It has been a long time that I have not met Lucy; thanks to COVID19. However, as the situation in many countries is improving, they are relaxing the control measures. This allowed me once again to have tea with Lucy. Like everybody, Lucy also had been in the house, so there were less updates to share other than the usual topic of the lockdown. This, however was not that bad, as it gave rise to a topic that pushed me to finally write this article, which had been waiting for long time in my draft list. Lucy started the topic of education and how COVID19 is changing the field of education to become more digital, remote and on-demand. Well, the change has been happening for a long time. The difference is that COVID19 increased the speed of adoption of digital platforms to thousand fold. I know personally internet based courses since year 2000. Of course, those were mostly text based and less interactive and immersive than what is available on various online education platforms today. But, even then there were people who did comparison studies between the digital and legacy methods of teaching. I personally knew a guy who did research on this in Sweden. Their study showed that digital methods were more effective than traditional methods and could engage students more. Added benefit was that students were not judged or treated differently by the digital tutor.
This debate, with time, is slowly being taken over by digital platforms. Who will win at the end, I don’t know. But, that is not the main topic for which I sat down on my computer today. This talk with Lucy about education reminded me of this interesting script. I would suggest that you watch the below video, before continuing reading. Here the education in consideration is not the direct education per say. I am interesting in this meta education, which is happening in informal way and having its effect on the formal education. If the system favours science or mathematics than humanities, it only changes what people would be doing for work later on. However, meta-education as depicted by this video has way more far reaching impact on the population.
This video, in my opinion, is spot on. I would not go onto repeat what the video had already said. The writer has only shown the perspective of education. The similar can be observed in many other circles of life today. Rather than taking the lens of equality, respect and fairness, I would like to like to look at it from the perspective of weakness and feeling of specialness. Weakness probably does not need explanation, but I would like to clarify specialness further. Specialness the way I would use is a combination of ego and greed. The percentage of each vary from person to person and is dependent on the context.
One can argue that equality and fairness is generally a debate by the weaker side. Because, one is not good in debate, (s)he will find any reason, any thread to complain against it. It can vary from economic, politics, culture, country or any other way of categorization that exists. While the stronger side might be aware of these differences, but it is not the side to use that point to say, because I had some advantage (even valid), so I gave up some benefits. Keep in mind that this also follows the law of relativity. I do not think that there is any person in the world, who is on top in every dimension. E.g. no one pictures Albert Einstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a single physical body. I am not sure, if there is one but usually gymnasts are not sumo wrestlers. This is one side of relativity cutting through dimensions. People usually are somewhere in between the range of same dimension as well. There is only one richest man in the world (Keeping economy in mind). Common or may be the easier topic to consider, I believe, is wealth. You can often meet people in various situations talking about the unfairness on this dimension. It is always a person with little bit less than few others, who would complain about the relative richer. The relatively poor is the one who would ask for more equal or fare salaries/income. The comments may vary from pure economic comparison to privileges, unfair advantages or even lack of empathy for others or just how greedy the rich are. Other than economics, we can see already how various dimensions are interlinked with each other.
Once a person told me how he thinks that rich people waste money to show off or just for statues. The same can be used to help others. He agreed that he spends too, but he has control and his expenses are justified. I believe most of such gossip when starts has same tone and color. I am justified, but the rich are not. In the above case, the justified person owned a Porsche, as he loves to drive, has a house in an expensive city and also had a holiday house where he goes to spend relaxing time with his family. He did not mentioned once how or what he does for others who are on the lower side than him on the financial axis. Same is valid for most of the cases. I say “most” as I am not sure what discussion happens when some tribal people meet on a relaxing evening. Maybe they have similar discussion but with different economic measures.
One may say that people do donate money or their time to help others. This may sound like evaluation on the financial front. But, here actually the evaluation is on another dimension. Here evaluation moves the dimension of being generous. People start to evaluate themselves who is more generous than the other. Interestingly the people, who were rolling equality and fairness to have higher wages for themselves or lower for others, the same would now use equity methods to evaluate how their 10 dollars are worth someone’s millions in donation. Pride also jumps in to have others on check. The girl in the video uses this when she remarks, “so you think you are so great with math!” Similarly, one would use to say, so if you donated some 1000 dollars or went to help some refugees, you are someone special. If you think so, well I also went last year in protest against windmills organized by some organization that I don’t remember now!
There is another aspect about specialness. That is boundaries and limits of conversations, also tagged as safe spaces. People use the facilitates available in every weird way to protect that specialness. One of that is about asking questions or making statements. The girl(in the video) at another time makes a simple yet powerful statement, “We don’t ask questions, as questions are offensive”. Today it is easier to find people who would keep the notion that they are liberal (as this is popular now) and they are open to diversity. However, if you ask a question ( even to just understand their perspective better), they may tell you, “I don’t like that style of talk! It’s like you are interrogating me.” Or it may be, “You think of me as a child”. On the other side, if you just make your statement, it leads to different kind of response. “You don’t tell what to think or believe” or “Don’t talk to me, if you have to negate my statement. As that means you are a closed person with value only for your own views”.
Another change which has happened already and seems to continue to make everyone feel special simply because one is born. Starts with human rights mission, which simply means because you are born, so you are special has lots of rights independent of what you do or do not do. I have also heard that people are fighting to add “having a house” as basic human right. The topic of human rights in itself can take few articles, but let me try to remain focused on today’s topic. The person grows up feeling so special it makes them fragile. This makes any interaction like walking with a stack of 100 crystal glasses arranged as house of cards on your head. Just try to imagine it for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine a stack of crystal glasses on your head. Now just try to make a step forward. If you are in good balanced state today, then add some wind to the scene. Once, I was in a class. The instructor after explaining, gave us an assignment. A classmate sitting next to me asked, how to do it. I did the assignment while explaining how to do it. He thanked me and class continued. All was fine, till the time came to do another assignment. This person now was suddenly asking me, “Why did you help me and did the assignment for me? Now because of you, I cannot do this assignment!” I was dumbfounded as to what just happened. People want to keep their fragile nest protected, while assuming it is not. I have written about helping others or not. That point is valid here. People feel ashamed, if they have to ask for help; they feel annoyed when others don’t help; they feel threatened if someone offers a help, so they reject it. This strangely connected network creates nested layers of guards that there is no path left to have any interaction. Only way, I think, is you be there and just follow whatever instructions comes to you. But be aware, that you still need to follow instructions in a way that you can understand the actual meaning what they had in mind and not what you heard or understood.
Let me take one more situation, which is “in demand” nowadays. That is about gender specifications. Traditionally, we have divided the world in 2 parts, namely male and female. This is how the language is developed, at least most of them. Is some places e.g. India, transgender has also been recognized. Their socially involvement is another topic, but here the point is that this was part of the language and culture. Today the term is LGBTQ. I am not sure, if there is another variation added to the acronym recently. It has taken the similar flavour as other topics we discussed around modern meta-education and its impact. There is a community struggle and that I believe is similar to many other struggles in the world in various perspectives. However, this is making the impact in a similar way that people are getting sensitive to the level that any hint can be taken as matter of identity crisis. Relating to the point of birth rights made above, this also takes the same effect. The situation depicted very well by the Asian guy in the video. This is one thing to have a capability and being discriminated, but it is another to make it a right by birth. I was making a poster and wrote that this sport is for both girls and boys, men and women and they can play together in same team unlike some other team sports. Someone saw the sample and made a point that I should not write this as it may come across against LGBTQ community. I was once again surprised by the level of sensitivity and fragility in people. I am not sure, if that comes from some kind of fear or a genuine concern. I believe it to be the first rather than second. As usually such statements are made without any suggestion. I mean this is how the sport exist. There are nor formations of LGBTQ teams or any other combinations of those “genders” to use the term loosely. I mean even language has only 3 variations “he, she and it”. I am not aware if there is some framework of language in process to cover this situation appropriately. Bathrooms at all public facilities are tagged as Men or Women. LGBTQ community selects the one appropriate to their needs (I believe so). Or is there any discussion of having special LGBTQ bathrooms or for that matter each separate? I believe till the time new language framework is available I have to continue to use men and women or in general male and female.
Struggle is part of life and at some level that is what makes the life a life. However, that struggle does not need to take extremes form as explored here. The digital connectivity is making devoiding people of human contact. Today more than ever kids live in isolation and they do not get the chance to develop those interpersonal skills at the early age. The new parenting style adds on to it. Parents get involved in every aspect of child’s movement. Any fight among kids is interrupted or stopped by parents even before it starts. This hinders child development on how to handle such situation, how to negotiate one’s place and how to understand one’s position in the current social group. Other than that it makes children believe that they will be someone to take care of them in every small situation. This later in translates into, “you cannot ask me a question” or nobody tells me what to do”. Imagine this kid grownup and going to work somewhere. Kids miss to learn conflict handling at the early stage, when the matters are less critical and situations are less complex. Unfortunately, this means that later on they fail on any such situation, thus either running away from every small conflict or stamping their foot for their birth rights.
I hope this does not become everyday situation, as that would make any discussion impossible. You will get the idea how a discussion would like, if every word needs to be explained as the “straight, white, cisgender” guy does when warning the “brown” guy about looking for than longer than 10 seconds. I rather hope that somehow all together the environment changes and not just education to make people strong and not to cover them in glass boxes that needs to be handled by care all the time and needs a birth right life time protection guarantee from the whole the world. I mean I have seen people simply because I was smiling! Nothing I said, nothing I did, no abuse, no contradictions, no arrogance. A simple innocent smile can break this glass shelter. I hope some work happens on the statements made by Van Jones when asked about safe spaces on university campuses.
It is strange that people can laugh when someone falls down on a slippery ground, but one cannot even smile because one realized that in the situation this is the only response one I have. The strange thing is the same people would love to host Budai (laughing buddha) in their rooms. Maybe this was Budai’s realization that only appropriate response in every situation is to just laugh. If this was his realization 1000 years ago, what would he do if happened today?
What do you think about safe spaces not just on universities or colleges, but also in everyday life? How much you think is the contribution of modern education in developing that mindset? Share your views.
Keep smiling Love
Mulla Nasrudin was watching the youngsters put on their horse show. He said to a bystander, “It’s terrible the way they dress today. Just look at that young boy with the cigarette, sloppy haircut, and tight breeches.” “That is not a boy,” said the other. “It’s a girl and she’s my daughter.” “Oh, excuse me, Sir,” said the Mulla. “I meant no offence. I didn’t know you were her father.” “I AM NOT,” said the other. “I AM HER MOTHER.”