[2 of 2]...Part 1
I lived in a dormitory in the US. There, in early 1999, I was chatting with a friend when the book he was holding caught my attention. I asked him to hand me the paperback. My eyes were fixed on the cover.
It was him.
"Who is this?" I asked.
"Richard Feynman," my friend replied.
In one part of the first book Feynman described his teaching experience in Brazil. There, he could ask the students a question from the textbook and they would have the answer in full. Though, they didn't know what the answer meant.
"That's exactly like my school in Saudi Arabia!" I mentally screamed. The students there can vomit out encyclopedic amounts of information on biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics without knowing what any of it means or how it works.
Our principal in the Pakistani school was a math teacher. He would punish those who scored less than 50% on a quiz or a test; a heavy stick was brought down on open palms. There was zero explanation about the math problems on the test afterwards. Understanding the subject was immaterial--what mattered was that we could somehow fit the solution in our heads. And if we couldn't, then it would be, literally, beaten into us.
Imagine what that does to the younger generation. Learning is never associated with understanding the world. Instead, education becomes synonymous with pain and humiliation.
I was one of the lucky few. I came to America where I could see how infinitely better education could be.
Those Brazilians were lucky as well: Feynman observed and constructively criticized their broken system. Sadly, someone like Feynman wouldn't be welcome in Saudi Arabia. Why? Jews are not allowed in the Kingdom. One can't even bring books authored by Jews in Saud's Arabia--the custom officials confiscate them.
Yet, here was a single Yahoodi who towered above the Muslim thugs who masqueraded as teachers in my Pakistani school. Feynman, from the grave, taught me more about life than all of those barbarians combined.
Feynman had the freedom to ask, decipher, probe and question the world around him. In addition, the curious character passed on his brilliant insights to his pupils. After reading those two books, I could not only see but comprehend the intellectual and moral superiority of Western Civilization.
In the documentary that I watched in Arabia, there was a scene in which a student of Feynman relayed a small talk.
Feynman had cancer. A few days before his surgery, this student was feeling distressed. Feynman asked, "What's the matter?"
"You're having this surgery...you could die."
Feynman replied, "Yeah, that bugs me too."
After a few moments, Feynman said, "I have taught a lot of people. There's a small part of me in them."
"So...I won't really go away."