Tuesday, July 04, 2006

dizzying, dazzling nocturnal lights : part 2

A girl wanted to write a 500 word essay about India. Her teacher suggested she narrow it down to her hometown. She couldn't write it in time because she wasn't able to think of anything to write. The teacher was stumped. He told her, "Narrow it down to the a main street of your town." The girl came back in real distress the next time;she still couldn't think of anything to say, and couldn't understand why, if she couldn't think of anything about all of her hometown, she should be able to think of something about just a main street in it.

The teacher was furious. "You're not looking," he said. "Narrow it down to the front of a building on a main street in the town. Start with the upper left brick."

Next class, the girl came in with a puzzled look and handed over a 5000 word essay on the front of a building on a main street of her town. "I sat in a coffee shop across the street," she said, "and started writing about the 1st brick, and the 2nd brick, and then by the 3rd it all started . . . it all started to come and I just couldn't stop. I don't understand."

The teacher understood it the way it was: she was blocked because she was trying to repeat, in her writing, things she had already heard. She couldn't think of anything about the town because she couldnt recall anything she had heard worth repeating.

The narrowing down to one brick destroyed the blockage because it was so obvious she had to do some original and direct seeing.

The teacher got a fillip. Next class, he asked everyone to write about the back of his thumb. Everyone gave him funny looks but they did it, and there wasn't a single complaint about 'nothing to say'. In yet another class he changed the subject to a coin, and then to only one side of a coin.

What the students wrote, even though seemingly trivial, was nevertheless their own thing, not a mimicking of someone else's. He concluded: imitation had to be broken before real learning, or teaching, could begin. Little chidren didn't have it. It seemed to come later on, possibly as a result of school itself.

That sounded right. Schools teach you to imitate. If you don't imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. In college it's more sophisticated; you're supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince him you aren't imitating.

Students were completely conditioned to work for a grade rather than for the knowledge the grade was supposed to represent.

----- END OF STORY-----

3 comments:

PritS said...

Two things here:
1. Kids have a mind and heart which is totally pure. All the bad things come into the character as we grow up. But that does not happens automatically. We imbibe them after seeing them in our daily life. Kids can be most creative as they do not know any limitations as well as they are not influenced by any others work.
2. Narrowness of vision is something which we learn very quickly mostly to cope with the enormous pressure of life and work. See what you like, ignore the other. Wisdom then comes only from either a grand lightening (or awakening) or a massive shock. A stunt driver never wears a helmet in his early stage of life, only after he sees a fatal accident he starts wearing helmet. And the awakening can be from anything. the teacher you mentioned is one such source.

shantanu said...

doood...u r plagiarising directly from zen and the art...

satyajit said...

hehe..read the next part..i've paid my royalty:)