If there’s one thing we learn from Dan Brown is that art, science (and crime) often go hand in hand. We all know that physics, without maths, is meaningless. It’s devoid of any value. Similarly, biology without chemistry simply would not make sense. Some say that our understanding of the Universe is based on our understanding of science, and while that is entirely true, there is more to it than just our three conventional sciences. The world is an intricate blend of everything – history, physics, and geography. Think of these subjects as an ecosystem – they depend on each other. Like a food chain, they form a circle. Without one, the other simply ceases to exist.
Our history is laced with great philosophers, scientists, explorers and writers. Everything we know comes from a study of history. Every study of political systems comes with an understanding of philosophy – the same philosophy which makes its way into great novels and poems. Our knowledge of continents, oceans, mountains, rivers – and inherently the study of entire civilizations comes from forming a relationship of geography to physics.
This brings me to my main question. Why must we, in India, follow a pattern of separating one subject from the other and grouping certain subjects together, and making other subjects entirely inaccessible to the students? Every major Indian board is divided into three streams – humanities, commerce and science post 10th grade. For example, after 10th, a student who wishes to pursue both geography and physics simply may not.
Same goes for a student who wishes to study statistics and history, despite both fields being intrinsically related. In most schools and colleges, students are not given the option of choosing unconventional subjects and are forced into subjects they don’t particularly like, all because they don’t have the choice. Subjects like music, art and theatre are ignored entirely.
The same problem continues later when students pursue their majors. While it’s great that we’ve made progress by giving more options to students than just engineering, medicine or law, we must now offer the choice for students to pursue subjects in a combination of their choice. Already, IB schools follow this pattern of education, as with new and upcoming liberal arts Universities, like Ashoka, Symbiosis and Flame.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Don’t let the unavailability of a subject in your school or college curb your curiosity for it. Remember, you are learning to gain knowledge, not just a degree. As of today, there are millions of resources available to help you learn. Websites like edX offer thousands of free online courses, which you can learn from and complete at your own will.
YouTube is always a great source of information, for any subject, ranging from photography to politics. Several online guidebooks and pdf files ensure that you don’t even need to spend a penny on textbooks and guides. Information is available to you at the touch of a button. Use it.
What do Aristotle, Plato, Da Vinci and Michelangelo have in common? They were not just mathematicians, painters, philosophers, scientists, or historians. They were all of that and more. Imagine – their contributions some hundreds and thousands of years old in every field, are relevant to this day. If this is not proof enough that even today, we need holistic education, I don’t know what is.