Once upon a time, there was an island called the ‘Land of the Sun’. People of all shapes, sizes and appearances lived there. Everybody knew everybody and they were like one big happy family. But slowly, as time passed, the children grew bigger and had more children who grew bigger and had more children. Things reached a stage where there were so many people in the island that not everybody knew everybody else. People started doing their own things, talking in their own languages and writing their own scripts. So the elders of the island came together and decided to open a school where the children could be taught about the history, geography, rules, rituals and languages of the people of the ‘Land of the Sun’. However, when it came to deciding on the teacher, the group of elders was equally divided between two of the candidates – Ms. Know-it-all and Ms. Find-it-out. Since they couldn’t decide on which candidate to go with, and being an amicable group of people, the elders decided to have two schools, each being run by the two candidates. The islanders then sent their children to the schools of their choices. Misses Know-it-all and Find-it-out ran their schools very differently from each other. As a matter of fact, they were poles apart in their methods of teaching. Miss Know-it-all was a total disciplinarian who believed that children should be only seen and not heard. Unless, they were asked a question and they were replying to it. Her belief was simple. She was there to ask questions and the children were there to answer it, after she had taught them the lesson. And god forbid, if they were to disagree with any of her teachings. You see, the children were not allowed to think. On the other hand, Ms. Find-it-out believed that she did not have all the answers. So everybody was allowed to ask questions and everybody tried to find the answers, individually or together. Slowly, the islanders became aware of this distinction and started taking sides. They broke up the island into two different zones and built up a wall so that one set of people did not interact with the others. Time passed and the children grew bigger. They in turn had children who went to the same schools. People on one side of the island came to be called ‘Know-it-all’ and people on the other side of it ‘Find-it-outs’. But as the population grew, the space available for the people to live in got smaller and smaller. Till one day the people in the ‘Know-it-alls’ land had no standing space. As they pushed and shoved each other, the wall dividing them from the people of the ‘Find-it-out’ just gave way. The wall broke down and the two divided people looked at each other for the first time in the century. And what did they see? The people of the ‘Find-it-out’ land saw a whole lot of identical looking people staring at them with similar expressions on their faces. These were the ‘Know-it-alls’.
They had the smug expressions on their faces which suggested that if there were something to know, they knew of it and whatever they didn’t know, was not worth knowing anyway. They were all similarly dressed, moved identically and gasped together, as though on cue. Also, they were cramped together like a pack of sardines in their part of the island. Except for their ages reflected in their physical condition, they could all have been copies of each other! On the other hand, the people of the land of ‘Know-it-all’ discovered that the ‘Find-it-outs’ were very different. Not just from them but also from each other. They wore different coloured costumes, had different expressions on their faces, moved differently, talked differently and behaved in a manner that was not at all alike. What they also saw was the difference in the physical lands. Whilst the land of ‘Know-it-all’ was full of nothing but human beings, the land of ‘Find-it-out’ had its entire space planned out. There were areas for playing, schooling, working and housing. They were not cramped. And they did not seem to be too many people! The people from the land of ‘Know-it-all’ wondered how things had turned out so differently in their two lands. Their elders came forward and enquired of the elders of the land of the ‘Find-it-out’ as to how they had managed to be so diverse and still be apparently happy and prosperous. The friendly elders of the land of ‘Find-it-out’ called on their aging teacher and requested her to share the secret of their prosperity. The teacher smiled and said, ‘Oh! We have a simple way of living and teaching .’ And this is how she described it.
‘If you don’t know ask a question seek an answer and you’ll find one. WHO will tell you of the people WHY will give you a reason HOW will tell of the manner And WHEN of the duration. WHAT describes, well, what happened! WHERE describes destination. So we learn and so we progress And the whole life’s an education.’ She said that her pupils had gone all over the world with their questions and come back with answers that helped them in better living. The ‘Know-it-alls’ realised that there was a lot more in the world that they did not know of. And it helped to share knowledge and ask questions. It was not a sign of ignorance but an indication of a desire to know more! They promised never to build a wall again between the two lands and decided to share their knowledge. Today, the ‘Know-it-alls’ and the ‘Find-it-outs’ look very similar to each other, and are very different from one another. If you don’t know what that means, ask a question!
By Vibha Singh ; Illustrations by Anup Singh