Exposure: An Essential Part of Education


'Exposure' is an essential part of education. It does not only refer to the mere collective experiences that an individual may acquire during a given period of time, but also the permanent impact that few adventurous experiences would make on the individual in order to perceive and face the significant challenges lying before; experiences that help an individual to foresee, in order to know what to expect where.

I have personally witnessed and realised the potential impact that exposure could make in a globalised world. As a teenager I have been closely following and ultimately became a hard-core fan of "Discovery-Travel" that was introduced to us when Discovery Channel made its preliminary entry into the Sri Lankan Mass Media. For us, as teenagers who had very limited options of TV Channels at that time, around the year of 2000, this was a revolutionary leap, as the channel catered to the variety of viewers, with few notable categories in the viewership spectrum. As we had only handful of channels (Rupavahini, Swarnavahini, ITN and then Eye) with limited national programs in them (not to ignore the savouring cartoons and educational programs), Discovery came as the saviour as it presented the advancement of the world in all the probable fields of interest.

What thrills me the most is the effective way in which Discovery Travel exposed us to the various parts of the earth and how it classically conditioned us to respond to the call of the globalised world. I only realised it in the later years, that these episodes had not only made an awareness of the globe we are living in, but it had also enabled us to be aware of what to expect from each region. Even before I had stepped out of my island-country for the time, I wondered at the awareness of the regions I had gained without the least first-hand experiences (even specifically within the sub-continent of India). And when I did for the first time in 2007, I was able to perceive things already and was able to understand the geographical differences by way of prior ideas I had about the place.

When I began ruminating on this effect that these Discovery Travel episodes had made on me, I narrowed it down to one possible reason that was probably a significant factor in enabling me towards adhering to this conditioning. It was the music!

As I recalled some of those memorable episodes, my memory retrieved them as music. This TV program had led me to a level where I had begun perceiving and understanding the world through music. I would call it a Musical Cognitive Map that had formed in my mind. For many, the world map was registered as colours and shapes, but for me it is still seen through music. My world map reminds me of the varieties of music that would make me feel the cultural, religious and linguistic nuances of each region of the world. I see the world through music; and this realization led me to the search of 'how' this entire process would have happened.

Just listening to parts of regional music, randomly from any part of the world, I was able to guess the linguistic background and the civilisation from which this music would have its roots. The sound of the specific instruments themselves were sufficient enough to trigger the image of the landscape with geographical and geological characteristics. At times, the common industrial and fabric details of the place were also possible to be understood. Such was the immense influence music had made on me.

While recalling and analysing few episodes of Discovery Travel, I closely had my ears fixed to the audio. It paved the way for me to realise that the narration of each episode, with elaborate videographed details, were coupled with each region's signature music. Whether it was folk or hip-hop, occidental or oriental, the music was presented in its pure form without complex fusions. Surprisingly, these music were not used as backdrops for the narration but were intertwined, just as a DNA spiral, in order to provide a similar weight that the narration had in the entire narrative. In this way, the music was able to become an essential element in the narrative and similarly the music also replaced the narration. Thus, as a person who is more inclined towards music than language, if a choice is given between the two, I had always been tending to understand and perceive the entire process through music. I still wonder at the careful delegation of this medium and how much a long-lasting effect it was able to create. The exposure was through music.

I wonder why, we as a system of education, have failed to utilise the simplest mediums to provide exposure. Our exposure projects extend to the extent of space tour, but we have never pondered on bringing in the same exposure through interesting mediums. There are plenty of latest versions with peaks at levels like XD Cinema, but our laboratory, on-field, ethnographic and simulatory experiences still remain at grass root levels.
Time to speculate.

Dr. Winston Subramaniam

Me..? Winston Subramaniam.
Haha. ‘Doctor’ Winston Subramaniam.
Brought up at Trinity College; had an awesome school life there. Then, was pruned at Madras University. Later, you know, as usual, a Ph.D. from Cambridge. In those days it was part of our lifestyle; going to Cambridge for doctoral studies.
Later, I was back at home, searching for the exact place where I wanted to be. Spent my whole youth yearning for that place. Mmm..
And that beautiful and charming lady in my life, from the Thomas family. Memories of the so called ‘God’s own country’. Cannot ignore that, right? She was amazing. Mmm..
Things went wrong. I became abnormal, they say. Somebody admitted me to the National Mental Health and Research Centre. Haha.. They did so many researches on me. Agnosia, Amnesia, Dementia, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease; I fell into all categories. Haha.. Poor fellows, they couldn’t figure it out. I spent nearly two decades in that place, being the object, subject, specimen and field of interest, for all what they did. You know what, they should have started a new department; “department of Subramaniamology”. Haha..
When I came out of that place, after two decades, the world outside looked so similar to that research centre.
I saw people, with wires connected to their ears, went talking to their own self. Those wires were connected to a small device on their palms, which looked like a mini television. They kept on touching it time and again, used to smile at it, show their anger to it, and some of them made faces too. I came to know, that’s how nowadays they connect with each other. Pheww.. They all looked so busy. Looked like, if they do not press those buttons for few minutes, then the planets would start moving in a different direction.
I could not find any difference between the place where I was for the last two decades and the world outside. There also, people laugh and talk on their own, smile at their own plates, shout at the windows, make faces at the chairs and keep touching things with utmost concentration. No difference at all.
The sad part of the story is, since everyone is busy connecting to someone far away, there is no one to smile at me. No one to listen to me. No one to say a ‘hi’ to me.