Intentions create energy and energy is what drives the world around. A horrendous task done with the most positive intentions is much better than a great job done with the wrong intentions. Our intentions are often what guide us to our goals. When I talk about the education policies of our country, it raises a concern, whether the intentions of our education system are right or not. Do we really want all our children to succeed? Are our policies really meant to help each child with different calibre in the same way? Do we give equal weightage to all types of skills that children may possess or is it only the literary skills that gain maximum weightage? What do we really want to achieve with our policies – to bring out some students who are extra-ordinary or to make every child an achiever?
The role of intentions is brought out beautifully in this little excerpt from Hindu mythology. Maharishi Valmiki wrote the Ramayana- India’s most well know epic. While nearing the end of the epic, Narad (genrally considered a protagonist who through the story delivers a message) paid Valmiki a visit. Valmiki had just finished writing the Ramayana and on seeing Narad was excited and wanted Narad to read his work of literature. The sage obliged. It didn’t take Narad long to read the epic but on completion he had no reaction and that disappointed Valmiki who was expecting a joyous reaction. On being asked about what Narad thought about the epic , Narad replied that he knew someone who had written the same story even better. This shocked Valmiki and he demanded to know who it was. ‘The story has been written by Hanuman’ is what Narad responded.
Valmiki then wanted to meet Hanuman and both of them proceeded to meet him. Hanuman was delighted to meet the two of them. Before Hanuman could request them to sit down Valmiki blurted, “I hear that you have written the Ramayan and I would like to read it”. In Indian tradition a guest is always considered next to god. (‘Atiti devo Bhavo’) and even though Hanuman was surprised by the request he happily obliged and gave Valmiki the entire epic to read.
The entire experience of reading the epic was emotional for Valmiki. After finishing Hanuman’s version of Ramayana, Valmiki had tears in his eyes. He was also very disappointed and feared that after reading Hanuman’s version, no one would read his version of the story. On seeing his sad expression Hanuman did not want to make any guest unhappy, he tore his version of the Ramayana and stated that henceforth there would be no two versions of the Ramyana and everyone would only read Valimiki’s Ramayan.
This amazed Narad who had been a silent spectator till now. He couldn’t figure out what was so different or special about the same story? He then asked Hanuman “ Do tell me what is so special about your story and why is the same story written by Valmiki different from yours?
Hanuman folded his hand and with all humility stated “While Valmiki was writing the epic he had one thing in mind, which is that everyone should remember him- the writer- after reading the epic. While I was writing the same epic I had only one thought in mind and that is whoever reads this epic should remember Ram.’
Whatever the intention so shall be the fruit. If the framers of our curriculum understand that the children of our world require an inclusive and free curriculum they will allow for flexibility and innovation in education to happen. They will cater to each child’s needs and will build a curriculum that will nurture the potential of each child. This will result in happier, confident skilled students ready for the future and aware of their own potential and growth.
If their intention is to make students sit for board exams, follow a standardized rigid curriculum- a shoe fit all- that they believe is the best and insist on teaching it in a particular way then they will mediocritize every child who will not be working on his/her potential but at the average level that is expected from everyone. The student will hence be the consumer. We need the student to move away from being a consumer to being a creator. And all this depends upon the intention of our country’s statutory curriculum designers.