I’ve always wondered how much of what we learnt at school we need in our daily lives. And what part of what we learnt at school remains with us forever. Is it what our teachers spent hours reading out of our textbooks? Or is it what we mugged up for our annual exams and blurted on the paper? Or is it the bits and pieces of life gyan that your friends and sometimes teachers pass on to you?
You often hear people criticizing the education system in this country of ours. But this criticism has been restrained to merely calling out the ruling party’s shortcomings rather than an actual concern over the manner in which we as a society have been and continue to bring up the future generation. What exactly are we doing wrong here? Every child in his formative years is TAUGHT to decide between a career in either engineering or medicine. The year is 2016 and yet, it takes even the educated sections of society to look beyond these (and a few other limited options) when it comes to deciding what their child does for a living. We often forget that the choice ultimately must rest with the child – it is he who has to pursue it for the rest of his/her life. This topic is an often debated one, and almost always, people, especially parents, admit that children should be allowed to pursue a career of their choice. But when the time comes, for your child to make the all-important step, you step in and make decisions. Hypocrisy much? Being students who just (probably) made these life changing decisions less than a year ago, I think we are best placed to talk about what and why things go wrong.
A lot of countries other than our own, offer the opportunity to students to pick and choose the subjects of their liking rather than from a handful of predesigned combinations which almost always, needn’t be the right mix for each student – one that caters to their needs or gives them the right launch to the career of their choice. But wait, whose choice? And is there really a choice if you are to choose between two heads (with their diverse sub divisions, no offence)?
If every person on the planet pursued a handful of jobs, how can we build a sustainable world? Where will all the creativity and art go? It cannot be asserted that any field of work does not involve the creative mind – it does, but at the same time, imagine a world without artists, singers, poets and dancers? Wanting a secure future for your ward is an understandable concern, but the means you seek to achieve the same is of utmost importance, isn’t it? In the process of ensuring that you child has a bright prospects ahead of him, most parents and teachers forget the other talents in the child that undergo a slow death. The child himself may not realize this initially, but eventually when he does, the heartbreak and sense of loss is irreparable. Does the end that the assignments given to us seek to achieve ever materialize? Certainly not. Copy-paste of the internet is the way to go when you have a deadline; not much to learn about that, is there.
Another major indicator of the failure of education system has to most definitely be the system of marking for attendance (Both authors have very strong thoughts about this – do check their attendance records for proof). Having to threaten students with a bar on writing exams to ensure that the professors don’t end up teaching an empty classroom is pitiful.
What happened to the age-old gurukul system that we had with students residing with their gurus and learning all about life under their guidance? We often boast about the Indian culture and its traditions, we remind the younger generations to hold on to it, but why do we, ourselves not do the same? In a haste to ape the West, we turned a blind eye to the fact that they were constantly bettering themselves, to develop a more accommodating system to ensure that they bring out the best in their youth.
What about the innumerable student suicides that fill our newspapers? They grab media attention for a couple of days but eventually things are back to square one. Be it the 31 suicides over a year in Kota – arguably the go-to place to ‘secure’ your future, the very place that manufactures a far from significant number of children who have lost all hope in life culminating in either suicide or sever clinical depression. Ironic, don’t you think? The looming dream of IIT over the heads of every middle-class family of India, the distasteful reaction to a child pursuing a career in social sciences, the ever so meted out second degree treatment to Arts and other courses are all testimony to the attitude of the people on this regard.
Every child of 12 or 13 in India today grows up in an atmosphere that teaches him to limit his thought process to lucrative paychecks and job security, but isn’t it high time we let them know that there is so much in life beyond their career choice? That their grades are not reflective of their abilities nor a measure of education? That they may not always make the right decisions but never fail to learn from their mistakes? That even the sky is, quite literally, not the limit?
Maybe it’s high time we look into what’s wrong and fix it if we are to realize our former president Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s dream of India being a super power by 2020. What say?