19 June 2010

Ivan Illich or John Holt: It doesn't matter anymore.

This is written for those who think they understand, actually understand, and simply don't know. Some of you might never take a chance at reading this, but I don't stand to lose anything but your understanding. That's fine with me. 

Dear ..............,

On Monday morning, two days from now, I have to go to college. In the pit of my stomach the noises of scary creatures have started. No need to worry, it could just be hunger for I haven't eaten yet. After a bit of work on this random Saturday, I lay down on the floor and stared at lotus on my ceiling. I breathed, I thought, I pondered and questioned. 

Why am I here? What do I want to do?

Three years back, I did not want to go to college. I did not know what else I wanted to do. In March 2010, I dropped out of college in my last two months of undergraduate education, right before my examinations. When I decided to adjust to college for two whole years, what could have happened to me? 

I had comments calling me lazy, irresponsible, ungrateful, scattered, and stupid. Like all mistakes done and gone, I had my own set of excuses - teachers, attendance, etc. 

This letter is not an excuse, but an insight into what went on in my mind in the last few months of college life. After reading it, you can call it some name and categorize according to your judgement.

I love studying. I love to know, to learn, to read, to write, to analyse, and to even write examinations. This is an ability that I am extremely proud of. I wanted to study History, because I saw it as my base for any other social science, art, literature, or philosophy. Anything, I wanted to learn about had a history and so I chose that as my Undergraduate Major. 

In my first year of college, I maintained notebooks, timetables, and charts about my subjects. I bought books, I read them, analyzed them and wrote papers for personal use. I was enjoying my bout of self-studying. We were allowed to read in class and often had long library breaks. It wasn't crime to visit another class to listen to another lecture. It wasn't a crime to sit under the trees and share readings or thoughts. The point was not necessarily to score high, be popular or wear IDs. 

Second year, I was lost. My first semester that year was remarkable in the same flow and my skills on studying History were improving. I decided to get involved in college culturals and had many lovely ideas. Nothing worked out. 

Third year, too many things had happened in my life outside college by the end of my fourth semester. I had lost my ability to study, because classes were dry lectures that most of the time had nothing to do with the subject. We had to listen and take notes, even though we might know what they are saying otherwise. The only focus of the teachers of making every student pass. The projects included 'Question and Answer sets', with questions as dry as 'What was the Cuban Missile Crisis?' or ten-page summaries of any topic we deem to choose from our scattered syllabus. I grew tired. I was learning NOTHING. I still don't know if this was all my fault. 

Probably, if I had just focused on studies for that one year or treated like just an examination to pass, I could have gotten out of this rut earlier. Instead, I escaped. I joined everything and did everything. I found my foot in theatre. I directed plays, brought together a lot of people, and lived with it. 

Was finding theatre a fault? I should have said no to those plays and distractions. I should have not worried about Chai Kadai or anything else I created. I should probably not search for avenues that I can actually learn from. Maybe the point is just that paper certificate. But, why should I waste three years for that in an institution interested about examinations and paper qualifications, but not actual studying or understanding of this world?

I am not saying I did not learn anything from this college. If I did not have any reason to escape, I might have never landed on Chai Kadai or theatre. I'll take it as an experience. 

My mom asked me, "You want to drop out? Do you think you are too smart for college?"

I want to tell her now, "I might not be smart for college life. But, I have completely lost my ability to study because of this college and I can't go on."

My parents chose to understand this in their own ways. They never accused me. They never told me I was completely out of my mind. But, they would rather I finish those exams and have a paper qualification. 

I wonder why? Why aren't individuals allowed to make their own mistakes after a while?

I am twenty-one and I can't understand this. 

I will go to college on Monday. 

I will try and figure this out. 

I will meet all those people whom I don't want to meet. 

I will study on my own finally. 

I will write all those exams I have missed.

I will beg those teachers who hate me. 

I will sit and write Q&As and ten-page summaries.

I will do this and more.

All for a paper.


p.s.: Guess no one is allowed to run away. If you have to beg to get something someone loves you wants, you have to beg. 


Susan Deborah said...

After reading the entire post, I don't know what to say. I think I understood but then how as I have never done anything against the norm.

I shouldn't be commenting at all.

But still I comment, as I cannot go without.

Joy always,

Anonymous said...

When I was 21 I was immortal and invincible and transcended the syllabus chemically.
Now I am a lifetime older and closer to death, and I know I know nothing of the infinite possibilities of life, just the road I traveled to get here, now.

Learn by doing, teach by being.

Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site www.blogger.com
Is this possible?

Samyuktha P.C. said...

@anonymous - How can I exchange blog links without know who you are? :) Nevertheless, I'll be glad to.