Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hey Teacher! Leave us Kids Alone!

It is with great consternation that over the past few days there are a series of disturbing news of events happening in schools, on the way to schools and also preparing for school.

A cursory search in google news throws up a series of articles related to the rape of a child in Bangalore, About 18 students dying in a horrific train crash in Telangana. Finally a 3 year old child being tortured in the name of tutoring.

These incidents that are happening hundreds of kilometers apart are linked in a  ugly and subterranean manner. The simple word is callousness. Utter callousness on the part of Schools, educational boards and Political authorities.

I named this article from a song from Pink Floyds The Wall, a song which I heard in my youth and liked a lot. The lyrics of this great song are awesome and is an utter rejection of the system of education. When the entire "SYSTEM" is focussed on output in the form of completed curriculum, student ranks in the examination, number of highest ranks, number of students in IIT, CA, Medical colleges and on and on, The students are put on a treadmill from day one. Start from home travelling on rickety buses or hanging on on Dad`s motorcycle or scooter. Go to school where teachers are particular on daily curriculum movements. regurgitate the stuff on the paper, pass exam and then enter a career and then live on the salary till retirement and then...... This is the dream a very Indian dream.

Callousness happens at every spot. It is said that today in the South African mines we cannot pick a Cullinan diamond- the reason? Mining in the olden days was done on hand and diamonds were literally picked off the tunnels. Today huge machines in the tunnels crush the mud and with it diamonds into small pieces. No Cullinan diamonds only solitaires for your engagement. This metaphor is not far from the truth in the education system. The political authority is focused on quantity and not on quality. Well why have ten IITs when  you can have twenty at twice the cost (this is a modified line from the movie Contact starring Jodie Foster). The number of licenses given to open educational institutions is stupendous. This is the callousness of poor quality

The schools are looking for fast gain in the shortest time. Though they are supposed to be non profits, their financial goals are very big. So the second type of callous - of viewing students as consumers. Consumers who cost money and so have to be made money from. The number of institutions charging heavy messing charges, Hostel fees that run in the lakhs of rupees. School fees per year that cost what an earlier generation would have spent for their entire educational life.

The recent incident from Kolkata where a supposed tutor trashed a student and traumatized her parents is another form of callousness- interruption. Of teachers who view their pupils as interruptions in their lives. Teachers these days are getting paid absolutely low salaries. They carry poor self esteem. The institute they teach at insists on retaining the teachers original educational certificates. Their pay is low and one can see boredom. One just has to look at government teachers to understand the boredom.

So a student of today is caught in the callousness of poor quality education, High costs and Carelessness. 

Who is going to change this?? Can a mindset change help?

As parents we have to change our mindset about education. When we stop viewing our children as unbranded goods who will take the brand of the school/ college/IIT etc, we give our children a breather.

When we know that education means to bring out the best of the children and not in stuffing them with information, we as parents cultivate our children.

Let us not have too many high hopes on the educational "SYSTEM" and let us focus on giving our children happiness and hope.