing .The rate of learning should match the rate of development.

Lewis Carroll says:
Let craft, ambition spike
Be quenched in reason’s night
Till weakness turn to might
Till what is dark be light
Till what is wrong be right.

We speak of sustainable energy but the need of the hour is “sustainable thinking” where the present generation of adults not only bequeath our younger generation their inheritance in terms of material things but also in their intellectual thinking so that children learn to think independently, intellectually and think seamlessly to become torch bearers of the great civilisation we represent.

By Ashra Banu (The author is a student of University College for Women, Koti, Hyderabad)

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