Self-learning is the road to knowledge

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Noted writer Humayun Azad wrote a piece for children to teach them how to write poems in an easy way. There he taught them all the techniques of writing poems. First came the language, the meanings of words; their sights, sounds and colours. Then came the subject of thinking; the technique to develop the thoughts. Finally, he wrote a poem. Thus he set an example of how easy it is to write a poem. 

Likewise, there is an easy way to rise to fame, when it comes to being an intellectual. This piece is intended to help those who are in pursuit of knowledge. There are many people who buy a lot of books, and try to read them whenever they can make time. Still, they can make neither head nor tail of what they read. If you cannot see the whole elephant, touching the tusk, tail or the leg will not give you a clear idea of how the animal looks like. Knowledge is like that.  

There is the formal education in our country as elsewhere in the world. We all are acquainted with this system of education. Most of our people are educated in this way. The higher you climb a tree, the broader the view of the surroundings you get and wider the horizon of your knowledge becomes. But the problem with the present system of education is: the students often have no alternative but to study subjects they do not like. They study those subjects only for the purpose of getting jobs. So, some students often drop out, while others somehow manage to complete the course. After completion of study, it so happens that one lands a job in a field that has little or no relation to what one has learnt. Thus the thirst for knowledge is lost. Self-learning is important, if one wants to study to become an intellectual.  

There are different ways of doing it. One approach is to study history. If one studies history, it will bring forth other areas of interest, like literature, philosophy, economics, science and so on. If one is interested, one can study any of them. If that whets the appetite, one can choose to chew or even devour it.  

The other approach is: simply going by the interest, like the man in 'The Bet' by Anton Chekhov. The man chose solitary confinement on the condition that he would get all the supplies needed for survival. It was also decided that he would get access to books. First, he sought a particular book. After reading it, he chose another book. Later, he sought more books and at a certain stage his list of books started to grow longer. Once he was ordering for the books of theology. Then he turned to philosophy and so on. After forty years, when he came out of the confinement, he was a different man, because the books he read over the forty years transformed him. 

Our National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam did not complete even the secondary education. Still he left his mark on literature, music and other areas. How was it possible? His learning was guided by his interest. He learnt before doing anything. For example, when he was cast as a music director for a film, he spent a long time with an ethnic community to learn about their culture. When he came back, he wrote and composed the great piece, 'khopai para nurir mala jhumur jhumur baje re.' 

If one enters a library, one finds a lot of books available for reading free of cost. But it is not possible to read all the books. Here lies the importance of choosing one's own way. One can do it by starting with reading the history books or leave it to be decided by the area of one's interest. There may be other ways. too.

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