ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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‘Non-academic’ Genius

I found the column “The Pottery of Physics” by Kamala Mukunda and Venkatesh Onkar (EPW, 2 December 2017) to be an extremely interesting observation about the neglect of ways of learning other than the so-called “academic” learning.

My younger brother showed a precocity towards “non-verbal” creativity from a young age. Despite being born into a Brahmin family that valued only the scholarship of books, he used to invent many contraptions. He created a working transmission with just two wires, invented a machine to convert waste polyvinyl chloride (PVC) into auto cables, and converted waste plastic into a garden hose with another machine he invented. He even invented a coffee roaster with a simple assemblage of a cylinder mounted onto an electric stove. Yet, he found no marketing agencies to pick up these innovative ideas. He could repair any machine, be it a scooter, auto, or mixer. My brother possessed what is called “kinesthetic” intelligence, and would intuitively understand the principle behind any contraption. He could do the job of a mason, an electrician, or a plumber, and even pursued carpentry on his own. When he built his house, he performed all these roles himself. Yet the family always belittled him for being “non-academic.” He learnt a lot on his own—to this day he can explain any scientific principle very clearly. He is fluent in many languages and can speak them like a local. Today, he watches science channels on TV and can explain to us what he has learnt, so lucidly.

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