Parents these days are confused between getting their children onto a career track. In the earlier generations it was sort of decided by grandparents wishes or something equally abstract. Become a doctor, a lawyer, a businessman, the family tradition has to be continual. And the progeny were often given no choice. Their education was channeled into this narrow vision and they worked with singular devotion towards that goal. Often, there wasn’t any argument. What then happened in Indian education was the attention given to absorbing information and then regurgitating it verbatim, with memory retention serving most mistakenly as the measure of excellence.
This conspiracy loped along for many years after independence in a nation like India producing educational clones in what was a mass influx every year of mind numbed young men and women with skill sets severely limited to boning up facts and figures and lacking other skills.
This was the legacy my generation inherited at the turn of the century. It always surprised me that so much store was put by the marks one got and the length of one’s answers. What we failed to understand as parents, teachers and students that unless our skills were widened and given more dimension we would never really realise our full potential.
What I decided to do was add that extra tier by educating myself. Through books, through films and by using sheer common sense coupled with engaging in the human experience. I had good reason for this route. Take a school of 2000 children and more. There are ten in the debating team, maybe five in elocution, perhaps twenty in a sports team and a school magazine making team of six. Not exactly a huge percentage.
Take our libraries. How many folks take out books when they can enjoy the self indulgence of whatsapp.
Into the second decade of this century came this sudden competitive surge in which schools upped the ante by turning liberal to the point of absurdity where marking was concerned. Getting a 70 was poor, an eighty an average, a ninety started the good times. This ridiculous hurtle just made a mockery of education and instead of a well rounded personality passing out through the portals of an institution we got these assembly lined products who believed in their own brilliance and were blinded by nit. Not even street smart and certainly not world smart their tunnel vision was evidence used to underscore the tenacity and exceptional nature of their educational entity. Not for a moment do they in this modern age realise that they are being condemned by a golden handshake that will not stand them in good stead in the future.
I did not have many years on earth nor, like Francis Bacon did I garner all knowledge into my province but what I did do was imbibe much more than the average teenager. So, if you are one, or the parent of one, enjoy the high markings but give your children the free rein to teach themselves and enjoy the experience rather than strive for full marks.