Re-Vision: Learning It The Old Way

Graphics: S. Heramb

When was the last time you felt like re-reading some literary work that you loved the very first time you read it? Ever wonder why you feel compelled to listen to your favourite song time and again? And all these things happen, as if, in an autopilot mode. No effort is needed on your part. As time passes by, do the written words change or does the tune sound different every time you listen?

There was an era when formal education was yet to be born. It was the time when a skilled person was considered gifted, when people thought more with their hearts. These were the days, when a student had to stay at the teacher’s place to learn a skill.

A master vocalist had left the villagers in awe with his art. They thought it best not to send their children around his house, even to play. Arts weren’t considered a respectable profession. Musicians hardly earned a dime. Many children had already started learning under him. Among them, a potter’s son had surrendered all his will to this art and the master.

One day he arrived at the master’s house and began taking regular lessons. But in a few days, he was fed up of practising the same thing over and over. That day, when all other students had left, he complained to the master about it. The master wasn’t surprised at all. This confused the boy more. He asked the boy what he liked doing more than once. The boy replied that it was running on the road, turning a wheel with the stick in his hand. The old teacher asked the boy how long he could do it. The boy said that he could go on for hours and eventually lose the track of time. “But you are doing the same thing repeatedly”, said the master. The boy questioned that why did he find it so interesting?

Sounds familiar? Read on to unlock the bemused boy’s puzzle.

The master replied that each time we are in the company of a thing or person, there happens a unique communication. This is the reason why every sunrise paints a different day, why every breath tells us more about life, if we carefully listen. It is the same secret which potters, like your father, have come across. Doesn’t your father turn the same lump of clay on his wheel, repeatedly, to give it the desired shape? I make students repeat the same lesson for days or months until he stumbles upon this technique on his own. The boy began practising with a new zeal from the next day.

Weren’t the old masters really wise? What we call revision was really re-vision. Maybe someone removed the hyphen to save time and the word lost its purpose. Revised things were seldom the re-thought over ones. They fell into the old-stuff-in-new-pack trap. Although it was being done tied with the blind fold of devotion and respect, in the old days, today we can analyse what we practise.

Stay with, whatever it is – a project, your work, an algebra problem, a bit longer. Every glance towards it will narrate a different story.

Other Posts by the author