Important lessons from 3 Idiots

KATHMANDU: Each person is endowed with at least one talent or intelligence. His interest and aptitude are totally based on it. If a person is helped to recognise and develop his talent, he will excel in life. This is the main theme of the much talked about Hindi film 3 Idiots. The film makes us think aloud.

In evaluating the performance of a student, academic excellence is given very high importance. By and large the intelligence of a student is measured with the marks he scores in the test. This trend is followed in admission to schools and colleges. This is followed even more strictly in professional colleges and for placement. Scoring high marks in the test does not necessarily mean high intelligence. One having good memory power can memorise whole answers and score high marks. A good number of our students are not regular in attending their classes in the colleges, and they don’t need much time to prepare for the examinations either. They buy the so-called ‘guess papers’ and mug up the answers without understanding them. They regurgitate the information in the answer sheet and score high marks. Silencer in 3 Idiots is an example of such students. One cannot blame the students for it. In fact it shows they are smart. The system asks for high marks and they score high marks within a short period of time.

The fault lies in the tools of evaluation in our education system. It doesn’t measure the intelligence of a student. They rather glorify the short-term memory of a student. Memory is good but memorisation of answers is not good. Our evaluation system does not aim at bringing out the critical thinking and creativity of students.

The innate desire to follow parents’ dream is one of the perennial problems. Parents invest everything they have on their children’s education. Farhan’s father in the film represents the parents who go to such an extent that they even decide what career their children should choose. Without realising that their children have their own dreams, they pressure their children so much that their dreams turn into nightmares. We often come across students at crossroads of their parents’ dream and their own dream. They are confused which one to take. Some children easily give in to the parental pressure, but some who won’t give in easily get frustrated, depressed and become rebellious. They start hating school. A few who cannot cope with the pressure go to the extent of committing suicide like Lobo in the film.

The film makes us understand that each child has a dream. When a child talks to us about his dream, let us not turn up our noses at him. Let us listen to him and help him to discover his potential within himself. Let us trust him, and once we trust him, we can see his potential. Let him follow his dream. Let him live his life not his parents’ life. While pursuing it he will stumble often and make mistakes but finally he will triumph. Henry Miller once said, “One thing is them telling you Notre-Dame is fantastic, you’ve got to see it and you go to Notre-Dame and yes it is fantastic but you observe that you went there at the behest of others. However, if you’d turned a corner and found yourself staring at Notre-Dame, you’d have it all because you’d discovered yourself.”

These days education has been very much commercialised and equated with high earning professional degrees. Thus everyone wants to earn a professional degree whether he has aptitude for it or not. The true aim of education is totally overlooked. Education is to help us solve problems in life. The purpose of education is to bring about changes in society. Gandhi had said, “By education, I mean an all around drawing out of the best in child and man, in body, mind and spirit.” Education must awaken a man’s head, heart and hands. A person awakened in head, heart and hands will be a socially conscious man.

The 21st century is the age of Information and Technology. We need technology for development. However, we are biological, social, political, cultural and spiritual beings. Don’t we need to develop these aspects too? Have we ever thought of what kind of society, values, culture, and tradition we are handing over to the next generation? We need doctors, engineers and scientists. And we need agriculturists, farmers, artistes, painters, teachers and thinkers. The agriculturists and farmers sustain us. The artistes, painters, teachers and thinkers enrich our culture and transmit it to the future generation. It is they who give birth to a new culture. There is no doubt that some of us will be horrified to learn that our child wants to be a singer/painter/ writer, but let him follow his dream.

(Fr Amrit Rai, SJ is the Principal of St Xavier’s Godavari School)