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Learning to unlearn: How our education system has failed us (and how do we bounce back)

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Being a seemingly unemployed graduate, this Dashain showered me with a range of strange blessings from my family and relatives. ‘May you be granted Visa’, ‘May you earn a lot in the days to come’, ‘May you get a name and fame’ were the ones that topped the list. My cousins, some of who are still school-goers, received blessings of being doctors and engineers and standing first in their classes. No one cared about what we’d love to do with our lives. We were offered lengthy hymns of blessings, but what we wanted to become later in life was never cared for.

This is my personal experience, but I bet thousands of others can relate to this.

This led me into a brief contemplation and I couldn’t resist myself searching for a connection between our social and cultural upbringing and our education system. A question evolved in my head, ‘isn’t this why our (education) system has failed us?’

Inside the pages of our bulky books that we carried reluctantly to schools, there’s a fine-tuned version of our best selves in making, fabricated in utopian silk. It’s something to ponder upon. During the six long hours in schools, our kids are taught, sometimes with batons and ‘sit-ups’, to be disciplined, to behave in a civilized way. These kids yawn their jaws out for the rest of the day, and on their way back home they buy noodles, savor the MSG adulterated snack and throw the plastic wrappers away on the roadside. They rush home; they’ve got an assignment to do: the teacher had told them to write an essay on ‘Earth and Environment.’

Chapters in the schoolbooks tell our kids not to litter, but these lessons are lost in translation.  The way we tend to make people understand things involves a lot of mugging and dictating and memorizing at the expense of understanding and applying. Instead of being a productive and inspirational guardian angel for our students to sharpen their creative processes, our curricula rather narrow the choices of our pursuits. It was meant to plant seeds of progression, humanity and beautiful changes, but on its way it guided us to be even hungrier for power and money.

Far from their genuine purpose of delivering wisdom, classrooms are dull and boring bubbles where indifferent teachers come for money and uninterested students listen to them out of fear. Schools, instead of helping students to unleash their productive capacity, tend to normalize each and every child to a standardized line of measurement. Amidst chalks and talks, a child who recruited in pre-school swiftly turns into a high school graduate, but he himself doesn’t realize what he’s going to do with his life. This is how strangely our education has failed us, repeatedly. It’s not hard to comprehend the development of this social paradigm if we care enough to think a bit about the political inclination, degree of unionization and politicization of our school systems, teachers and institution operators.

Children are trained, not taught. They are trained to memorize formulae and count words and score high on tests. Their curiosity is clawed by the fear of under-performance, their uniqueness is paralyzed by the compulsion of conformity that our system dictates. Their differences in opinion are barely celebrated, their creative endeavors seldom admired. A kid is expected to believe that a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, but how? He’s barely shown. Showing them takes pragmatism, and our schooling system is tragically poor in it.

We have been so inured to a corrupt system that we have constructed a social concept of ‘you’re doing great as long as you’re making money’. Ethics and morality, dignity and righteousness have been left behind far away in our journey to this point in the history. We tell our children to study hard so that they can earn money later in life, but we never tell them that wealth is not the answer to everything. Every time, generations by generations, a large mass of tender youths are brainwashed by our education system to fit into places, to compete, to outrun their fellow mates.. We have sadly been convinced that money can buy respect. We then fight with each other, we pull strings to get better off than the ones around us. Mutualism and co-operative spirit die a brutal death. In this competition of achieving more and earning a good fortune, the real joy of living is often compromised. The end result: a person, who as a kid, sang songs brilliantly ends up working as a salesperson, a kid who dreamt of pursuing career in robotics gives up his passion and settles for a 9-5 job that he has been persuaded to believe is lucrative. The pursuit of creativity fades away in an irreversible way and the whole nation bleeds in agony. We talk of brain drain, but we never seek out solutions.

In this ever changing world where technological triumphs have been advancing each day, we’re still stuck in a conundrum of setting up a reliable system. Though we’re lagging, it is never too late to make amends. The conservative methodology of our education system needs to be overhauled with new measures. We need motivated teachers who understand child psychology; mentors who love value-based teaching that can incite imagination and curiosity inside classrooms. We need newer techniques of making kids understand the primary phenomena of the world, earth and human relationships. More than notes and chalks and dusters, our kids need to be habituated for learning with multimedia and similar interactive approaches. We may give lengthy residential trainings to teachers, we may change the grading system for a hundred times, but our kids won’t grow up to be wise citizens unless we celebrate their creativity and encourage rather than suppress their differences in opinion.

We, the ‘grown-ups’, the parents, the teachers, administrators and policy makers are yet to unlearn the beliefs that are engraved deep into our psyche. Before we can make our children learn, there’s a lot in reserve for us to unlearn. We were fed stereotypes, and we were subjected to confirmation. First, we need to wretch that out. We need to mold ourselves into more pragmatic, more reasonable and logical beings before we set up any standards for our kids to live by. We must question everything. Our kids will learn by our examples, not by our dictation. Only when we show them by throwing garbage on the dust-bins can we make them rational enough not to litter. There is no other way.

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Knowledge & Infos

What’s Special Today: November 10

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Chhath:

Historically native to the Indian states of Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand and the southern part of Nepal, Chhath is one of those festivals that transcends the caste system that exists in the society. According to the Hindu calendar, it is celebrated on the sixth day of the lunar month of Kartik. The Chhath Puja is a 4-day long ritual specially offered to the solar deity, Surya, to show thankfulness for good health, good life and to request the granting of some certain wishes.

Day 1: On the first day, the devotees after bathing clean their house and eat the food that is offered to the god to protect the mind from the vengeful tendency.

Day 2: On the second day, the devotees are not allowed to drink even a single drop of water but, in the evening, they eat kheer made up of jaggery, fruits.

Day 3: The evening of the third day which is also known as sandhya ‘arghya’ day where a bamboo basket is decorated with various puja materials, fruits, thekuwa, and laddus which are offered as an ‘argya’ to the Sun. Also, the Chhathi Maiya is worshipped.

Day 4: On the last day of Chhath puja again an arghya is offered to the Sun God but this time in the morning. The devotees go to the riverbank to offer arghya to the rising sun and break their fast and conclude their four-day long worship.

Happy Chhath to everyone! Don’t forget to enjoy some thekuwas!!

World Keratoconus Day:

Every year on November 10, World Keratoconus Day is celebrated to focus global attention on keratoconus and ectatic corneal disorders. The day was first celebrated by National Keratoconus Foundation.

Keratoconus is a disease that causes the cornea to become weak, leading to the thinning and stretching of the cornea, which may result in the loss of vision. Keratoconus is degeneration of the structure of the cornea. The shape of the cornea slowly changes from the normal round shape to a cone shape which affects the vision. The keratoconus mainly develops in teenagers and young adults and the disease keeps on growing, if not diagnosed in time.  

The disease has no prevention and no treatment. With early diagnosis, the disease can be managed and further damage can be protected. In Nepal, the prevalence of Keratoconus is 1 in 2000 according to the recent journal. So, this world keratoconus day, make a commitment to visit an eye doctor once a year for the early diagnosis of keratoconus as well as other eye diseases.

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KMAG Online Writing Workshop reading materials

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Day 1

Covers communication and types of writing. Please check the following articles.

  1. What is communication and how to communicate effectively?
  2. Types of Writing

Also, check out: How miscommunication happens (and how to avoid it)

Day 2

Covers content management system/WordPress, and how to introduce yourself. Please check the following articles.

  1. What is WordPress and How to work in WordPress
  2. How to introduce yourself.

Day 3-5

Covers the basics of expository writing and CV writing.

Day 6

Covers persuasive writing.Please check the following articles.

  1. HOW TO WRITE AN OP-ED: A STEP BY STEP GUIDE
  2. Handout of video class.

Day 7-9

Covers how to write research-based opinion writing.

  1. How to frame an argument
  2. How to write an opinion piece

Day 10

Personal journal writing (my diary)

Day 11-13

Figure of speech and rhetoric.

Day 14-16

How to frame questions.

  1. Art of questioning

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Types of Figure of Speech with examples (Part 1)

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Accumulation

Accumulation is a figure of speech, in which the points made previously are presented again in a compact, forceful manner. It often employs the use of climax in the summation of a speech.

Examples:

  1. We learned communication, we learned types of writing, we learned rhetoric, we learned figure of speech. In all this, we made new friends, we spent hours together.
  2. He founded Nepal; fought for unification, fought for diversity. Leaving wife and child home, he set to occupy the land of people, land of flowers and trees. And he built a country that we call Nepal.
  3. Your organization, your vigilance, your devotion to duty, your zeal for the cause must be raised to the highest intensity.” Winston Churchill, Speech, 14 July 1941. (This sentence comes after a lengthy passage in which Churchill warns the public that their courage and effort are still needed to defeat the enemy).

Adomination

A figure of speech that refers to the repetition of words with the same root word.

Examples:

  1. I will be somewhere, someday, settled with somebody in some place.
  2. I am nobody, reaching no where in this no man’s land.
  3. In the vastness of universe, I am vastly clueless.

Alliteration

A literary stylistic device, where a series of words in a row have the same first consonant sound.

Examples:

  1. Nepalese never nag about Nepal not nationalising.
  2. Looks like lion likes licking lizard.
  3. Come count my comb.

Adynaton

A figure of speech in the form of hyperbole taken to such extreme lengths as to insinuate a complete impossibility.

Examples:

  1. I will meet you when sun rises from west.
  2. Before I finish the work, I will grow a horn.
  3. Stone will talk but she won’t.

Anacoluthon

Derives from the Greek word anakolouthon, literally means “lacking sequence”, is a figure of speech which consists in the abrupt disruption in syntax. Opens in new window resulting from two non-parallel grammatical constructions.

Examples:

  1. I am hungry – have you never played football?
  2. I miss the burgher at – did you see my daughter?
  3. Never in my life – what’s in your mind?

Anadiplosis

The repetition of the last word of a preceding clause. The word is used at the end of a sentence and then used again at the beginning of the next sentence..

Examples:

  1. It’s midnight. Midnight with stars. Stars with the moon. Moon looking at my window. Window hiding me.
  2. “Fear leads to angerAnger leads to hateHate leads to suffering.”
  3. “Your beliefs become your thoughtsyour thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”

Anaphora

A rhetorical device that consists of repeating a sequence of words at the beginnings of neighboring clauses, thereby lending them emphasis.

Examples:

  1. When you felt like giving up, when you felt like crying, when you felt like hitting the wall, just do it.
  2. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way
  3. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Anastrophe

A figure of speech in which the normal word order of the subject, the verb, and the object is changed.

Examples:

  1. Instead of I like Nepal, “Nepal I like.”
  2. World I want to change.
  3. I, her will keep loving till the end

Anti-Climax

It is when a specific point, expectations are raised, everything is built-up and then suddenly something boring or disappointing happens.

Examples:

  1. He killed the king, freed the people, and took the sword and killed himself.
  2. People, pets, batteries, … all are dead.
  3. He loved her so much …he killed her.

Anthimeria

is the usage of a word in a new grammatical form, most often the usage of a noun as a verb.

Examples:

  1. Can you please google to find out the meaning of “anthimeria”? (google is actually noun)
  2. The thunder would not peace at my bidding.
  3. Let’s do some eating. (verb being used as noun)

Antimetabole

the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed order.

Examples:

  1. Eat to live, not live to eat
  2. All crime is vulgar, just as all vulgarity is crime.
  3. Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Antistrophe

The repetition of the same word or words at the end of successive phrases, clauses or sentences.

Examples:

  1. There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.
  2. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
  3. Nepal is beautiful. Nepalese are beautiful. Her style is beautiful. Her heart is beautiful.

Antithesis

is used in writing or speech either as a proposition that contrasts with or reverses some previously mentioned proposition, or when two opposites are introduced together for contrasting effect.

Examples:

  1. I am rich man who longs for a poverty.
  2. When in war, we long for peace; when in peace, we long for war.
  3. Let’s play with the fire to feel the rain.

Aphorismus

It often appears in the form of a rhetorical question which is meant to imply a difference between the present thing being discussed and the general notion of the subject. Statement that calls into question the definition of a word.

Examples:

  1. You eat meat and you call yourself animal lover?.
  2. How can you call this country a peaceful country when everywhere is chaos?.
  3. How am I even a writer with this kind of writing?

Aposiopesis

A figure of speech wherein a sentence is deliberately broken off and left unfinished, the ending to be supplied by the imagination, giving an impression of unwillingness or inability to continue.

Examples:

  1. Please leave my home or else – !.
  2. I want to go home now. If not.
  3. And she left with. I don’t even want to share.

Apposition

Apposition is a grammatical construction in which two elements, normally noun phrases, are placed side by side and so one element identifies the other in a different way.

Examples:

  1. Nepal, my home, is where I want to die.
  2. My brother, Mr. Suresh, is joining me.
  3. Mr. Oli, a famous politician, is giving a speech.

Assonance

Repetition of vowel sounds

Examples:

  1. Reave, please leave.
  2. Hire and fire.
  3. Write so bright that it will frighten right.

ASTEISMUS (not needed but know it anyway)

he rhetorical term for achieving polite or soft mockery whereby the replier catches a sensitive word and redirects it back to the interlocutor with an unexpected twist. Example:

  • Judge: You’re charged with vagrancy. Are you guilty or not guilty?
    Ollie: Not guilty, Your Highness.
    Judge: On what grounds?
    Stan: We weren’t on the grounds. We were sleeping on the park bench.

Asyndeton

A literary scheme in which one or several conjunctions are deliberately omitted from a series of related clauses.

Examples:

  1. He ran, he climbed, he conquered .
  2. I wanted to participate, i made it.
  3. Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Cataphora

Co-reference of one expression with another expression which follows it, in which the latter defines the first. 

Examples:

  1. If you want to eat something, there is pizza in the freeze.
  2. If you want her, she is Ms. Lisa.
  3. He is an idiot. He is a douche. He is lazy. He is my friend, Nishant.

Climax

a figure of speech in which words, phrases, or clauses are arranged in order of increasing importance. Or say, a figure of speech in which successive words, phrases, clauses, or sentences are arranged in ascending order of importance, as in “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”

Examples:

  1. When there is job, when there is peace, and when there is love, happiness occurs.
  2. We want freedom, liberty and democracy.
  3. Men and women are equal, but above, it’s the responsibility.

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