FOOD FOR THOUGHT-
Has anyone nurtured you?
Put ‘learning nurturing’ on your list of exercises to see what lessons and teachers Life brings
On reading this exercise in a workbook- I remembered my aunt, my mother’s younger sister.
When I was in secondary school- my aunt taught me about different ways of imbibing lessons.
Remembering by writing, is different from reciting, and that is different from explaining to a study partner. Learning by reading is different. The same subject will look different when seen in written, spoken, sharing, reading form. This master class has stayed with me in many ways over the decades.
Those were the times when my aunt used to come to our house from her University campus in Sagar-Madhya Pradesh-Central India. I used to study in St.Vincent’s high school, Pune (established 1867). St.Vincent’s is the school where I studied from Grade 3 to 8.
The teachers were then introducing us to concepts of science, and we even had not separated the three main sciences- biology, chemistry, physics. The mathematics teacher taught us the importance of learning the multiplication tables.
REVISION BY WRITING
In the journeys of learning, I imbibed this lesson to write the summary main points of a particular subject.
So, when science teachers- made charts about the classification of organisms and the concept of genetics, I came to know about Carolus Linnaeus in a bit more detail. And how these giants are related to Darwin (Evolution) , Mendel (Genetics)
Our modern understanding of how traits may be inherited through generations comes from the principles proposed by Gregor Mendel in 1865. However, Mendel didn’t discover these foundational principles of inheritance by studying human beings, but rather by studying Pisum sativum, or the common pea plant. Indeed, after eight years of tedious experiments with these plants, and—by his own admission—”some courage” to persist with them, Mendel proposed three foundational principles of inheritance. These principles eventually assisted clinicians in human disease research; for example, within just a couple of years of the rediscovery of Mendel’s work, Archibald Garrod applied these principles to his study of Alkaptonuria (1)
REVISION BY SPEAKING
The speaking of points learned, took a different level when my Hindi Grade 9 teacher told she will give 100 marks to anyone who will memorize 500 lines of poetry for the Hindi language project.
This made me try this venture- and got me introduced to poets whom I was not familiar with, as I had come into the Central board curriculum- Kendriya Vidyalaya Southern Command-KVSC-Pune (1981-82) after spending 8 years in the Maharashtra board, in which they did not have that level of depth in study of the Hindi language.
I did not get 100 marks, but I was given in 90 plus for this project.
My aunt is a professional historian and teacher. Though she never told me directly, maybe somewhere the interest in the history of the subject, the way the knowledge has evolved -the theory of knowledge has become one of my methods to study a subject in deeper manner.
So I read books on the history of medicine, and came to see the way concepts of lab medicine, imaging medicine, and the marriage of computers to medicine helped push the level of knowledge to a different level.
My aunt gifted to me the biography of Gandhi-The story of my Experiments with truth, when I was studying in Medical school (Maulana Azad Medical College-1985 batch-Delhi). This was a significant addition to the home library, my grandfather had presented me with the Autobiography of Nehru in November 1982- (my last birthday gift from my grandfather-he passed away in March 1983)
On self denial and self fulfilment- the relation of Tolstoy, Gandhi to Sermon on the Mount
Both Tolstoy and Gandhi considered themselves followers of the Sermon on the Mount from the New Testament, in which Jesus Christ expressed the idea of complete self-denial for the sake of his fellow men. Gandhi also continued to seek moral guidance in the Bhagavad-Gita, which inspired him to view his work not as self-denial at all, but as a higher form of self-fulfillment. Adopting a philosophy of selflessness even as a public man, Gandhi refused to accept any payment for his work on behalf of the Indian population, preferring to support himself with his law practice alone. (4)
Recently we saw the touching movie-Gandhi -my Father
Gandhi My Father paints the picture of Gandhi’s intricate, complex and strained relationship with his son Harilal Gandhi. From the onset, the two had dreams in opposite directions. Harilal’s ambition was to study abroad and become a barrister like his father, while Gandhi hoped that his son would join him and fight for his ideals and causes in India.
Harilal finds it unbearable to live in the enormous shadow of his father. Gandhi is assassinated before the two can reconcile and Harilal attends his father’s funeral virtually as a stranger, almost unrecognizable to those around him. A short while later, he passes away, alone and in poverty, having failed to find his own identity.(5)
Has anyone nurtured you?
As I thought about the many direct and indirect lessons I imbibed from that master-lesson which my aunt taught me- learning by writing is different from learning by reading, speaking or sharing with someone has had so many manifestations over the decades.
Using this theme – my mind’s eye went back to geography projects in secondary school, to plant classification projects in high school. Now, as I look back, from doing portfolios in photography, to the discussions of books in a reading group, I smile at the many manifestations.
1-MENDEL- 1865- Eight years on Pea plants- Pisum sativum
2-BIOCHEMICAL GENETICS- 1902- ALKAPTONURIA
3- Earlier Perspectives-Discussions in the Tripoli Reading Group
Readings from “Notes of a Native Son”
“But as for me and my house” my father had said, “we will serve the Lord”. I wondered, as we drove him to his resting place, what this line had meant for him. I had heard him preach it many times. I had preached it once myself, proudly giving it an interpretation different from my father’s…..All of my father’s texts and songs, which I had decided were meaningless, were arranged before me at his death like empty bottles, waiting to hold the meaning which life would give them for me. This was his legacy: nothing is ever escaped. That bleakly memorable morning I hated the unbelievable streets and the Negroes and whites who had, equally, made them that way. But I know that it was folly, as my father would have said, this bitterness was folly”
RELIGIOUS HISTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS
His daughter Emily Raboteou mentioned her father Albert in a most eloquent way in her essay –Searching For Zion-
“Tamar’s father was an expert in medieval Jewish history, while mine specialized in antebellum African American Christianity. Both men made careers of retrieving and reconstructing the rich histories of ingloriously interrupted peoples. Both were quietly angry men, and Tamar and I were sensitive to their anger, which was at once historical and personal. I was acutely aware of the grandfather I had lost to a racially motivated crime under Jim Crow, though my father didn’t discuss the murder with me. He didn’t need to give words to my grandfather’s absence any more than Tamar’s father had to give words to the Holocaust. There were ghosts in our houses.”