Necessary and Unnecessary Knowledge -Imran Shyikh
Today’s education creates tomorrow’s professionals. It is important to note that there are as many as 13000 professions all over the world by 2016. The number is always on the rise. A profession means any type of work which needs special training or a particular skill, often one which is respected because it involves a high level of education. The present job market provides 13000 types of jobs including teaching, engineering, pharmaceutical etc. Primarily these professions were merely words or vocabularies then they became concepts developed by academicians or experts in this field. Later these concepts turned into theories which explained many problems in that branch of knowledge. Down the history knowledge branched out in this way, creating newer and newer disciplines to study and jobs to do.
As today’s child becomes tomorrow’s professional so they need education to cater to the demands on the job market all over the world, be it marketing a product or producing cars and aeroplane. Now the question arises should academicians or schools include all the basic concepts in primary school or high schools? While getting literacy and numeracy in primary level should a kid learn the basic knowledge of all these professions so that they can choose one of them in future? It is the question of 12 graders to opt out one of the disciplines to specialize in. Choosing a subject or department for a honours course is done after college or intermediate level.
Education is said to be the backbone of a nation. It is unthinkable that without proper education and care for the children, the future of a nation may have run towards the prosperity. The scenario of child education system in Bangladesh is like an instrument of torture in most of the cases. The system has become severe burden for the little kids. It seems that the objective, standard and the process of child education is not clear in the system, especially in the private educational institutions. Students are often burdened with unnecessary books and the learning process is also problematic.
There is great deal of debate about the contents of the primary education system. Lots of things can be found to be unnecessary for the students from different aspects.
Beneficial and Non Beneficial Knowledge: an Islamic Perspective
Islam, as a complete code of life, has a deep rooted narrative regarding the compulsory nature of education for both man and women. The very first revelation of the holy scripture of Islam ‘Al Quran’ was started with the directive ‘read in the name of your lord who has created you’. The holy prophet of Islam Hazrat Muhammad (SM) said that acquiring knowledge is binding (farz) on every Muslim man and woman.
There is clear distinction between beneficial and non beneficial knowledge in Islam. Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbalee describes “the sign that one has beneficial knowledge is that it leads him to flee from the worldly life and its splendors, as well as from leadership, fame and praise. Also from the signs of beneficial knowledge is that one does not claim to have knowledge nor does he use it to act arrogantly towards anyone, nor does he describe anyone as being ignorant. How beautiful was the response of Imam Abu Hanifa when he was asked about ‘Alqamah and Aswad as to which of them was better. He replied saying: “By Allah, we are not qualified to even mention their names, so how can we choose between them?” It may be noted that Abdullah Ibne Maswood (R) was one of the teachers of Alqama and the latter taught Hammad Ibn Sulayman who was one of the teachers of Imam Abu Hanifa.
“An indicative sign of this non-beneficial knowledge is that it breeds haughtiness, pride and arrogance in the one who possesses it. And it causes him to seek after grandeur and elevation in the worldly life and to compete for that. It also leads one to pursue competing with the scholars, arguing with the foolish and turning the people’s attention his way.
It could be that some of the people, who possess these types of knowledge claim to know Allah, seek pleasure of Him and abstain from everything not part from that, however, their goal behind that is for nothing else but to gain a high place in certain people’s hearts, such as that of the rulers and their likes”.
Children are burdened
Children are often burdened with huge extra books including English and Bangla grammar or other books, in almost every city schools left them in severe back pain to carry those on the excuse of learning them something additional. But the huge backpack pressure can hamper the mental development of the children and create a fearful mentality towards the education.
According to the curriculum 2012, there will be no separate grammar book from Class II to Class IV and they won’t be memorized any grammatical definition and classification.
According to National Curricular and Textbook Board (NCTB) any extra books for students without permission of the NCTB are illegal. It is said that the educational institutions have connection with book publishers with high rate of commission. Prominent educationists opine that this is not wise to put the children under pressure in the name of broadening the knowledge base. Those who are doing this business are entering into contracts with the schools in exchange for big sums of commission. The school authorities take this opportunity. This is not benefiting any student, rather it does damage to the student.”
Some physicians of Dhaka Shishu Hospital have been reporting that children are coming to them with back pains, not being able to stand straight. Most of them complain that their schoolbags are too heavy.
High Court’s Direction
to enact laws
Recently, the High Court Division has directed the Government that no primary student carries in excess of 10 percent of his/her weight. The court also asked to enact the direction within six months. In a Public Interest Litigation writ petition, a bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Ashish Ranjan Das has issued the directives in a landmark verdict.
The court observed that forcing school children to carry heavy schoolbags is cruel for them since it may permanently injure their spines so early in life. The court also said such human rights violations of children could in no way be ignored and medical science doesn’t permit a school going child to carry bag pack in excess of 10 per cent of his or her own weight.
Learning should be the objective not teaching
Traditional education system emphasizes on teaching, not learning. It erroneously assumes that for every small amount of teaching, there is the same amount of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without its being taught to us. A child acquires such basic things as how to walk, talk, eat, and dress and so on without being taught these things. In most schools, memorization is thought to the best process for learning. Most of what is remembered is remembered only for a short time, but then is quickly forgotten.
Ways of Learning
There are many different ways of learning; teaching is only one of them. We learn a great deal on our own, in independent study or play. We learn a great deal interacting with others informally — sharing what we are learning with others and vice versa. We learn a great deal by doing, through trial and error. Long before there were schools as we know them, there was apprenticeship — learning how to do something by trying it under the guidance of one who knows how. For example, one can learn primary and basics of civil engineering and architecture by having to design and build one’s own house than by taking any number of courses on the subject. Of course with this knowledge s/he can’t construct a high rise.
There is no theory or concept in social science or humanities group which has no counter thesis or theories. Everything is debated here. Religious knowledge also belongs to this group, sparking debates among the insiders and outsiders of different religions. That’s why revelation on the prophets from the creator of the universe became the final say, ending the debates for some time. Down the history prophets particularly Muhammad (PBUH) ended the debate of necessary and unnecessary knowledge and trained up a community of necessary knowledge or ‘Ilman Nafey’ who ruled the world well with that for some time.