The single greatest thing about humanity is its capacity to learn, introspect, and utilise that learning.
Given that our being revolves around our abilities to enhance ourselves in the intellectual, physical, and emotional realms through which we survive, education is crucial.
Survival, from an evolutionary perspective, demands adaptation, and fortunately, intellectual and emotional soundness have lead a groundbreaking revolution that has dethroned physical strength from the kingdom of more desirable qualities.
It’s no longer a battle of strength, it’s a battle of wits, and one must be sure to catch that bus between Road Please-Respect-Me and Road Good-To Be-Progressive, if their end journey is to be prosperous in an interconnected world. This is the understanding we have to incorporate into our education system.
We must understand that this globalised world provides opportunities for all its people, the degree of which can remain up for debate, but it is in our best interests to act when the circumstance presents itself.
We are no longer merely Bangladeshis, but we are responsible Bangladeshis with a duty towards our own country, and also, the world.
That is the essence of humanity, and an education that does not emphasise this value is no real education at all.
Therefore, textbooks that facilitate the suffusion of false narratives that imply that the Rohingya population are “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,” reinforcing Myanmar’s lies, teach our children nothing about empathy -- the single most important factor in being literate and educated.
Neighbourhood of nobodies
Thinking back to classroom environments, it’s hard not to think of our education system as that irritating back-bencher who finds it acceptable to teach our eighth grade students to dress in a particular manner and be afraid of staying at home alone.
We all know that kid -- the one who doesn’t bother to dress well or recheck their homework, let alone. And let’s be honest, that kid failed the class.
We have the vile snot of educational stagnation coming out of our noses, and we have tripped on carelessly placed bricks of the patriarchy and have broken our glasses. That explains our general myopia.
Since we can’t see anything from the back of the room, we never learned the processes to think critically.
If nothing but an A+ or a Golden A will do for our parents, nothing less should be acceptable from our education system either
Ending the power gap
However, it doesn’t take an affinity for introspection to realise that our educational system needs reform, particularly by opening up the system to outside forces.
The perks of living in a globalised world includes being able to join various organisations such as the Round Square Committee, that allow many educational institutions to come and talk about their school and learn from one another.
This idea extends itself to even the classroom, in which students and teachers can both share constructive thoughts on the subject being taught in class. In fact, this practice exists and is called “The Harkness Method” -- a brilliant way to end the power gap between students and teachers and to bring about a general sense of contribution to the classroom environment.
Allowing such mutualistic techniques can be the much required tool we need in order to combat the problems we are facing. Creating a safe space for discourse will act as a check and balance that will shift dependency from the textbook to the mind of the student.
The student cannot merely act as a passive receptacle of information, but a breathing, thinking stake-holder who needs to be taught to deliberate the nuances of the information being provided.
When needed, the student should be empowered to challenge what is being taught.
Such an environment doesn’t exist yet in our education system, but the world waits for no one.
The world is disintegrating into chaos and now is not the time to fall behind. So, let’s face it, if nothing but an A+ or a Golden A will do for our parents, nothing less should be acceptable from our education system either.
Here’s to our educational institutions learning to teach us to keep up.
Arshiyan Quamrul Ahsan works at the Dhaka Tribune.