Regardless of the subject taught in a course, we can divide education into three “modes”.
In its best form, education teaches us critical thinking; it gives us information about how people have thought before. It also tells us how to think about unsolved problems, the biggest problems, and the biggest unsolved problems. It is safe to say that this type of education is dead today.
In an intermediate form, education gives us knowledge and skills—the theories, formulae, and ideas, that can be used to solve everyday problems, to find a job. Even this education is rare today. Most students enter the real world and find that their education was irrelevant to their jobs.
Then, in its worst form, education gives us a degree but we remember neither the ideas taught in the course nor how to apply them practically, let alone critical thinking skills by which we can navigate the big and unsolved problems. Safe to say, this form of education is dominant today.
Shabda Academy aims to teach students in the first mode. This means: (1) taking them out of rote learning and memorization to simply qualify for examinations, and (2) acquiring knowledge and skills to earn a living. The focus of Shabda Academy is to help students develop the skill to think about the biggest problems, the unsolved problems, and the biggest unsolved problems.
This education cannot be conducted in a vacuum. Rather, it should be carried out in the context of subjects of modern inquiry, such as, logical sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, mind sciences, life sciences, and philosophy. In all these subjects, there are big problems, unsolved problems, and big unsolved problems. But students are not trained to think about them using critical thinking approaches. They have rather memorized and internalized ideas from previous thinking to an extent that they remain unaware of the problems, let alone how to solve them. University and college-educated students parrot the memorized ideas to an extent that anything different seems so alien, that it is immediately considered false and untrustworthy.
In pre-industrial times, most educated people were polymaths. Post industrialization, people were specialized in one field. Post World War II, children focus on a subfield of a field. The result of this education is that they are unaware of how other people (and other disciplines) think. They are taught that the current ways of thinking are the only way, irrespective of the problems in them.
The courses in Shabda Academy aim to produce thinkers. They help students understand the key ideas in each discipline, how these came about, what problems were solved by their induction, and which problems were created by adopting them. These courses navigate the implications of these ideas and their problems, and how they cause endless confusion in modern academia.
We believe that if students learned subjects not as dogmas of the “priests” of their subjects, who often “preach” their courses like absolutely true gospel, but as ideas that have some value, and many unsolved problems, then they can think for themselves. Independent thoughtfulness requires a system of education that is mostly absent today, and Shabda Academy hopes to fill that gap.