Atanu Dey On India's Development

It is a connected world

The magical thing about the world is that it is connected. Not just at the physical level, it is connected in the abstract level at which we comprehend the world. Physical connectivity of course is clearly evident. Above our heads, the weather system is global as is the hydrosphere which then connects all the continents. That is geograhical connectivity. Then there is biological connectivity. Every one of us shares common ancestors. We are all cousins, a few dozen times removed at most since we share common ancestors. It is sobering to realize that Sorenson of Norway is a cousin to Mugusha of Zaire although their family resemblence is not immediately apparent. But that relatedness between all humans is just the tip of the iceberg.

Go back far enough in time and you will find that we are related to not just the apes and anteaters, but to all living things from the giant sequoia to the squid. These are the physical connections in the biosphere. At the abstract level, it is also connected. Pick up one any topic — however little and circumscribed — and you will find that it is related to another topic. You cannot study anything in isolation because the underlying reality to which it corresponds is not isolated.

And here is what I am going on about. What is the reason for the unreasonable success of the world wide web? The world wide web is an analog (although somewhat crude at this stage of its development) of the real world (TM). The real world, like the abstract world we study, is a web of relationships. The success of the world wide web is due to its ability to reflect that underlying connected of the world of things and ideas.

What flows though the internet is information. Like the nervous system of a living body, the internet carries information that is critical for the continued existence and stability of the organic entity we call the world wide web.

To fully comprehend the world we live in, we have to appreciate the connectedness of the world. Any educational system which does not appreciate that connectedness and therefore does not emphasize that fact through the way it teaches about the world, is failed to the core. Until now, there was some — only a very minute though — justification why education involved the delivery of isolated disjointed unconnected facts. Perhaps it was really very difficult to put history and phyiscs and social studies and every other topic into one book. Now that reason cannot be cited anymore for the fragmentary method of delivering education.

Technology with its powerful tools for presenting hyperlinked rich audio, video, textual and graphical content is available and affordable. It can edify and entertain and educate with fascinating ease. Here is a brief history of the United States, for example. It would have to be a very dull and uninterested student who will not gain a good deal in those 10 minutes of watching that animated history. This little module can serve as the index to a whole range of interesting topics, for slavery to war to agriculture to migration. (Do take a few minutes to check out that link.)

There are great and wonderful things out there in the web which can be used to provide a complete education. All you have to do is aggregate all the content, the tools, the collective wisdom of many thousands of great teachers and educators, and make it available to students in schools and colleges across the nation. It is not expensive at all: at most a couple of hundred rupees a month per student. But the results will be to create a class of educated kids who would not only be smart but also understand the magical world we are lucky to be in.

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