I Heard A Who

A movie was released sometime this year called ‘Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who’. Though I didn’t get to see the movie, I gathered the story from the trailers and later read the reviews. As a child it fascinated me and made me think that a dust speck could be a being in itself, or there could be something or someone on it. When I learnt the existence of microscopic organisms, I attributed amoeba, protoplasm, etc flying about me. Little did I then know about what Dr. Seuss wrote.  So the movie plot in a single sentence is – Horton the Elephant struggles to protect a microscopic community (called Whos) from his neighbors who refuse to believe it exists.

One doesn’t realize what all exists in a place or for that matter about a thing, till one gets to experience it or know about it in greater detail. It was true even in my case, until I visited Harvard and MIT campuses. The mere fact of visiting those campuses was awe-inspiring and overwhelming; saddened me to a great extent too. Fortunately, I got an opportunity to enroll myself in a course that I wanted to explore for a long time, through the Harvard Extension School. Due to a number of reasons that I thought would help me build a new career, I took up a course in Organizational Behavior.

My class constituted of students from various nationalities spread across the world. The primary set was Americans, but the class had a very good representation from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. The sheer diversity amazed me. This was the first time that I was studying with such a varied set. Coming to the course material and the way it was handled, it was nothing like the way in which the Indian Education System works. One has to think and apply and express. One doesn’t have to by-heart theories, instead apply them and internalize. I felt that I have probably wasted a lot of my years studying subjects in which I could have excelled, had the teaching methodology been different and freedom of thought and application was possible. All in all a very enriching experience and the course duration simply flew past me. It made me feel very good, as I felt that I did a course that I wanted to do and because it mattered to me and not simply because it was part of the course to achieve some degree. It was true knowledge.

A lot has been said about the Indian Higher Education System and I would like to add my tuppence to it. I feel that young adults aged 16-17 years cannot possibly decide as to what subjects they should take and what they should specialize in. The four year undergraduate degree (outside India), gives an opportunity to the student to test and try various subjects, as varied from Quantum Physics to Psychology and then decide as to what one wants to finally specialize in the Master’s course. Most of the people whom I meet here in India, say they did their engineering because they were never clear about options then and went with the flow. In fact, four out of five Indians in my class at Harvard were engineers. This system of education should change and it is enough of British Raj we have clung on to, its time we moved with the times.

So, I knew about the speck and was lucky to have experienced the workings of that world. Someday, I hope that it would be an obvious offering in our country too.

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