Teach to contribute

11 Mar

It is sometimes amazing to think how our education system is skewed towards mediocrity. And when you look around it is so tragic to find we as people are so oblivious to this glaring fact.

This mediocrity which gets ingrained in our way of thinking from the cradle then cascades and permeates every facet of our life – work, thinking, living.

The question is where does this mediocrity stem from?

The mediocrity stems from the role educators give to the reason for education. The primary stress any institution delves on is “success”. We are trained to succeed.

And how do you succeed?

Simple, beat the average.

It doesn’t matter whether you beat the mean by 0.1 or by 49.9 as long as you are above the average you succeed.

It regresses our mental approach to survival and not evolution.

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will die. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

If you have attended any business school this is the first adage you hear and are taught.

This is the current spectrum.

Imagine another spectrum where the focus is not on succeeding but on contributing.


It doesn’t matter which field you choose, what subject you study, what profession you pick, a child is taught to contribute.

Envisage a scenario where the teacher tells his class your chosen field today stands here, can you push it further? Improve not manage.

It no longer is about the capability of your peers, it is challenge to you?


Your potential, your capability, your courage, your mind, your body.

This way of education is with a purpose and can start at every level.

Anything you are taught are small building blocks leading towards a bigger picture.

You are not taught to remember 1, 2, 3 but the meaning of numbers.


The only field where this approach is applied is sports. You have landmarks, benchmarks, bars which athletes, sportsperson are constantly thriving to beat and better. The coaches remind you constantly about these goals, these legends. These legends are used as tools of inspiration for child as well as a professional sportsperson.

If it can happen in sports why won’t the same tool be applicable in education?


3 Responses to “Teach to contribute”

  1. Red Venkat March 12, 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    All organic phenomena follow the Bell Curve, including human endeavor….the small extremes stretch the boundaries, the large bulks live within the boundaries.

    Its not for everyone to “contribute”, the average mass can at best “manage”.

    Not everyone can be the one who invents the steam engine, some are meant to shovel coal to keep the engine running….

    Both are needed.

  2. Gauri Gharpure March 14, 2008 at 9:07 pm #

    beautiful post… one point cud be added up in the list: love..

    how many of us do actually get teachers who
    a) love the subjects they teach and are into teaching for the love of teaching and not the govt. perks

    and b) teachers who actually manage to love and respect their students- the weak and smart alike- in their own special ways…

    Considering this somewhat on Red Venkat’s lines, not everyone can be a good teacher and it wud do us good if we kick out those bastards in the education system who linger there out of laziness and without any moral or intellectual goals…

  3. Sue April 6, 2008 at 12:32 am #

    I am agreeing vehemently with you. For someone who has seen both the Indian n Canadian system of education… I can say (Controversially, of course) that canadians are somehow more in touch with the line of thought you speak about than us here with our education systems.

    they believe in constantly beating you own goals, in imagination beyond theory, in application other than the obvious, in individual power over the group average and I wish it would seep into our system here…asap.

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