The Pakistani Philosophy of Learning
As far as ‘good education’ goes, it is understood in Pakistani minds as assurance of a happy life with no problems as far as finding a job or paying the bills is concerned. Mostly this definition is a fact; that a person, who goes after a fine education makes an effort, devotes himself and submerges himself into a field of study, will be the perfect man. But yes, there is a catch, in the form of the nagging questions “What field is he studying in? Is it engineering? Is she becoming a doctor? Where can he get a job abroad for this?
Now I have great respect for my elders, and this is no protest against them, nor is this some outcry of students who want to fulfill their dreams. I am not trying to be biased, merely consider this as an observation. The main good facts of Pakistan when we see its educational standards is that having a command over the English language, it’s the 9th Largest English Speaking Nation in the world and the 3rd largest in Asia. On top of that, Pakistan produces about 445,000 university graduates and 10,000 computer science graduates per year. Despite these statistics, Pakistan still has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world.
Pakistani students, in the eyes of the foreign world, are the best students.
The information above does give a sense of pride but today we worry not about school or college education, but we worry about moral education.
Ask yourself this “when I go to college what do I learn from my books, lecture or my teacher? When my parents tell me to work and study hard is it just to earn money or get a good proposal? How will the subjects I study really help me, do I know what others learn around me, should I respect them?”
The questions above are asked with no intention to make education look bad but to invoke thoughts as to how much do we actually perceive and care about our work and study along with the work and study of others. In Pakistan, due to living conditions, the children are told from the beginning to work hard to stand on their feet, to earn for themselves so that they may have easier lives , because the government can provide only a little support financially. The child first joins his father and learns of the importance of education, then from school, but it is not until he reaches a mature age in high school or college that he truly understands what he has been told for so long. Now he is ready to give it his all… but where should the inspiration come from? From fear of failure? From dreams and desires? Or from the fear that he will have no respect in society? For money?
I feel that few will disagree when one says that we as a nation lack morals ,dignity ,love ,respect ,faith and trust among ourselves. With this kind of a social disorder, how can we think of being what our founding forefathers were? A quote by Aristotle would be fitting for this case, that ”Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”
Mostly people work for money and in Pakistan money is something everyone needs or wants so much that the people sell their morals and souls for it. Many of you probably are thinking then what should we work for if not for money or respect? To you I give an example of the doctors who went on protest not so long ago, leaving their hospitals while patients were left with no care. At that time many citizens who respected doctors were having a cursing marathon, although because of them doctors are not at all bad and nor is the medical field wasteful but it was shamed by the tongues of the nation then.
Another strange aspect I have seen is being selective with learning in the sense that some people do not find learning English or more specifically having a degree in English as being important at all, but when our celebrities have difficulty in speaking English we feel ashamed. No parent wants their son to get too involved in sports because they fear it might affect his grades but when Pakistan wins no Olympic medal, we again lower our heads…even when we that there is a lot of money in sports we consider that kind of job as unbecoming. We tend not take media studies because we see such subjects as bold but with the kind who rule our local channels we rather not watch.
Why do all of these flaws exist among us the basic reason is by what I believe lack of respect for all fields of study. Many times have I seen science students ridicule business students with taunts that they are studying harder subjects and can study business any time. But the chances are slim they always pick a field of science afterwards. Another blow to the heart is that for students of fields other than science the ability to study other subjects is narrow. My father told me once that when he went to America he asked a teacher there that how can I become a doctor when I have not studied medical subjects to qualify for it. The teacher replied that they would sign him up for a three month course first in which he would learn all the basics then just like everyone else in the class he would be on the road to becoming a doctor. My father never did want to become a doctor at that time but he was very inspired that day. Why can we not do the same?
I decided to write this article is because of a little fight I had with a friend on the subjects I was applying for my A-levels, my friend somehow thought that the subjects had no connection among themselves and claimed that the only way I could make use of them was to get a master’s degree in them and start teaching in schools. I for one had put in great effort in choosing my subjects and gained enough information of the subjects to understand them, I did not understand where my friend came up with this conclusion and when I offered to explain how literature and psychology link up, my friend refused to listen. To some point I understand where the indifference comes from and do not blame her but an open mind is always good.
Here let me quote Alwin Toffler “The illiterate of the 21 century will not be those who cannot read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”
I have to admit that subjects like psychology have a low respect line in Pakistan but it is in the western world who understands how it helps people every kind of study helps people. Even the fine arts play an important role in the life of the average man. Believing that the world will survive on science is absurd because if that were true there would have been no religion.
I hope the message I was trying to convey has reached you. Thank you for your time.