What is really the supreme objective of your education? Training in the art of living with zest and grace and decency so that you may be equipped to work, in cooperation with others, for the cause of good life.
All the different arts and sciences, the classical and modern disciplines, the skills and the techniques which form part of your curriculum are really the means to an end and not an end in themselves-the end of leading the ‘good life’ and of making it possible for others to do so.
A holistic and multidisciplinary education would aim to develop all capacities of human beings – intellectual, aesthetic, social, emotional in an integrated way.
Assessment of educational approaches in undergraduate education that integrates humanities and arts with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have consistently showed positive learning outcomes, including increasing creativity and innovation, critical thinking, team work and better communication skills. Research is also improved and enhanced through holistic and multidisciplinary education approach.
This example will make it clear. A scholar enrolled for integrated PhD programme in the discipline of Education is interested to conduct a study on assessing the scientific temper of university students, for accomplishing his objectives he needs to construct a standardized scientific temper scale, he can take a co-guide from Department of Psychology and for validating the items of scientific temper scale he needs experts from the Department of Science.
If he wants to adapt the scale for Urdu speaking population / sample he needs to translate the items into Urdu for which he has to approach Department of Urdu. To translate inter-disciplinary research into reality we need to have a common Board of Research Studies; University has to give a serious thought to it.
University of Kashmir will have to focus on research and innovation by setting up start up incubation centers; technology development parks; innovative centers in frontier areas of research; industry-academic linkages; interdisciplinary research by integrating humanities, science and social science research.
For promoting collaborative research supervisors and co-supervisors should be from different departments. When research is made inter-disciplinary we will see mixed method approach (blend of qualitative and quantitative research methodology) being followed by research students in languages, arts and humanities.
One of the biggest hurdles in multidisciplinary education is that students are asked to submit migration certificate by the University and registration–related-discrepancies are communicated to the students at the time of submitting examination form, the result is significant number of students particularly out of state category (OSJ) drop from the course or become unmotivated to continue with the programme.
This results in a dip in gross enrollment ratio which goes against the principles of NEP 2020. If University has to grow it has to do away with the practice of demanding migration certificates and make registration related formalities easy and student friendly.
Imaginative and flexible curricular structures will enable creative combinations of disciplines for study and would offer multiple entry and exit points thus removing currently prevalent rigid boundaries and creating new possibilities for lifelong learning.
The multi-disciplinary curriculum will cover areas like community engagement and service, environmental education and value based education (NEP, page 36, 11.8).
As part of holistic development students will be provided an opportunity for internship with local industry, business for a longer exposure so that they may actively engage with practical side of their learning and as a bye product further improves their employability.
Even the great scientist or the artist or the scholar, who devotes himself to research or to some form of creative activity and who appears to be primarily concerned with knowledge or scholarship, is really, in the final analysis, serving the cause of man’s progress towards better things. He is serving or he should be serving.
It is necessary to add this alternative because one knows of many scientists and other men of thought who are as blind to the social consequences of their work as many businessmen, industrialists and political manipulators. This may be due to a number of factors.
It may be that their education has been so narrowly specialized or divided into compartments that they have been prevented from seeing the wood for the trees.
They know their little Chemistry, Physics, History, Literature, Engineering or Medicine but have failed to see its relationship to life, its meaning and purpose. It is the tragedy of our education that it fails to train students in the inter-relationships of different subjects and experiences and their bearing on life’s purpose.
Or, may be, education has failed to strengthen the social conscience and we are not concerned much about the impact of their activities on collective welfare.
It also happens, in many cases, that a technologist or professional worker starts with high ideals and social awareness but his whole environment, social and professional, is so saturated with wrong values and attitudes that he is unable to resist their downward pull and ends up in being caught in that demoralizing atmosphere.
As future citizens and possibly as scientists, artists and thinkers, this question is important for each one of us. The problem, as you will see, is both educational and social.
Education should be so oriented that it will give you a balanced and synoptic view of the world in which you live and inculcate you ideals, values and standard of efficiency which will aid in tackling successfully its difficult and growing problems.
May I confess to you that education all over the world, and particularly in our country, is not performing this function satisfactorily and a large majority of students go out of schools and colleges without their minds being lit up by the vitalizing flame of thought or their hearts being moved by a touch of compassion for the human race?
At the same time, if you are to maintain your proper moral and social balance in the world, it is necessary that the community should so organize its activities and social institutions that educated men and women are able to find proper self-expression in them and the values that they have acquired in universities are not perverted by the impact of anti-social or unethical forces.
Various measures are being adopted to improve the quality of education being provided for you but there are so many material and psychological difficulties that it will take a long time before really satisfying system of education can come into being.
One such measure is the introduction of the scheme of multidisciplinary education in the universities and colleges under which an attempt is made to break down the narrow specialism which divides humanities from Sciences, and Sciences from Social Studies, and fine Arts and Music from both.
At present the students have a little understanding of their field of specialization but are practically illiterate in other related fields often without any apology - without realizing that they have been deprived of anything of value.
They acquire a certain amount of information, large or small which does not usually pass into well assimilated knowledge and knowledge rarely puts on the mantle of wisdom which has been described as the ‘grace of knowledge’.
It would be worthwhile to elucidate these three words briefly, ‘Information’ connotes a collection of miscellaneous facts, data and statistics, which are not properly integrated or inter-related, which do not light up any problems and which are mainly held together by memory.
In the case of schools and colleges, information is usually acquired because it is necessary to pass examinations and it is painfully stored in the memory but not assimilated in the mind. Knowledge, on the other hand, is the result of the mind working actively on information, establishing inter-relationships and so fully mastering it that it can use it for achieving any desired results.
It is something that becomes a part of one’s mind and personality, a tool with the help of which one can find one’s way in life. Wisdom is more difficult to define. It is knowledge, applied with understanding to life. It is experience which has become mature and mellow.
It is a delicate instrument, as it were, which enables us to distinguish between right and wrong, to differentiate between what is spuriously attractive and what is of abiding value, what is mainly of selfish interest and what has social significance and, in every case, to show loyalty to the higher values, to choose the right ends and means, however powerful may be the appeal on the other side.
It also involves the capacity to take the long-range view and -discount the pressure of the immediate. So, wisdom becomes the quintessence of human experience, knowledge wedded to the right values.
I stress its importance here because there is a general tendency in our educational institutions to be concerned only with information or knowledge (to some extent) but to be indifferent to the supreme duty of letting the delicate plant of wisdom grow in the soil of personality.
Unless students themselves realize in which direction they are moving and understand the whole meaning and purpose of their education, it will remain lopsided and ineffective.
The object of this article is mainly to enlist the interest of the students in their own education in the deeper sense of the word. No activity, whether mechanical or mental, can acquire real appeal and significance unless its purpose is fully appreciated by the worker concerned.
It is a clear glimpse of the purpose and its relationship with one’s whole life and work that gives meaning to the manual or intellectual processes in which one may be occupied.
One of the chief reasons why education fails to catch the interest and imagination of youth is that they do not clearly see its bearing on their present life or their future and look upon it as an imposed grind which they must go through in order to pass certain examinations which are necessary to earn their living! This is hardly doing the right thing and certainly not doing it for the right reason.
Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.