He said, “I feel for you. I understand you. What you are saying is right. But right is not the question; the question is what is acceptable, what the knowledgeable people recognize as right.”
But Dr. Ranade really proved to be a man of integrity. He gave me ninety-nine percent and wrote a special note to the vice-chancellor mentioning that the note should be shown to me. And the note was: “You shocked me as nobody ever has. But your answers were original, and you did not care at all whether you were going to pass or fail. You were so total in each of your answers that it was irrelevant what happened to be the result. I loved your totality, I loved your intensity, I loved your originality – and for the first time I have come across a student I have been waiting for.”
The vice-chancellor called me. My teacher said, “Some note against you must have come because the papers have come back. I am coming with you.” And when he saw the note he could not believe it. He said, “Today I can say that miracles happen. I was thinking you were going to get zero, and you have ninety-nine percent!”
And Dr. Ranade had mentioned in his note, “I was going to give you one hundred percent but that may look as if I am favoring you too much; that’s why I have taken off the one percent. It is not that something is wrong in your answers, it is just my old habit, a lifelong habit of cutting. I cannot do much, but at least I can take off one percent.”
I enjoyed my student life immensely. Whether people were against me, for me, indifferent, loved me…all those experiences were beautiful. All that helped me immensely when I myself became a teacher, because I could see the students’ viewpoint simultaneously when I was presenting mine.
And my classes became debating clubs. Everybody was allowed to doubt, to argue. Once in a while somebody started worrying about what would happen to the course, because on each single point there was so much argument.
I said, “Don’t be worried. All that is needed is a sharpening of your intelligence. The course is a small thing – you can read for it in one night. If you have a sharp mind, even without reading for it you can answer. But if you don’t have a sharp mind, even the book can be provided to you and you will not be able to find where the answer is. In a five hundred page book the answer must be somewhere in one paragraph.”
In Russia they have already experimented with it, and they have made significant conclusions. They allow students to carry as many books as they want. They allow students to ask the teacher in the examination hall, “I need a certain book.” Immediately it will be brought from the library.
Their understanding is that the old kind of examination was only an examination of the memory; now this is an examination of your intelligence. You have to find an answer – and you can find it only if you have studied, argued, known those books. Only then can you find the answer. In a dozen books you cannot immediately find the question and its answer.