|'Another Brick in the Wall'|
Schools as theological seminaries
In more ways, Schools have started to resemble the functioning of an organized religion; faith masquerading as rules, priests as teachers, theological seminaries as classrooms and scriptures as text books. It is sacrilegious even to question the traditional norms of the school. For example, why should a child be made to chant cryptic verbal patterns (“prayer” in popular parlance) with metronomic precision in a totally obscure language like Sanskrit? Like the plastic bird popping out of wall clocks every hour to please its masters. Why do schools have to act as agents of faith lobbying for the verses in religious scriptures? Why should religion be the normative source to derive ‘values’ to be passed on to fledgling minds?
Schools in their quest to establish authority and in enforcing their highest virtue of ‘discipline’, manage to cull ‘critical thinking’ and ‘reasoning’-so vital to development of thought process. The result is the twofold production of a group of young minds resorting to sycophancy whenever they need to get things done and the other a group with unswerving submission to officialdom;like the dead vending machines in railway stations bearing the punches and abuses of its transient masters. The larger societal implications of this ugly disease need barely to be expounded further here.
Restraining Moral Imagination
This mode of functioning of schools has thus successfully managed to perpetrate a form of structural violence, over the years, on the very cultural fabric of our society. Tyrannising the thought process, at an early age, thus stifles the growth of moral imagination. Hence it naturally entails that a majority will no longer question the existing first order assumptions and beliefs. The result is the prevalence of a society with the equilibrium slanted heavily in favour of conventional thought and the will of the majority; with the majority self selecting itself to be the sole arbiter of ‘legitimate opinion’. The onus and the burden of establishing even the existence of an equilibrium in the huge spectrum of opinion thus lies in the hands of a minority; precisely the reason why we even need to expend time, when it should be a given, to argue that gays or lesbians have every right to be part of the society as the heterosexuals; also precisely the reason why our society hasn’t yet realized that selling women like cattle’s to men for money- under the garb of ‘dowry’- is nothing short of barbarism.
Tradition, in such a society, becomes so sacrosanct that rational thought and deductive reasoning are mortgaged for conventional thought and retrograde first order cultural assumptions. The majority, consciously unaware, thus work tirelessly towards a predefined common agenda- which is derived mostly from dubious sources like tradition, culture and religion- under the belief of serving the needs of the self. A fertile ground is hence laid out for fostering cultural prisoners- chained forever to the tyranny of prevailing popular opinion.
Sometime back a friend made a wry remark to me that- “it’s not always bad to be a conformist”; and by implication that, at times, it’s good to be a conformist. While conceding the merit in the remark, I believe, we need more heretics just to assert the presence of equilibrium in the long continuum of thought and opinion, let alone asserting the possibility of the presence of a legit opinion at the other end of the spectrum. And, I believe, there is no better breeding ground than schools for heretics to bloom. The time for structural reform in schools is ‘now’.