Accursed Human Education


D. H. Lawrence in his poem ‘Snake’ has used the term ‘Accursed Human Education’. A man comes to his water trough and finds a snake drinking water instinctively; he feels that he should wait a second till the snake finishes his drinking. This feeling prevents him from disturbing the snake. But further his civilized thought is spoiled by his knowledge about snakes, his knowledge prompts him to kill the snake as he knows the snake was poisonous, his ego wants that by killing the snake he must prove that he is a man. Not less cruel than these two, his possessiveness asks him to restrict the snake’s freedom. Finally, when the snake retreats to its fissure, the man picks a clumsy log and throws it towards the snake—a very mean, shameful act. Here comes the term ‘accursed human education’. If we judge the man’s original thought, it is truly human and undoubtedly civilised. But he doesn’t stick to it. It is highly volatile, easily affected and even forgotten. Affecting factors are his knowledge—his so-called education, his ego and his possessiveness. In fact, human education aims at education of a human being, his moral and social ascent, his improved sense of the environment and his responsibility towards it. The man is equipped with education but the question is whether his education really prepares him to confront all the situations in his life in a real human way. It’s not easy. Many a times we need to overcome our temptations, conquer our whims, keep our selfish motives aside. Seemingly simple though these may appear, these are real time ordeals. And education is expected to prepare us to face such ordeals. Education must create spiritually strong, disciplined, principled humans. But unfortunately, the scenario is disappointing. The term ‘education’ appears to have lost its aim, its glorious goal.

D. H. Lawrence, in early 1920s, had rightly used the term ‘accursed human education’.


Amitava Mitra