modern education, school bags and similar burdens

(photo credits – Johnny Hawkins,

There is a statement in physics – of which I am not quite sure, owing to my excellent memory – but which, in a nutshell, goes like this: the total entropy of the universe is constantly increasing, approaching infinity. Now for someone who does not have a background in physics – and if you are like me, even for someone who has a background in physics – this statement might find no practical application or exemplification and may seem utter nonsense. I agree with you since that is precisely how it should seem (probably because that’s what physics is all about). However, there is one startlingly simple case where this constantly increasing clause may apply well and make clear sense:

Modern Education. Or in simpler terms, the weight of the school-bag.

Thanks to the fact that the metropolis I reside in is thickly populated and thanks also to the fact that I commute by bus during the peak hours (office and school-goers aplenty), I have to travel in buses that are already squeezed beyond their limits. In this commotion, a couple of little children would squeeze their way in the bus, towards a seemingly free space right in the centre of the bus. That seemingly free space is, of course, a mirage anyway but that’s beside the point. In their attempt to reach that spot, they’d cause a ripple of disturbance and in the wake of that ripple you’d find out: strapped to their backs, is the burden of modern education.

It is a well-known fact that every year or so, a change of syllabus is witnessed in most schools. More often than not, it is the addition of new matter into the books that are already heavy. Sometimes, there is the occasional removal of old concepts that became obsolete a decade ago, but it is certainly accompanied by the addition of new concepts like – note this very carefully – basic quantum physics. Like the petrol hike where the government would first increase Rs 5 and then make a huge show of reducing Re 1 years later, the books, the content within them and the prescribed syllabus undergo a change which is best described by the phrase – constantly increasing.

Whether this ends up in a first-grader speaking about the Bohr-Einstein debates or not is definitely not the point we are after. What we are really bothered about is the weight of the school bag which has grown to disproportionate levels making it weigh twice as much as the weight of the little boy or girl who carries it. Like the value of the entropy of the universe, the school-bag has become heavier, denser and voluminous. Classwork notebooks, Assignment notebooks, Homework notebooks, textbooks with at least two volumes, a rough note that more or less looks like the classwork – and to top these all, a school diary which too seems to be affected by the laws of entropy – seem to constitute the average school-bag.

Despite any change – or the absence of it – it is always parents who complain about the school bags because the children are always in a state of evolution which makes them capable of carrying the “eternally-becoming-heavier” heavy-weights. Scientists once declared that little black ants have the ability to carry fifty times their weight. In a few more evolutionary cycles, humans themselves would be able to do it – all thanks to the school bag and modern education. 😉

Modern education and weight of school-bags – to infinity and beyond!