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A few years after completing my masters and with a couple of degrees in my kitty, this question seems uncalled for: What is education? Education is what I studied in school and in my under graduation and post graduation colleges. But, a little thought about the topic and a lot more comes to my mind.

There are two kinds of education, formal and informal. The former is what I just defined and is known to all. It is the latter that often goes unnoticed. Infact, it is the informal education that makes or breaks us. Surprising? Let's explore how.

Informal education starts from the time a child is born. The child is like a clean slate. His future depends on what his surroundings shall be like, what his parents shall be like, what they shall teach him, what they want him to become like, etc. The first class that a child goes to is at his home.

As a child grows, he starts interacting with others. He observes every little detail around him. For him, even a chirping bird is a teacher. He notices how a TV turns on, how the adults talk over the mobile phone, how they interact with each other, how the maids work, how and when we laugh or cry or get angry or get violent, how we pray, how we celebrate festivals, how we behave with our elders, who is the final authority in the house, who is everybody scared of, who everybody loves, whom does everybody take lightly and the list is endless. It may not be apparent but, all these things have a bearing on a child's future. This informal mode of teaching has a long lasting impact on the child.

For the sake of simplicity, let us assume that there are two children who receive the same kind of formal education, they are at par with each other academically as well and they make the same career choices. Do you think they would be exactly like each other? Infact, it may not be very surprising if these two individuals turn out to be exactly the opposite of each other in terms of their nature, behaviour, mannerisms, attitudes, beliefs, etc. What caused this stark contrast? The answer is the informal education, as defined earlier.

Infact, the beauty of informal education is that it continues till a person's last breath. Come to think of it, on an average, a person undergoes formal education for 20 years of his life. Presuming the average life expectancy of an individual to be 80 years, informal education would last for as many years. Unfortunately, for most of us, we tend to lay more emphasis on formal education inspite of the fact that it is one-fourth of what the informal one is. This in no way means to undermine the importance of the former but, just that it is high time that we open our eyes to things that we often take for granted.

Let us not see education with a myopic view. Let us not miss the wood for the trees. It is only when we have a holistic view of education that we shall be able to make our world a better place to live in. And mind you, this gyan is not just for children but, for the parents or, teachers as well. The latter should also realize that their education is still not complete and never will be. Thus, they should make a conscious attempt to provide a conducive environment for the growth of their children and themselves.

I have said nothing new till now in the article. I have just stated what is often taken for granted or, ignored. Hope this article shall help us introspect and realize that education is never ending and has a far reaching impact on the people around us. If each one of us just strives to make oneself educated in the sense as defined here, the world will automatically become a better place to live in.

So, the next time you get angry or violent or abusive or misbehave with your elders or ill treat your servants, remember you are setting a wrong example for your kids. Your child may be excellent at his nursery rhymes but, if he learns things like these, they shall have a bearing on the kind of adult he shall become. Worth giving it a little thought? Am sure yes.

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