Education is the most important weapon, which can be used to change the world — Profound words said by Nelson Mandela. Such words and quotes echoed in my mind when I visited a college last week. I was invited as a guest speaker on a talk show on motivation. It was nostalgic to enter a college after decades. I was reminiscing the brick walls of my college in Delhi.
I am a firm believer in the power and worth of education. It is a treasure no one can steal from you. There is no age to stop learning. We may finish school and college and even post graduate courses, but learning is a life-long process.
It is necessary to understand the difference between knowledge and education, education is something that we learn from our schools, colleges, or any other teaching centre, where as knowledge can be learned throughout life. Our great grand parents and their parents may or may not have gone to school or college, but were full of knowledge. We can earn knowledge from various ways like learning, observing, experiencing and many more. Most of the time knowledge is earned by a person through his own life experiences. I did my school, college, law college and many courses online, but my biggest learning came from my illness and the period after that. I learnt the power of observation, compassion, empathy and the miracle of gratitude.
Elderly are always treated as wise people even though they may not have a degree and the reason for that is the experience and knowledge they have gathered throughout their life. Our parents will have so much to share about different things which they used to see in a different way as compared to us. In earlier days people used to discuss various topics when they had time in the evening after their work, they used to have knowledge of almost everything like work, health, medicine, relationships and life in general. The sharing of knowledge and such conversations kept the family together. Medicine was taken from a doctor only when the home remedies were not adequate, such was the knowledge of illness and remedies.
Today the sitting together and discussing life and its issues is replaced by social media. Social media can also be a way to learn new things if used in a proper way. You may know something good/useful, share that in social media and make everyone aware of that. In Covid times, we have shared herbal remedies, breathing techniques, yoga asanas and recipes, thanks to social media.
What happens when you know something that your classmate/colleague doesn’t know? You have a little more power. So basically, knowledge breeds power. Today education is power because it gives people knowledge.
The internet has opened a door to different learning opportunities that go beyond the traditional classroom. It also gives the chance for learning beyond the traditional route. But what brought online education to the forefront was the pandemic. I personally did many courses online before the pandemic struck us, simply because of the value they added to what I know.
I remember the hard timetables, the tight schedules, the punishment for being late for a class, the long hours, the dredge of a commute. Education was surely hard earned. So, the luxury of being taught at your own pace, time and location is irresistible for me. The choice of subjects is endless, you can learn something about a subject you have no clue about. Or you can pick a subject in your own line of work to further enhance what you know.
I was asked this question during the interview that I went for last week, if I believed in online education. My reaction was what’s the flip side? During the pandemic, we realised that online was the only way to be. Forget about the Covid days, you have the convenience of learning as and when it fits in your daily schedule. I would say, “learn as you go”. Just like a sandwich or a coffee on the go.
The dictionary definition of education is” the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university”. But education is much more than that. It is a process of continuous learning which can be acquired anywhere at any time and any age.
Education helps turn weakness into strength. Education gives us the confidence to stand for ourselves. We can enhance our own lives and the life of the society that we live in. I heard one interesting talk of a leading neurologist; she said the brains is made of muscles. Use it or lose it. So, let’s not just concentrate on our abs, lets use our brain cells too.
Ask the hungry about the value of food, the thirsty about the wonder of water. Ask the deprived about what importance of education. Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, sums it up perfectly “books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”
Shilpa Bhasin Mehra is a legal consultant based in Dubai and the founder of SBM Consultancy (formerly Legal Connect).
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