Aamar Amar Ekushey – II

This makes me want to puke – for two reasons actually. More on those in awhile.

This is what I wrote some time back. Things have changed a little since then. Little but majorly.

Now for why I felt like throwing up on seeing that video. Two reasons:

  1. Adults have no idea what 21st February means for Bangladesh. Fully grown men and women, in their full senses claiming to love this country so much, have no idea regarding this country’s birth. I have never hidden my disdain and dislike for this country, yet even I can narrate this country’s history better than these disgraceful “patriots”. So stop calling me “unpatriotic”. -.-
  2. Did anyone notice the claim made by someone that “schools don’t teach history that well”? (Meh, most don’t teach jack well). I grew up in an Indian adminstered then a Pakistani administered school. I can narrate histories of the English monarchy and the Indian subcontinent better than these people can recite the occurrences of the Language Movement.

So what gives? Everything. Schools don’t teach properly. Mathematics, science, language, you name it. It’s all a mess.

Bear in mind that teachers are a part of this society and their teachings are a reflection of what society is and what they are. That is true by and large. There are a few who preach and act differently, they are quickly put down, pressured, oppressed. Besides, can a scattered handful have any impact against the will of many? Do I hear you say “None.”? Remember that the next time any of you support a minority irrespective of the reason. So now I question, is it worth it to continuously swim against the tide? But that is a different story, back to the point.

My nephew is in Grade 6. So he is being taught about place values. You don’t know what place values are? Here. Hope that helps, if it doesn’t, then you don’t deserve to know the computer even exists. -.-

The thing is, if he is given a nicely drawn and labelled table showing what the place values are and where the numbers should go, in an order he is familiar with, he does them fine. Tell him to do it any other way and “Houston, we have a problem.” I could cough up a computer program to do that even though I never studied computer science! So he’s good as a machine; he gets good marks, answers all the questions correctly; except twist things a little bit and he gets stumped, like a machine. Here I see the process of “dumbing down” at work. Brilliant. The brilliance of the stupidity of the teachers is blinding. The acquiescence of the parents is stultifying. That their children are being programmed, becoming mindless drones who will be efficient only and not the least bit creative, is the most stupefying thought that occurs to me. Perhaps the whole culture of absolute submission to your elders is, in my opinion, the biggest culprit.

Continuing with the place values example, how long before he realises the importance of place values? Coupled with approximation, I could give ballpark answers to questions that seem ridiculous ([1.233456*10^10] * [4.6789*10^10] anyone?).

In this setting, that which works is taught without giving any reason as to why it works. Anyone finding a new way to make something work or doing it differently is quickly brought into line doing the same thing, first by pointing to the culture, one of absolute submission to elders’ will, then by enforcing that culture, a.k.a. punishment. Punishment can be the form of not giving marks in a test or exam, overlooking for a deserved promotion, socially ostracising the person, there can be no end to non-physical methods. It is this fear of these non-physical methods that leads one to go with the flow, regardless of whether the flow is right or wrong, whether one knows the situation will lead to good or bad.

Before you get a brain sprain, let me twist my words for you and twist them back into shape. Didn’t those who demonstrated in 1952 and went to war in 1971 know about the bad things (getting killed) that could’ve happened to them? Yes, I definitely am not stupid enough to think that they went in without knowing the possible consequences. They knew it yet they went in. Knowing full well the consequences, they chose to participate. The requirement required of most now is nothing compared to then? Here’s where I twist it back. How can I compare the attempt at cultural annihilation with something that can be rectified so simply? Treason! Well, that’s what they said of Guy Fawkes too,except that he is now viewed more positively.

There is a reason why I am comparing the two. Both have cultural annihilation as their end. One was overt and meant to be swift (military and political force), the other is a covert process taking generations (stagnation of the education system). We are obsessed with making an obscenely huge song and dance about history that we are entirely sacrificing all of the creation of history.

Confused? Here’s my explanation: All of knowledge can be split into 6 categories represented by what, why, when, where, whom, and how. The crudest form of knowledge is called information and can be represented by what, when, where, whom. Next is something that forms a very muddy area between information and knowledge, how. Finally comes real knowledge, why. Once you know why, you can predict how, and using the two, predict what, when, where, whom. Our education system is geared towards teaching what, when, where, whom and a little bit of how. Seldom do they dig deeper and go into the why. Let us take the example of the Language Movement itself, I am sure many will be able to recite what happened, the players involved, when it happened and where. Or Google it. That however does not explain the significance of the whole matter nor does it say why the situation played itself out as it did. So teachers mention about an event in passing without really driving the point home. Would anyone really remember the discussion? Very little of it. Unless the students were forced to mug up the whole thing. Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of education? Yes, they all know what happened, can they say why it happened? Any information record can say what happened as well. Come to think of it, any information record can also produce a list of “whys” something is or happened. List that was produced by those thinking about the matter, the “whys” did not produce themselves nor make themselves apparent just cause they wanted to be known.

That is where our educational system is failing. Students can narrate stories, seldom can they tell why or explain the significance of a story. This is getting ridiculously long, let me leave you with food for thought: what is the the significance of the story The Ugly Duckling? Simple example no? If this simple example left you scratching your head, then what complexities do events in real life weave?

Edit: See comment.


  1. Ahmed Waris al Majid

    According to my mother the objective of an education system is develop a students baboharic , mental and ethical competence , best translation

  2. Ahmed Waris al Majid

    ‘All of knowledge can be split into 6 categories represented by what, why, when, where, whom.’
    you forgot to mention ‘how’. 😛


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