Reminiscing about the good old days, remembering the not so innocent child that I was, I couldn’t help but recall how much I liked going to school. It was definitely not for the fun of learning but for my friends, the surroundings and the happy vibes of the place. Without missing a beat, the day would start with me waking up at 6, and ever the futurist me, trying to cram in a half an hour study session in order to please my parents and save in some goodwill for the rainy-day demands. What followed was the unnecessary rush to get to school 45 minutes early, just to catch up, and see if we missed out on any tiny details from each other lives in the last few hours we were apart. The daily updates were followed by the repetitive value education lesson. Everything was planned to self-satisfaction and easiness. Even while remembering those days with fondness, I cannot help but scrunch up my nose while thinking about the daunting math class, the nightmare in the otherwise perfect fantastical memory. What still bothers me is that I actually liked it initially, and if I say so myself was even good at it, but after a point, it got too heavy for me to understand, it was more of a knowing and trying to cope up with it.
The extraordinary juxtaposition that really shouldn’t exist between knowing and real understanding, is what trains our next generation just like it did the last I don’t know how many. What learning has become is the capacity to retain information for a specific period of time and blurt it out when required. And our modern-day institutions aren’t helping the cause instead they are promoting this propaganda like system of knowing. Our educators are also expected to play like a recorder broadcasting out the information for their pupil to remember and exhibit the same with certainty when requested. And being a good student depends on your ability to do retain the said information and not on your character or your hard work or your understanding.
The past few months what I have come to realize, facilitating math among other things was how my knowledge of the subject was just on the surface. Understanding in its purest form has come to me now. It is quite amusing to me how confident I am about area and perimeter, integers, negative numbers, etc., for the first time in my life span. From finding accurate and apt ways to explain to the students what shape is, how the concept of multiplication works, to doing things without the set formula instead understanding and coming up to the conclusion as to why the formula exists. When it was my turn to learn all this I had to figure out how to use it and while teaching and trying and miserably failing to explain to these kids the same concepts I couldn’t really explain it in simple unambiguous and comprehensible words.
It was something like — what is the perimeter of a rectangle … oh! Perimeter is 2(b+h) … or area of a triangle … oh! its ½ b*h … Why no idea. I didn’t have an answer to why, because of my own lack of understanding.
I came to realize that truly understanding anything involves the ability to correlate a whole bunch of knowledge and utilizing that in order to come up with a more definitive conclusion and so on and so forth. And I am not discrediting the good learner but not all of us can remember everything and this is where the understanding comes into play and being able to truly understand depends on your ability to use the knowledge in a more practical form. You could say that while learning is the act of memorization while understanding is the ability to rediscover and clearly see the beliefs and connections that led to the said data in the first place. It involves being able to correlate a whole bunch of data in order to come up with a more integrated conclusion. While being a good learner is always a positive trait, being able to truly understand depends on your ability to comprehend the foundation of this data. You could say that while learning is the act of memorization, understanding is the ability to discover and see clearly the beliefs and connections that designed this data in the first place.
At a younger age, the brain seems to undertake transformation; growth, development, and knowledge. Unlike our adult self when our priorities align with certain responsibilities. The age when our say has a meaning and your consent is powerful. Understanding at this age is more wide scope, catering to all those things that could go wrong. The brain never stops learning new concepts. It continues understanding and even though we may classify brain maturity with understanding, we may never really get it, because sometimes adults remain children at heart and children mature faster than we imagine.
Amidst all this constructing and deconstructing I tried to reflect upon the age of understanding. Is there really a thing like age of understanding or we as individuals have set ourselves to abide by certain social standards of learning – not understanding. In a constant rigor to compete do we get lost in just knowing?