Distance leads to enchantment
Education helps one learn new things, I always believed. At the same time, I just couldn’t deny the independent existence of learning irrespective of formal and informal education avenues. That’s why we should really appreciate the idea of ‘distance education’ that enables many to learn. Maybe, it is intended for those who have finished education but still want to learn.
Nevertheless the idea of ‘distance education student’ may not always be a welcome one in a formal university setup. I had been taking a similar experience for over a year ever since I opted for a yoga course at a varsity near Bengaluru. Yes, there was no discrimination or distinction between regular and distance students per se yet eyebrows were certainly raised the moment one revealed one’s identity as a ‘distance education student’!
And what these two separate watertight compartments, regular and distance students, thought of each other was equally interesting. The divisions were clear cut yet the views were strikingly similar. Regular students were considered to have more ‘depth of knowledge’ and a ‘better understanding’ of the subject. They were always considered ‘more privileged’ to have an access to Gurukula system that stream of yoga demanded. On the contrary, distance students, who visited the varsity once in six months to appear for exams and lectures, were seen just trying to measure out things. Every time, by the time they fathomed something, it was time to leave.
The concept of distance education may have been introduced considering the students’ foundations were perfect and finishing touches were needed. The idea could have been to attract grownups. Since most of us prefer to be students all our lives, many may just end up becoming grown up kids who are yet to put learnings into practice. When gulping philosophy and writing it down in an answer sheet is easiest thing, who would bother to practice?
The ‘distance education student’ label never irked me. I appreciated time investment and dedication of regular students. During my interactions with many of them, I could understand their impressions about distance education students as ‘professionals’ and ‘smart manipulators’! Even some faculty drew a perfect line between the two while expressing displeasure over for half-hearted approach to yoga education of distance students.
To me, the distinction between distance and regular defeated the very purpose of unity. Yes, the varsity has a picture perfect setting, morning evening chants, prayers, measured food, being in the close proximity of nature and many practicing yoga in one’s unique way. Yet, yoga demanded more of unlearning than learning. I stood at a crossroad of education and learning where life demanded more applications than theory.
Earlier it would happen. During initial visits to the varsity, I would find everything ‘ideal’ and see myself more peaceful. Inner pursuit for happiness is the purpose of yoga, they stressed over and again. Hence, it hardly mattered where one lived. It was amazing for me to stay close to yoga teachings in spite of becoming miles away from the varsity.
After all, certificates and learning could never coexist, so could never theory and practice. Eventually, what we perceive to be two are one. Again, there is some distance in closeness too, isn’t it?