Few days back I read a news article in Times of India (a leading Indian newspaper), a school going boy Rugved Raikwar, studying in 7th class aged 12 decided to fast demanding a reduction in the weight of school bags. That’s a mighty step from a spirited boy against the administration who is not heeding any attention towards this core issue. A glance at this incidence took me years back down the memory lane. We as school going students suffered the same thing, carrying bags heavy as hell. To make the matters worse the walking distance from bus stop to home was long, Indian summers made the path a bit more longer and a house at fourth floor of the building without lifts, just imagine the plight of us poor kids. Well going through this piece of news makes me think few other incidents which are not directly in-line with this “weighty” issue but definitely carries a lot weight.
I think it was in the year 2005. I used to work as a kindergarten teacher for kids aged between 4-5 years. A father of a student came to meet me during a parent teacher meeting and asked me if his daughter is doing well in studies, if she is a first rank holder in the class or not. I was taken aback by the thought process of that parent. Ranking? That too for kids at that tender age, Seriously? I told him “Sir why are you even thinking of ranks at first place. You should be happy that your daughter is good; good in studies, good in every activity; she is active, well-behaved and a friendly child. Why do you want to quote everything in rank? Please relax and never put undue pressure on your child”. This is a very common scenario thriving under the current education system. Competition is thy name and pressure is thy child of competition.
Parents always want to see their kids excel in everything they do. And their studies occupy a major portion of parents’ worry agenda. This makes them plan everything for kids well in advance. If you notice here everything is as per parents’ wish – they want, they plan, they execute and eventually they pressurize. I have seen parents so much obsessed with their kids performance that they don’t even abstain from interfering in their project works as well which are meant to be finished by kids only. So much is involvement that they start from scratch and take it to finish. Is it right? I remember a particular incident where I called one of my uncle to inform them that I have progressed to next academic year with good marks, the first question he asked me what’s your rank. When he came to know I stood fourth in class, he was upset and couldn’t congratulate me properly. This kind of behaviour either from parents or relatives, these expectations burden the students with loads and loads of pressure. Few could take it and many others succumb to it. Who should we blame for this. If parents are asked their point of view they feel its their duty to make sure their kids have secured future and according to them ranks secure future. So there is nothing wrong in pushing the limits for their kids even if it results building pressure on their kids. To confront this theory I have examples of many geniuses, in fact people from my friend circle who are not rank holders but are doing extremely well in their lives better than many rank holders out there. Sometimes it also makes me wonder if most of the cheating cases where students are caught cheating in exams are an offshoot of such pressure only. Ok, nothing justifies a wrong deed 🙂
Such is the pressure to win the rat race on parents (passed on to children most effectively) that this gives an open field to coaching institutions to cash their fears. Parents often blinded by their dreams for their children and the big hoardings boasting of magnificent results that they easily give in to the meaningless demands (read humongous fee) of these coaching centres who claim to prepare students for future. But I have my doubts. In few parts of the country (southern part of country especially one state where I have noticed the trend, I am talking about Andhra Pradesh – one of the Indian state) students spend nearly half of their day in schools/ colleges which simultaneously and tirelessly prepare them to crack engineering exams right from the word go. Every second child I met in the state wants to be an engineer invariably even if their deepest desire is to do theatre. That just amazes me if not drives crazy. So much is the pressure that recreation is not all a part of their curriculum.
To make sure that their targets in terms of percentage scored/ degree holders passing out institutions are relying more on mugging up techniques rather than laying a stronger foundation that could happen only when concepts are clear. That reminds me of a famous Bollywood movie “3 Idiots” which depicts how success would follow if you are able and follow your heart. Another movie which I thought is worth mentioning in regard to this discussion is “Accepted” where a bunch of students off from school scoring very low percentages and rejected “n” number of times by different colleges, about to be bogged down by expectations of their parents they start a bogus institution which soon becomes a hub for every student rejected by every college only to be “accepted” here. This movie gives away a beautiful message that there are so many things to do in life apart from doing a regular degree course and be age-old certified professional. It’s all about knowing where your heart is, what’s your passion and follow it, nothing can stop you.
It’s high time that parents should realize that thrusting their desires and expectations on their children could spell disaster for them. Give them a breathing space. Desiring to see your children excel is not wrong but to want them to excel in profession you desire could be atrocious. So much so that it could even force them to take extreme steps like suicide. Numbers prove it. I don’t want to get into numbers for I am no statistician. Just want to say take it easy to make it easy for your kids.