Our AsphyxiatingEducation System

Vandana Bhasin - 29 May 2018

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”- Nelson Mandela

 

 

Education is the backbone of any society. It is a seed of hope that we nurture to secure the future of our children and society.

 

But are we really content with our education system?

 

Is our education system “the ideal”?

 

Is this institution, which beholds the breath of the lives of so many children, capable of culminating/ producing/ grooming individuals to be the leaders of tomorrow?

 

Has our education system been able to keep pace with the technological developments in the world in the last few decades?

 

Does our education system truly accentuate the talent, abilities and creativity of the children rather than just trying to produce nerds?

 

And the most important question that I wish to ruminate in this article- isn’t thesignificantly growing number of suicide cases among children alarming for the society?

 

We read about these cases in newspapers everyday but do we care to do something about these?

 

We just feel upset for those few minutesand then get back to our routines as if nothing ever happened.

 

Have we ever tried to analyze the reasons for such actions?

 

Do we realize our responsibility as adult members of this society to take steps to prevent this act of weakness and helplessness?

 

Suicide”- the sound of the word itself creates shivers and numbness in our mind.

 

Then why are the teenagers of this so-called sophisticated, modern, independent, solution oriented andtechnologically advanced society allured into it?

 

Doesn’t it fuel some serious questions in our minds about our parenting and the education system and value system of our society?

 

I tried to analyze a few of the reasons as per my understanding and experience, though I am not an expert at parenting nor am I a psychologist.One may or may not agree to my views but they are certainly worth a thought.

 

  1. Perfection Syndrome:

 

 

I have always believed that perfection is a perception. It is inappropriate to use the word “perfect” for human beings. Perfection is highly subjective, as one person’s idea of perfection will never align with other person’s thoughts around it. Then why are we so obsessed with “being perfect?”

 

Have you ever imagined the plight of parents when their young, studious, hardworking and bright child succumbs to this drastic end when he or she is unable to cope up with the burden of perfection?

 

We are living in a society where scoring 100%or around 100% (don’t you dare go below 95%!) in all subjects is considered as the rule of the game else you can forget about seeking admission in a college/university of your choice.

 

Really?

 

I mean a 100% or a 99%in allthe subjects?

 

You mean that the child is not allowed to commit even a single mistake in those three hours? And mind you, falling sick on exam day can prove highly fatal too!

 

So, the child should be perfect in English, the language; Mathematics, the logic and calculations as well as in his/her chosen stream- science/commerce/humanities!

 

Wow! Today’s children are genius, I must say or an entirely different breed!

 

Can you imagine the kind of pressure the child is bearing in his/her mind when he/she appears for the examination with an expectation given by us that he/she has to score a 100% or near 100%?

 

Do you really think that he/she will be able to put in his/her best under such persuasive circumstances?

 

And then we even have the audacity of scolding/reprimanding the child if he/she is unable to score as per our expectations!

 

Are we grooming our children to become robots or machines?

 

I guess we are forgetting that they were born as humans!

 

I understand that we want to secure our child’s future but if he/she doesn’t score a perfect 100 or above 95, is his/her future doomed?

 

Will all his learning go waste if he fails those three hours?

 

Is our education system really doing justice to the hard work and brilliance of lakhs of students?

 

Are we forcing the child to consider such a drastic step as suicide by making him feel like a failure?

 

We instruct them all the dos’s and don’ts but we forget to advise them that life doesn’t end if they score a little less. The world is full of opportunities, if only we step out to seek them. Depression/humiliation/scolding over score will only shake the confidence of a brilliant child.

 

And aren’t we also disregarding the challenges we faced as children while studying in our own times?

 

Did anyone ever score a 100% or even 95% in all subjects in our times? I guess, no.

 

Then how did this bar of assessment get stretched so far in last 20 years?

 

Who has raised this measure of evaluation to such levels that children are struggling to attainand if they omit, then not only the society buteven the children consider themselves as failure?

 

Who is a failure here- the child who commits suicide, the parents who lost their child, the society that issues guidelines or the education system that has made education so competitive?

 

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Doesn’t English language define degrees of comparison as “Good/Better/Best”?

 

Then what is “better than the best”?

 

What kind of a standard are we aiming at?

 

Are we so obsessed with perfection that we cannot accept anything beyond a perfect child? Time to ponder I guess!

 

 

  1. All rounder Syndrome:

 

 

Here comes another diktat of the society.

 

A child who is not only a master of his studies but is an all rounder!

 

This signifies that he excels in sports; wins a medal or two in debates as well; is emotionally strong; socially active; technologically updated; even able to swing his body to popular musical beats; aware of his surroundings and the list goes on.

 

The poor child, who gets up at dawn, is unable to rest till dusk.

 

We forget that he is still a teenager dependent on us!

 

By putting him to test on so many parameters, we feel we are making him strong to face the challenges of life.

 

Are we, really?

 

Yes, it might be true of a fewchildren (God gifted or prodigies, as we address them) but then those are just a handful of kids. How can we commit the mistake of keeping it as a measure of evaluation of every child’s success?

 

Are we not supposed to run the capability test?

 

Are we not expected to check their interests?

 

In an effort to give him exposure to every thing in life, we are either creating a confusing personality or a child who would always look for options or backup in life. I have qualms about his focus and commitment too.

 

Have you ever seen a single employee handling all the management functions in a company? We have different departments and different resources for Admin, HR, Marketing, Finance, Operations and Customer Service. Why does the same person not handle all functions?

 

This is because each function needs specialization and we do not expect one person to possess all the capabilities. Isn’t it? So much so that even occasionally handling some matters out of our realm or expertise, ignites our fury and dissatisfaction for our employer.

 

Then how and why we expect little children to excel in everything?

 

Is it really fair? Do think about it!

 

 

  1. Comparison Syndrome!

 

He is better than you!

 

Another weapon which parents relentlessly use to pressurize their kids.

 

If the kids do not live up to our expectations, we start comparing them to other kids. Don’t we?

 

“If Hardik can score a perfect, why can’t you? Does he eat something special?”

 

“Mahima goes for football classes;Tanu for chess and robotics;Archit takes cricket and tennis coaching;Arnav knows swimming and skating. His mom said he’s a great artist too.”

 

Mahima or Archit might be sports freak but your child is not! Each child is unique in his own way! Mahima is Mahima and Archit is Archit. They all arespecial with different capabilities, quite the same way as you are different from Mahima’s father or Archit’s mom!

 

By equating our child with other children, we are undermining his abilities and personality. It’s an indication to the child that he stands small in front of peers. This is a huge setback to child’s self-esteem who fails to comprehend this bar of excellence.

 

Comparison is the root of inferiority/superiority complex, which in turn infuses competition, jealousy, ego, pride and all negativities in a child’s personality. We must accept each child’s individuality and groom him accordingly. Comparison is a labyrinth that traps the child forever.

 

Comparison kills the idea and creativity at the conception stage itself!

 

 

 

  1. Family Tradition Syndrome

 

 

Here comes a new arrow aimed at child’s aspirations.

 

Some people force their children to pursue a trade or profession in the name of family tradition. An engineer father wishes his children to pursue engineering while a chartered accountant pushes his children to commerce. Even more popular is the tradition of taking over family business leaving the child with little option to explore or pursue his interests.

 

Social status wins over the dreams of the children!

 

Some children adopt retaliation as a strategy; some adhere to their parent’s dominance while some others who are unable to see their dreams being crushed mercilessly even consider radical steps as ending their own life.

 

Is it fair to sacrifice a life in the name of family tradition?

 

Is our tradition and hollow belief more valuable than our child’s life?

 

Can we imagine a world without music, sports, dance, art, theatre, entertainment, literature, poetry, fashion designing etc?

 

If we prohibit our children from pursuing a career in these areas then who will replace and promote Picasso, Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci, ViratKohli, SaniaMirza, Emily Dickinson, Paulo Coelho and the like?

 

According to John Dewey, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, then we rob our children of tomorrow.”

 

Time to reflect on our thought system!

 

 

  1. A Harbinger of my dreams!

 

Contrary to above, here’s a set of parents who couldn’t pursue their passions.

 

Some parents have this earnest desire of making their child a puppet of their dreams. They want their child to pursue their unaccomplished career. Why?

 

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But he isn’t even aware that his daughter, who is so creative and sharp, dreams to be a fashion designer. She has no interest in programming languages! Moreover, why is he forgetting that he’s doing the same thing with his child that his father did to him!

 

Why do we try to live our lives through their lives?

 

Why do we wish to fulfill our dreams and expectations through them?

 

Whatever we couldn’t do as a child, we start expecting from our children.

 

Then how and when will they fulfill their own dreams? Through their children again? Is it some kind of a ritual that we will pass on to our successors over generations?

 

We, as parents, definitely have the right and the responsibility to decide the future of our children but can’t we act as guide and mentor rather than dictators?

 

Can’t we support and stand by our children in their efforts for accomplishment of their dreams?

 

Shouldn’t we respect their choice/preference as well?

 

 

 

  1. Technology at Play

 

We are living in 21st century where a person’s worth is judged by the number and brand of gadgets that he/she possesses and the number of times his social media status is updated. Then how can we expect our children to be reclusive?

 

This category of children, called Gen Z kids, spend most of their time with friends or gadgets, clicking and uploading selfies and party pictures and updates about their personal lives, at times betraying the trust of their parents.

 

When their brainy pals are burning the midnight oil, these Gen Z kids are enjoying night-outs on pretext of joint studies. So far so good but the problem arises when exam time approaches, as all their lies now come to light with their results!

 

Not only would they be unable to face and explain their parents but they would also be let down in front of their friends! This concoction of fear and shame provokes them to act beyond their limits.

 

I fail to understand who is at fault here. We cannot restrain the growth of the civilization but shouldn’t we focus moreon mechanisms to ensure the restricted use or exposure to children?

 

Internet has become a child’s play. A service which is supposed to aid the progression of mankind and create a pool of knowledge, has it’s own ramifications. There is hardly a way that we can prevent children from misusing the service and curtailing its use to age-appropriate information.

 

Inference:

 

I would conclude by saying that parenting has become one of the most challenging tasks these days. To strike a balance between your own aspirations and the dreams and desires of children in a world where everything is accessible at fingertips, is indeed perplexing.

 

But nevertheless, we must protect, support and guide our children, as they will determine the course of our society in future. Teaching them life skills for their emotional growth and sustainability is equally desirable so that they are apt athandling situations of distress and anxiety.

 

Children are our future and it’s our responsibility to steer them to right path by playing the role of their friend, mentor and a trustworthy coach.

 

Let’s strategize to earn the trust of our children rather than designing plans to turn them into insensitive and mechanized robots. Let’s work towards strengthening our relationship to such an extent that we become their first point of contact for addressing any concerns.

 

Let’s remember these words of Albert Einstein:

 

“Everyone is genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid!”

 

 

                                                                        ©Vandana Bhasin

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