Former President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam quoted this poem – The Student’s Prayer , while expressing his views on the need for creativity in our classrooms. The young son of a Chilean biologist, Umberto Maturana, became unhappy at school because he felt his teachers were making it impossible for him to learn. They wanted to teach him what they knew, rather than drawing out what he needed to learn. As a result Maturana wrote “ The Student’s Prayer”, of which this translation is an abridged version. It perfectly expresses the intelligent individual’s response to the conforming pressures of parents, teachers, bosses or the crowd.
The Student’s Prayer
by Umberto Maturana, July 2007
Don’t impose on me what you know,
I want to explore the unknown
And be the source of my own discoveries.
Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery.
The world of your truth can be my limitation;
Your wisdom my negation.
Don’t instruct me; let’s walk together.
Let my richness begin where yours ends.
Show me so that I can stand
On your shoulders.
Reveal yourself so that I can be
You believe that every human being
Can love and create.
I understand, then, your fear
When I ask you to live according to your wisdom.
You will not know who I am
By listening to yourself.
Don’t instruct me; let me be.
Your failure is that I be identical to you.