Friday, May 23, 2014


Having attained perhaps the highest degree in education, PhD, I reflect on what was the most important part of my stint with education and what were the most important lessons learnt.

Which part of education did I really enjoy through the time I was studying? -- I think that would be PhD. I gave me the freedom to think and explore for myself. I was never one who could forge interest in something I wasn't inclined to know, therefore school and college, where we Indian kids are burdened with everything there is to know in the world, didn't go quite as well. I loved literature (both Hindi and English), geography, biology and physics. I gradually lost interest in Physics because of my compromised mathematics. I could never make sense of what we were doing in maths. I could only relate to the world of the living and the what could be shown to directly affect them. 

Of course I knew maths was important but in my environment it was only important because if you were good in maths, you could pursue an engineering degree and go on to earn lots of money quickly; that explanation was enough for me to lose interest in it. Then in senior school I couldn't understand differential calculus and everybody around me was happily cramming formulas and scoring big. I couldn't understand what to do with the damn thing. How the hell will I ever use differentiation in the living world? Of course if became clearer that it was using in deriving many fundamental formulas of sciences (later I found that even biological ones) but at that time even the formulas were a means to an end. To cram them, do speedy calculations and score good grades...which again was a means to an end to become a medical doctor or an engineer. Oh Boy! Have I been lost. PhD gave me a chance to reflect on it all. Though it kept me occupied enough to not give quality time to learn some things that began to fancy, like calculus but it kept the fascination alive and flamed my interest further. I'm very thankful to the internet and to documentary makers like the BBC, which bring the biographies of great scientists, statesmen, hermits, photographers, god (?!). Watching these humbled me quite a bit as I learnt that most of these people never had it easy and/or were bordering insanity. Einstein, Eastman Kodak, Tesla, Newton are some examples and there are so many more. 

Of course PhD itself has it's fair share of the rat-race, i.e. publishing papers. I kept myself immune to the temptation while working on a difficult project. This was much to the convenience of my supervisor who was under no pressure to get my authorship in a paper, neither from his side and nor mine. Past PhD aged 34, I've been brought to my knees and I accept that this is not the way the world works. Now I'm at it, working for a paper. I accept that people are horribly selfish and that if I allow myself to be the sacrificial lamb, people will que up to slit my throat.

Did I need a PhD to learn this lesson? No, rather it delayed the lesson. 

Will I become horribly selfish like many others around me? I'm tempted to but I won't. I'd rather climb up the ladder and then get these people to mend their ways (those that I'll come across). Who knows how high I'll go, all I know is that I want to and when I want to, I do.

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