“Your child is excellent in all the extra-curricular activities, but she needs to improve in studies.”

This is what I keep hearing all the time. And, I dread going to the Parent Teacher meeting, as the teacher keeps ranting about how academics is more important than sports or dance, and why my daughter should be concentrating more on studies. She says that academics should be the main priority, and my daughter should be scoring more marks. Well, isn’t she right? So, why am I cribbing? Actually, how many more marks, is my question. Well, I don’t consider 75 – 80% as a bad score, especially when the child is not mugging up things, and is studying on her own. Also, when she is trying to explore all the other possibilities in life, as well, right? But, the teacher doesn’t think so.

In India, we measure success only by the number of marks that a child is getting. In that process, if the overall development of the child suffers, then so be it. How many kids come out of the education system as well-rounded people? While they have all the bookish knowledge, they lack practical experience. And, on top of that, there is always the constant pressure to excel and super excel. Do you know that the rate of depression among the younger lot has increased so much in our country, due to the pressure of studies? In fact, our country is ranked the highest in the world for suicide rates in the age group of 15 – 29 years. So, why are we building up so much of pressure on the younger lot? While some children are born brainy, the majority are average-kids, right?

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Do you think it is easy to study in our country? With the cut-off in some of the colleges getting close to 100, probably, our country expects to produce only nerds. And, what happens to people, who are below the 90 percentile? Are they less brilliant? We are actually undermining the confidence of the children, by burdening them with the need to score more and more. And, in the process, the quality of education suffers. There is always some kind of rat race, where only the winners get rewarded.

Leave alone the admission into the colleges, even getting into a nursery school is a major challenge. Yes, the pressure to compete starts at a very young age for our kids. They have to be ready to face complete strangers in the process of getting admitted into a good school. And, if the child is not able to get through in a particular school, he is reprimanded by the parents. Why is the child not allowed to be just a child? Why do we rob their innocence so early?

My poor 7 year old has to carry a school bag, which weighs about 10 kg. Though, it is not building up his muscles, it is definitely weighing him down.. The kids carry such heavy weights to the school, because there is so much to be covered in one day. They keep having all kinds of assessments throughout the year, leaving them with no time to play and recreate. In fact, my kids have tests every Monday so they have to sit and study during the weekends. Isn’t that torturous? Weekends are for relaxing, right? If a 7 year old is burdened with so much of studies, I wonder who should be doing the actual playing. I feel bad about scolding him for playing with his cars and guns, and for not putting in more efforts into studies.

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One of my daughter’s friends flunked in one of the subjects. And, she did not show her paper to her parents for almost a month. Her mother kept asking her about it and she kept telling her that she has not received it. In fact, the mother called up my daughter also to find out. So, why was she scared of telling the truth to her parents? It was because she was scared of the reactions of her parents. Naturally, all the parents want their children to be good in studies and come first. With so much of competition everywhere, the parents also cannot be blamed. Don’t we ask our kids all the time, ‘How much did that other person get? And, how come he or she is getting more marks than you?’ Take my own example. Mathematics is my favourite subject, and I really get touchy when my kids commit some silly mistakes in their Maths paper. Well, why do I fail to understand that what I find easy can be quite complicated for them?

The lines from this song of Taare Zameen Par is so apt for the kids:

Dekho inhein yeh hain os ki boondein

Patton ki god mein aasmaan se koodein

Angdaayi lein phir karwat badal kar

Nazuk se moti hans de phisal kar

Kho na jaayen ye taare zameen par

It is good to be competitive, but the competition should not become the only thing to focus on, right? Do we ever sit and ask the child if he understood what he has studied? Also, are the studies focusing on what he or she wants to do?

I also feel that the kids of this generation have to face more number of challenges than what we had to face in our childhood. This is the age of smartphones, computers and internet. With so much of distractions around, and all the CCA and CCE activities happening, kids have so much on their plate.

Why don’t we just change our education system and provide personalized education to each kid, instead of having a standard set for all? I sincerely hope that the future education system is designed in such a way that the kids will get to study what they feel like, and in the way they feel like.

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Also, we should try to focus on making the kids more confident and self-assured. They should be made capable to handle all kinds of challenges in life. Academics alone will not take them everywhere. Even a rank holder might not be able to lead a company if he does not have all those other necessary soft skills and leadership skills.

Well, God bless our country, and I hope the teacher has something better to say for my kids, the next time. 🙂

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(Pictures picked from Google)

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