Education Autobiography | Akshansh Chaudhary
Education has played a vital role in defining who I am as a person. This is my story of how I came to be as someone who is true to the world, favors good habits, likes to learn, and wants a simpler world.
My childhood was ordinary: I used to lie, cheat in tests, was not punctual to classes, and as a result, did not consider myself as a “good boy.” All that changed in an instant.
I was in my fifth grade Science class in DPS Pinjore, waiting for my scores on a class test. When we got our papers, I saw that I had scored 14 out of 15 and was satisfied with the result. Then, one of my friends, Arpit Garg, found a mistake in the correction and pointed out that my score should be lower than what our teacher, Smriti Kaila, had graded. He told me that he would get my marks deducted.
Instead of making him go, I confronted the teacher, pointing the mistake in her correction. Having had the habit of cheating in tests, facing a teacher like that was very unusual for me to do. What happened after that changed my course of life. She acknowledged my truthfulness in reaching out to her and instead of reducing my marks, changed the score to 15/15. Additionally, she wrote “Very Truthful” next to the answer sheet.
Those two words had a profound impact on me. I decided that from that moment, I won’t lie or cheat and would live up to the truthfulness my teacher sees in me. And just like that, I changed and never looked back.
As my school years went by, I extended on my will of being a good person. I developed an image of a child who never lies, doesn’t cheat in tests, goes to morning walk at 3 am, meditates, and someone who strives to be perfect (the ideal child, as I used to call it). For a 10-year-old who spent his time watching Pokémon and Shaktimaan on television, this commitment felt like a revelation and a cleansing of all the consciously unjustified actions I had done in the past.
“You’ve got full.”
In the years that followed this incident, I was periodically tested for my truthfulness.
In my tenth grade Physics Lab, I was writing my test when I overheard one of the students reciting the answer while writing their test (turns out some students like to speak and write). I had not written my response until then, and since I had heard the answer, I wrote it.
Immediately after I submitted the test, I was guilty conscious of having cheated and violated my principles. It sounds silly when I think about it now, but I was with a heavy heart back then, like there was a burden on my shoulders that I wanted to be lifted off. I was walking down the stairs, pondering over the incident and the feeling of guilt with every step I took.
In an instant, I decided to let it out. I went back to the lab to tell the teacher that I had mistakenly cheated and they must reduce my marks. I was almost controlling my tears as I was narrating this incident. She smiled and said, “You’ve got full.”
I don’t know why I don’t tend to get charged for the crimes I commit, but I am always willing to stand up for what I do wrong. Moments like these have made my will stronger to continue to stay on this path. I feel relieved when I have nothing to lie about. And since I have crossed my emotional barrier several times, I understand emotional freedom. So, I value feelings and emotions above everything else.
My brother questions me what I would do when faced with an ethical or social dilemma. I respond that I don’t know how not to be true to myself and others. Relations build on honesty.
“Learn. Share. Repeat.”
Having received the viewpoint to look beyond test score in exams, I started caring less about the marks I got and more focused on what I was learning. This allowed me to appreciate the knowledge and be excited about uncomplicating the mysteries of academia. I started asking questions – a lot of questions. I wanted to know everything. Learning became fun for me. I remember several instances from my undergraduate degree at BITS Pilani, Dubai, when my friends had to hold me still for the entire class duration because I couldn’t stop myself from jumping in excitement every time I learned something new.
Knowledge became so exciting for me that I started talking about it. Gradually, the talks formalized into conversations, which then took the shape of lectures and tutorial sessions. And before I knew it, I found myself teaching my friends in school – in the library, during class, in my hostel room - everywhere. For me, teaching felt like a creative exercise of sharing my passion and excitement with the world.
I was a rigorous note-taker. In addition to teaching, I started sharing my handwritten notes with my classmates, which gained enough traction that I developed a website to share my knowledge with them and the world (Akshansh.net/notes).
What would you expect in your first studio class in a design school? A discussion in which every student introduces their background and interests? That’s what I had expected. Instead, as our first Major Studio class started, our instructor, Mohini Dutta, asked us to create a “sculpture” which represents us. As cool as it sounds, I was clueless in the beginning. Still, I was smiling because I was fascinated by the approach of thinking outside the box. After discussion with Mohini, I understood the meaning of sculpture and created a short film representing myself.
In one occasion, I came to the class prepared to talk about my project direction, and the instructor made us throw post-it notes on each other and combine random ideas to diversify our thoughts. Some may think that such activities are pointless. But innovation doesn’t come from doing a desk job 12 hours a day and thinking about your retirement plans.
With every class, I have continued to have *lightbulb* moments which made me explore the fun outside of the standard education system that I was exposed to. MFADT (short for MFA Design + Technology) has allowed me to be open about creation and think of design as a practice rather than a tool.
In just six months, I have had more moments of joy than I can count. I generate ideas when I’m walking on the streets, waiting for the subway, reading a book, watching films, anywhere and everywhere. It’s like not needing a platform or situation to think.
Education has had more than an influence on my life. I cannot thank enough every teacher, friend, and family member who has been a part of this journey. Although I have just started, I am content with what I have earned. I don’t desire financial gain. I seek the chest of knowledge. My curiosity and interest in learning would continue to diversify my thinking as the world transforms into this technology-intensive generation.
 I have been told (warned) that it’s not a good thing to not care about money in today’s world.