By Rishab Rao
I had just left a beautiful school in Kodaikanal, almost on a whim, without being able to articulate why I didn't like it. I was probably 10 years old at the time, and I remember quite vividly sitting in an adorable little hut with my father, a notebook propped on his lap as we adventured through the mysteries of maths together. The experience of laughing and learning during those days in that hut, triggered my interest in Education over the subsequent years. My learning in general and my understanding of Education, I felt, summed up perfectly in the phrase - “Not another brick in the wall”.
I instinctively loved this song the moment I heard it as a kid, but I am constantly reflecting to understand its true meaning. As I thought, I had an eye-opening question - What’s wrong with being a brick in the wall?
I went to my father with this question, and after much thought, deliberation, discussion, and debate we ideated two points that we thought answered that question.
1. Before there was a brick, it was a lump of clay with the potential to be a sculptural masterpiece, a ceramic marvel, or one of a million different unique expressions. Once that brick is set in the wall, it stands with no distinction alongside and amongst a million other bricks, which make up the wall. Becoming a brick, and being a part of the wall isn't necessarily a choice of the lump of clay, rather it is programmed to believe that being a part of the wall is its destiny. What is it, if not a suspension of free will? Isn’t that too much of a price to pay, and for what?
2. All bricks look the same, irrespective of the diversity of thought, spirit, dreams, passions and aspirations, which they hold as the impressionable lumps of clay. Education has become a process of killing the diversity and moulding them into standard forms for a standard function. In a space of limited opportunities, when aspirations, and passions are standardised, it leads to competition not cooperation. Nature thrives on cooperation that is a result of diversity, not from competition that is a result of standardisation. We are a part of nature, and we too are meant to be diverse. We are programmed to find and express our own unique self.
The education I would love for all of us to dream about and achieve is a model in which all of us participate in its design, therefore are responsible for its outcome… My dream is that the collective of people together isn't like a ‘brick wall’, but rather a where each individual is a unique thread contributing its own texture and colour unknowingly to form a beautifully designed tapestry.
Now I believe that we are at the crossroads: do we choose to be a brick wall or an exquisite tapestry? I invite you to join hands and together we shall choose to be the best versions of ourselves, thriving for excellence in whatever expresses each of us the best, both as an individual and as a contributor to the larger collective of life.