Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of the chapter “Life and Learning” by G.B. Shaw of the Assam Board (AHSEC / SEBA) Class 11 (first year) Alternative English (Seasons) textbook. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: Shaw’s own philosophy of education, schooling, life, and learning is laid out in his essay “Life and Learning” Shaw argues that education is only the beginning of a lifelong process of learning.
For him, life outside of school is where true education begins. Shaw believes that there is a ceiling to what can be accomplished through dispersed learning because of the mechanistic mindset required to master the written word. Shaw reflects on the informal education he received from a governess, describing how he felt she fell short of his expectations because of her own lack of knowledge.
Shaw had similar doubts about formal education, despite his firm belief that early exposure to new information has a long-lasting effect on memory retention. As a result, Shaw encourages his audience to maximise their learning potential while they still have the chance. Shaw thought that this was necessary because it would better prepare us for the “great school of the world,” which is the real world. Shaw continued by elaborating on the rigidity of the daily routine, comparing it to the uncurated German boots and socks. As a matter of fact, they don’t fit any human being the way we’d like them to, and we have to make do with what we can.
Shaw adds his thoughts on the matter by arguing that we are unable to fully internalise the many different types of routines we encounter in daily life. Shaw stresses the importance of becoming a crammer—someone whose entire life is dedicated to completing an activity for which you do not have the time to prepare. Shaw used the importance of a crammer in studying past exams to demonstrate this point. Crammers study past exams to learn which types of questions were asked and which types of answers were deemed correct by exam administrators.
Shaw elaborated on this idea by noting that the goal of examination in his time was merely to get a passing grade. To achieve this goal, memorization of facts and information that may be irrelevant to the students’ everyday lives is necessary. This system may have been criticised for being redundant, but it’s actually a very effective cramming tool. He argues that a student’s ability to ace an exam depends on his or her familiarity with past papers because they can provide clues about the types of questions to expect. Shaw then added that the fields of medicine, the clergy, and the navy still adhered to the traditional structure of education, skills training, and employment. Since showing off one’s knowledge in such a conservative education system can get students into a difficult position, it is important for us to understand the topic from the perspective of the teacher/examiner.
If you want to pass your exams, Shaw says, you can’t let the examiners read your mind. While discussing flaws in the educational system, Shaw complained that his teachers had a complete and utter lack of knowledge about the topics that had always interested him. Thus, Shaw viewed his time spent in school as a form of penal servitude and found reading schoolbooks to be less enjoyable than the works of many English poets, playwrights, historians, and scientific pioneers. Shaw’s conclusion that academic success should not be used as a reliable indicator of future success is indicative of his innate artistic temperament.
I. State whether the following sentences are true or false.
1. The hardest part of the school, according to Shaw, is the early part.
2. School life is always irksome.
3. There was a time when German boots were not divided into right and left.
4. The scholar who knows everything exists.
5. Shaw forgets everybody five minutes after they have been introduced to him.
II. Answer these questions in one sentence.
1. What is Shaw’s interesting opinion on “routine”?
Answer: For Shaw, the routine was meant to be universally appealing but ended up appealing to precisely no one.
2. Why were English people going to live in Germany astonished?
Answer: The Englishmen who moved to Germany were astounded to discover that German boots were not divided into rights and lefts.
3. Why is Vinci’s notebook considered funny?
Answer: The idea that Earth is the sun’s moon, as stated in Vinci’s notebook, is widely seen as funny.
4. Why does Shaw call himself “an educated man”?
Answer: Shaw considers himself “an educated man” due to the fact that, over the course of his sixty years on Earth, he has learned about many things other than those covered in his formal education. As a result, he is better prepared for whatever life throws at him, with a narrower knowledge gap between his academic training and real-world experience.
5. Why didn’t the governess teach Shaw the table logarithms and the binomial theorem?
Answer: There is a good chance that Shaw’s governess didn’t teach him the table logarithms or the binomial theorem because she probably didn’t learn these concepts in school.
III. Answer these questions in two or three sentences.
1. Why does the author say that the hardest part of schooling is the early part?
Answer: The author argues that the first few years of formal education are the most challenging because students are subjected to a regimen of rote instruction designed to ensure that they retain as much information as possible across all subject areas.
2. How can a crammer find out what questions are going to be asked?
Answer: By carefully poring over question papers from previous years, a crammer can anticipate the sorts of questions that will be on an exam and the types of responses that will be required.
3. Why does Shaw say that once students are safely through their examinations, they will discover their education to be defective?
Answer: This is due to the fact that students are rarely prepared for actual difficulties in life. In fact, you won’t even know how to take care of the basics like eating, drinking, sleeping, and breathing.
4. Who is a savage or an ignoramus, according to Shaw?
Answer: Someone who writes books without knowing how to write is a savage or an ignoramus, according to Shaw.
5. Why does Shaw think he has not grown up yet?
Answer: Because he believes there is so much more knowledge he has yet to acquire, Shaw does not feel like he has matured.
IV. Answer these questions briefly in your own words.
1. Why does Shaw say that to do well in an examination, you must go to a crammer’?
Answer: According to Shaw, if you want to do well on an exam, you need to visit a crammer because that’s where you’ll learn which types of questions have been asked in the past and which types of answers are considered acceptable.
2. ‘School to me was a sentence of penal servitude.’ Explain.
Answer: Shaw’s “Life and Learning” contains the above-quoted line, which reads, “School to me was a sentence of penal servitude.” These words were spoken by an anonymous speaker whose creative spirit had been extinguished by the rote learning methods of our broken and obsolete educational system.
3. How does Shaw argue that a routine, which is supposed to suit everybody, suits nobody?
Answer: Shaw compares having a routine at school to wearing universally ill-fitting German boots. This is due to the fact that each person possesses their own unique set of skills, abilities, and potential that cannot be catered to or developed through routine.
4. Explain why is it dangerous to give up-to-date answers in the examinations?
Answer: It’s risky to give contemporary answers on exams because your examiners could be old fogies who already know the information you’re privy to or who might disagree with your opinions and form a negative impression of you as a result.
V. Answer these questions in detail.
1. Shaw had a reputation for holding radical views and opinions, and “Life and Learning” is an excellent example of that. Which views of Shaw do you agree with, and why?
Answer: In the same vein as Shaw, I believe that it is essential to continue learning and gaining as much knowledge as possible from the things happening in the world. In my view, formal education serves only as a tool to help us use our own minds to learn about the world. In comparison to the knowledge we need to handle situations that life will throw at us, our formal education is a mere speck of dust, and if we rely solely on formal education, we will terribly fail even to overcome simple difficulties in life.
2. Suggest some steps to improve the quality of school education in your state/region.
Answer: Some measures that can enable the right ecosystem needed for imparting quality education in my state are:
i. Eliminate multiple boards (CBSE, ICSE, State Boards, etc.). A solitary board should serve the entire nation.
ii. The students should not be graded on their language skills. At the conclusion of Class X, only a certificate is given out. In this way, students who struggle with language won’t be held back.
iii. A mandatory two-month long internship at a relevant industry or company following completion of high school.
iv. Classes 9–12 are required to take one elective class, which can be anything from home economics to music to theatre to auto repair, etc.
v. The government of India should mandate that all teachers register with the agency, after which they will undergo inspections and receive grades based on their performance. Government of India registration is required even for private school teachers.
vi. Having Politics as a Required Course in Schools. Each school from ninth grade through twelfth grade should hold elections for a youth parliament, a youth judiciary, and a youth legislature.
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