You must have heard some parent somewhere saying with dismay: “My child asks lots of questions”. It could even be variations like, “Why does he ask so many questions?”, “She always questions everything?” or, “I don’t have the answer to his questions”.
As you well know, asking questions is the natural state of a pure, young mind. The mind inside a young child has lots of queries that need to be answered. Since the very young don’t have personal resourcefulness yet to find answers for themselves, they are dependent on adults around them, especially their parents. This is how a young mind learns.
Asking questions is the first step towards learning. Father of the Nation and leader of the Indian freedom movement in British-ruled India, Mahatma Gandhi also favoured questions. He said: “Persistent questioning and healthy inquisitiveness are the first requisite for acquiring learning of any kind”.
Remember Malala Yousafzai who was the Co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2014? She is a young Pakistani activist for female education. She was shot by the Taliban, survived and lived to tell her story to the world that getting an education is extremely important.
Among the many other famous personalities who have stressed on the importance of true education and right education are: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela (South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician), Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore (Famous Indian Bengali poet who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature), Martin Luther King Jr (American Baptist minister & activist) and Albert Einstein (German-born theoretical physicist).
They always stated that education should not just be about literacy, learning how to read & write and knowing of facts. They favoured that the ultimate objective of education be the development of the critical mind that questions and analyses concepts and issues.
The Curious Mind
When you were a child who began to ask ‘Why’ about things around you, your mind was ready to receive inputs that would develop learning in you. Your education started at this point. When your young mind developed further, then you began to question deeper topics.
Education truly starts in a classroom. The teacher in a classroom is the best guide for the questioning and curious mind.
When the teacher answers the ‘Why’ of a student with conviction, the student feels satisfied. When the ‘Why’ is not given importance, the student attempts to find answers from some other source. The seeking mind will find the answers all right. In my February post, ‘Change your mental level’, I talked about how schools help to cultivate the young developing mind of a student.
However, there is also the point that if attempts are made not to address the persistent ‘Why’ of a questioning mind, then the student begins to question why the answer was not given.
Remember that time when you asked someone a question and you didn’t get an answer? Your immediate thought was: “Why didn’t he answer me?”
That seeking of answers to your questions is what education is. Just mere presentation of facts in a classroom and acceptance of those facts as final answers, is not education.
You get educated when your mind develops the ability to question ‘Why’. You don’t get educated when you are able to remember a number of facts and are able to debrief those facts well on an answer sheet in a class test or a school examination.
In life, your education is never complete. There are so many things that happen in your life, that you are forced to question ‘Why’.
Your search for answers to these questions will now lead you to the next level of your education.