We don’t need no education

School education system is the second most deeply debated topic in Tamil Nadu these days. The first, needless to say, even more hotly discussed subject, is: What Kamal tries to convey in his tweets.

Nobody in TN, and we seriously believe this includes Kamal too, is sure about the contents of his tweets. It has reached a stage where many feel understanding Kamal’s tweets is tougher than cracking NEET.

Getting back to education, the relative merits and demerits of Samacheer Kalvi (Tamil Nadu State Board education system) and CBSE (The education board in which all subjects, including English, are taught in Hindi) are the issues in focus, and supporters on both sides have come up with a lot of well-researched statistics, which has been helpful for the majority of the population to take a decision to totally ignore it. That is because regardless of which Board they studied in most people have a healthy aversion for anything that involves numbers. Never give any percentage statistic is what at least 78% of our readers say.

During my school days, I had the unique opportunity to study in CBSE, Matriculation and the State Boards — all in the same school. The thing was, my school had for long followed the CBSE pattern, but during our 8th standard holidays, it was announced that the school was shifting to Matriculation Board, most likely because it was thoroughly fed up with the never-ending Hindi circulars that the CBSE head office was sending.

Those days, the Tamil Nadu Education Board offered three education systems till the 10th Standard. One, of course, was the plain vanilla, the State Board. The second was the cassata, the Matriculation Board. The third was the falooda, the Anglo-Indian and Oriental System that taught heavens knows what. For all we cared, those schools gave lessons in sorcery and during the PT hour, the students probably played quidditch.

For 11th and 12th standards, my school opted for the State Board, so I ended up getting a taste of three different educational patterns. So if you ask me, using my varied experience, to rank State, Matriculation and CBSE Boards, my first pick would be: Option D, which you seasoned exam-takers would know to be ‘none of the above’.

As a student — it is a good time to say this as last week the nation fondly celebrated Teachers’ Day — I hated classes, homework, assignment, exams and, of course, the teachers. Quite simply, I hated everything about school, except canteen even though the idlis served there would have to be slotted under: construction material.

Not just me, almost all students end up hating school in general because they never really recover from the trauma that is at the core of school education: cursive writing.

Young students would be slowly understanding the structure and style of lettering. They would be slowly figuring out the flow in writing out words. And then, one day the teacher would step up, and announce to the unwary and unsuspecting class: “students, today we will lean cursive writing”. Some students may initially seem wholly enthusiastic about learning something new. But in the fullness of time they too will be disabused of their positive approach. For, cursive writing is basically imparting to students the advanced technique of writing illegibly.

How many times you have looked at a prescription and wondered what the heck the doctor has written there! Blame the darned cursive writing for it. How many times you have looked at that small note from your boss and muttered to yourself, ‘can’t he write legibly!’ Blame the darned cursive writing for it. How many times you have written quick instructions on your daughter’s room door and she not following it all. Well, blame the darned the teenage for it. Cursive writing has nothing do with it.

There is no earthly reason for the world to take to cursive writing. It is like daylight saving time. Or reversing music in cars. Or Parliament. Or Duckworth Lewis rule. Or those two buttons that they provide near the shirt collar to button it down. Or Pahlaj Nihlani. Or the divider in geometry box. No good has ever come out of any of it. It has only confused and confounded the people. But it is still being persisted with.

Not many people know that the Pink Floyd classic ‘We don’t need no education’ was actually a heart-felt cry of anguish against cursive writing. Unfortunately, it was also written down — you can put it down to poetic symbolism or drugs — in cursive style, and that is why they failed to notice the double negative in it.