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Once upon a time, there was this illiterate bird in the kingdom. It sang songs, but never read the scriptures. It jumped about and flew, but never cared for custom and convention. The king proclaimed, “Such a bird is of no use; it eats fruits in the orchard, and the fruit market runs at a loss!” He summoned his ministers and ordered, “Give the bird some education!”
So starts Rabindranath Tagore’s short story Tota Kahini (‘The Parrot’s Tale’ or ‘The Parrot’s Training’) which was first published in 1918 in a Bengali magazine Sabuj Patra.
Apart from being known as ‘Bishwa Kobi’ or World Poet and being the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, Tagore was an educational activist. He had noted and predicted the dangers of western civilization as the east emulated the western system either by choice or through enforced educational ideals.
Even at a time when people were furiously raising their voice during the nationalist movement, Tagore envisioned a “No-Nation” scenario based not on the divisive stance of the colonists but on internationalism and mutual cooperation and harmony. He writes in his essay ‘Nationalism in India’: “Nationalism is a great menace. It is the particular thing which for years has been at the bottom of India’s troubles. And inasmuch as we have been ruled and dominated by a nation that is strictly political in its attitude, we have tried to develop within ourselves, despite our inheritance from the past, a belief in our eventual political destiny.”
Tagore believed that true education couldn’t be achieved when alienated from one’s cultural roots.
The colonial system imposed upon Indian children was ill-suited to their development. The system encouraged rote learning without any proper base, the syllabus had no connection to the Indian children’s reality, the uniform in the new schools was too warm for the Indian climate, and most importantly, the system promoted competition amongst individuals rather than cooperation.
The entire education system of the colonisers smacked of importance on the self, rather than humanity as a whole. Ironically, in spite of the importance on self, the system had no place for the individual spark. Without this intellectual and emotional sympathy and respect for the individual traits and needs, true education and development is impossible.
Tota Kahini: the story
Tagore’s Tota Kahini tells the story of how a king forces “education” onto a parrot. It is a deadly satire on how the education system of the colonized paid no heed to the cultural traits inherent in the Indians which had taken root over hundreds of years, and instead forced on them an educational system which destroyed their very soul and took down the nation.
The parrot is first introduced as “illiterate” and “of no use” to the society. It fell on the nephews of the king to “educate” the bird. The first reason for the parrot’s illiteracy was found to be its “nest of twigs and straws” which was apparently too small to hold much education. Thus, a golden cage was made for it. People from afar came to appreciate it- “Education or not, the bird got a great cage! What a lucky bird!” As the cage was maintained and polished regularly, people applauded the “progress”. Scribes were called for, and heaps of manuscripts copied for the bird’s “education”. This “overflow of learning” impressed many. All those employed for this process gradually grew richer, drawing fat salaries in the name of the parrot’s “education”.
When a critic commented, “The cage keeps getting better, but no one cares about the bird”, the king was infuriated and went to see for himself “the furious pace at which education was being imparted”. He arrived to a huge clamour of musical instruments, chants, and a crowd of masons, goldsmiths, scribes and clerks. The king was rather impressed with the sound, to which his nephew replied, “It’s just not the sound, Your Highness! A lot of money has gone behind this!” Satisfied, the king was about to mount his elephant, when the critic reminded him of the bird. The king turned back and was shown the “education” process.
“The process was so much larger than the bird itself, that the bird was not seen, rather, it was fair enough not to see the bird. The king realized that there was no dearth of arrangements. The cage had no food or water. Reams of pages from hundreds of textbooks were thrust to the beak of the bird with tips of pens & quills. The bird not only could not sing, it could not even cry out. The process was very exciting.”
The bird started to die, but due to its “wild nature”, it often looked at the sun and snapped its wings. The policeman railed at the “show of indiscipline” and an ironsmith came to beat the cage and clamp the wings of the bird. The royal relatives of the king decried: “In this country, the birds are not only undisciplined, they are ungrateful!” No-one knew when the bird finally died until the critic had spread the rumour. The king called his nephew and demanded answers.
The nephew replied, “The education of the bird is complete, Your Highness!”
The King asked, “Does it jump anymore?”
The nephew said, “Heavens, no”
“Does it fly?”
“Does it sing?”
“Does it shout if it does not get its feed?”
The bird was brought to the king and he pressed it. It didn’t move, didn’t make a sound or open its beak. “Only the dry papers from the books rustled in its belly.”
Tagore’s education system
Tagore conceived a new type of education system which referred back to the ancient methods of learning in India. He sought to “make Santiniketan the connecting thread between India and the world [and] a world center for the study of humanity somewhere beyond the limits of nation and geography” (Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded by Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson).
In his school Vishva Bharati established in 1918, Tagore employed a brahmacharya system in which students had gurus who would guide them on a personal basis on the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual levels. Students wore loose Indian clothing and walked barefoot. They were more in touch with nature and most of the time teaching was carried out in the open. Students were encouraged to sing, dance, act, paint and take any means which would help their creativity evolve.
Tagore wanted to build a system on the amalgamation of the Eastern and Western culture which would bring together the ancient and the modern, and the urban and rural. He believed that an education system with Indian roots would help the people rise beyond the divisive ideals inherent in the western education system. Education was, for Tagore, a means to bring together the entire human race by means of cooperation. “The people who are lacking in this higher moral power and who therefore cannot combine in fellowship with one another must perish or live in a state of degradation.” (Nationalism in India)
Tagore was fully aware of the direction the world was moving in with the suspicion and hatred among nations and individuals which gradually poisoned our minds and the environment we live in. His thoughts are well expressed in his last speech The Crisis of Civilisation. The right means of education which would develop the mind, spirit and body as a whole while bringing together the entire humanity by means of cooperation, is one way which Tagore suggested might help heal the world.
[Full Tota Kahini Translation here]
Apple has acknowledged an issue where the "unlock with Apple Watch" feature might not work with its new iPhone 13 devices and promised to fix this issue with an upcoming software update. "You might see 'Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch' if you try to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask, or you might not be able to set up Unlock with Apple Watch," the iPhone maker said in the support document.
This issue will be fixed in an upcoming software update. Until the update is available, you can turn off Unlock with Apple Watch and use your passcode to unlock your iPhone 13. To turn off Unlock with Apple Watch, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode.
Earlier, multiple users found that they cannot unlock their iPhone 13 with the Apple Watch and instead received an error. User Monzilla88 on Reddit first reported the issue to the subreddit r/AppleWatch. They stated that both their iPhone 13 Pro and Apple Watch SE are up to date with the newest iOS and watchOS updates.
"Whenever I try to enable unlock with Apple Watch on my phone I get an error saying "Unable to communicate with Apple Watch," they posted. Monzilla88 claimed that they had tried unpairing and repairing, hard resetting both devices, turning on and off passcodes, but not no avail, the report said. More than 20 other users self-reported the same problem, with others noting that the feature works fine on iOS 15 on older models of iPhone, including the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the iPhone X. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: iPhone 13, apple, watch, issue, update, face lock
The nursery rhyme Goosey Goosey Gander is filled with multiple meanings. It is another one of those rhymes believed to have emerged from the time of great persecution in England during the Reformation. It also holds a contemporary, colloquial meaning.
The original verse goes something like this:
Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stair (allnurseryrhymes.com)
There are other versions that deal with more specific ideas from which separate meanings have been interpreted.
Catholic priests being killed for continuing to keep the faith Image source: wikimedia commons
The primary interpretation is believed to be regarding the Catholic priests getting persecuted by King Henry VIII and his Protestant successors. Catholicism in England was frowned upon when King Henry established the Church of England. Anyone practicing Catholicism was put to death for treason. Many of the courtiers were hanged on this charge, and are noted in history as being martyrs for their faith.
Those who managed to practice their religion without being discovered did so in what was called a 'priest hole'. These were small rooms in the walls of a house that was covered by tapestry or a bookshelf. The required prayer instruments would be placed here, and the person would retire to this chamber at night, or at a time when they were not required elsewhere. The goose that wanders her mistress's house in the nursery rhyme discovers such a person, presumably a priest, and exposes him, or 'throws him down the stair'.
An alternative meaning to this rhyme originates from the lower class of England's population, a colloquial term used widely among the non-rich. The word 'goose' was used commonly to address a prostitute, and here, could possibly refer to a woman who has acquired an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). "Whither shall I wander?/ Upstairs and downstairs/ And in my lady's chamber," could be a reference to the spread of an infection that a man acquires from such a woman, which causes him to be ostracised from his community. It was quite common in England for an upper-classman to bed a lower-class woman in the society of those days.
It is rather interesting that such a practice would turn into folklore, and in turn, become a rhyme sung by little children all over the world. It has certain amusing images no doubt, but not without raising questions. England of the times of Reformation was certainly a dark place, with a terribly dark heritage.
Keywords: Heritage, Rhymes, Folklore, England, Reformation
Many individuals struggle with psychological distress at home because most of us spend the whole day doing nothing. Being trapped inside our homes may seem inconvenient, but if you have the time and patience, the time spent indoors offers the ideal chance to learn new abilities. Whether you want to transform your body by following a daily routine with the help of millions of tutorials available across platforms, or you want to learn coding, cooking, a new language, here are some skills you can learn from the comfort of your home.
- A new language: Learning a new language online from the comfort of one's own home is simple and relatively inexpensive, thanks to apps such as Duolingo and Busuu. Gaining knowledge of a new language improves your communication skills. It allows you to communicate with a more significant number of individuals and open new doors, and expand your perspectives. Although most of us cannot travel due to COVID-19 restrictions, do not allow that to stop you from upskilling yourself.
Gaining knowledge of a new language improves your communication skills. | Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
- Writing: When it comes to skills, writing is one of the essential ones you may possess. It is the primary mode of communication for most people, particularly in this day and age with the internet, texting, and social media. Writing also has the added benefit of improving your public speaking abilities. Books, online courses, videos, and, of course, actual writing practice are all excellent resources for learning how to enhance your writing skills.
When it comes to skills, writing is one of the essential ones you may possess. | Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
- Programming: Programming is one of the highest-paying professions available that does not require the completion of a Bachelor's degree. So even if you didn't pursue a degree in computer science in college, you may still benefit from this skill. Understanding the fundamentals of programming allows you to assist in the launch of an application, the optimization of a website for search engines, and the creation or editing of content. Many online platforms are available to assist you in learning to code. Recently, I also enrolled for C/C++ programming on Internshala.
Programming is one of the highest-paying professions available that does not require the completion of a Bachelor's degree. | Photo by Danial Igdery on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Which Is More Important- Degree or Skill?
- Typing Skill: Learning to type quickly and correctly will benefit you in a variety of ways throughout your life, and it should be regarded as a fundamental skill for anybody who intends to work with computers in the future. There are many websites that provide classes to help you learn the fundamentals, and then, after you have mastered the fundamentals, more advanced courses to help you improve your abilities further.
Learning to type quickly and correctly will benefit you in a variety of ways throughout your life. | Photo by Burst on Unsplash
- Video Editing: Video is unquestionably the most powerful marketing and promotional medium available for music, goods, services, news, and educational purposes. There is a strong possibility that video editing may become the next big thing. At the moment, video production does not need large financial investments; just having access to a computer is all that is required if you possess the right video editing skills. Besides YouTube, which has a large number of detailed videos on video editing, you may discover courses on Udemy and Lynda that can assist you in learning the necessary skills
There is a strong possibility that video editing may become the next big thing. | Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash
Another thing you may do when you're stuck at home is work on your personal development. We should all strive to improve ourselves as individuals. Here are some ways through which can understand the Significance Of Self-Love And How To Nurture It.
Keywords: Skills, home, COVID, pandemic, coding, language, typing, self-love, writing