The last post on this blog was written a good three months ago. That’s 90 days of neglecting an intense attempt to revolutionize the way children in CBSE schools in India are graded and evaluated for their performance. One might think that I’m getting ahead of myself here, but touching even one node of this complex mess, is no less than waking a sleeping giant. I found myself at the bottom of the ocean, still diving down, because there is no bottom to begin with. There is no landing ground. You can push, you can pull, you can swim, you can wade the current, but its never ending. This, among other reasons is why I decided to take a nice big break, pull my neck out of the water, breathe in some oxygen, freshen my mind—maybe look at the world ashore to help me innovate under water.
In any revolution, it is (obviously) important to know and believe in two things. One, what the revolution is against, and two, what is it that the revolution aims to achieve. But when we’re dealing with an ultra-complex system such as education, with its multi dimensional set of issues and consequences, far reaching beyond school, and no clear right answers, its hard to pinpoint why we’re doing what we’re doing, to what end, and most importantly, if it would even have any (desired) impact.
I’m not one to get intimidated by the complexity of the issue at hand, but I’m merely acknowledging it. And lately, I’ve begun to believe that most complex systems when broken down to their bare essence, have focal points that are extremely simple, devoid of any other link or attachment. They stand on their own, and cannot be broken down any further.
The education system in India is essentially geared to making sure that when children grow up, they get jobs—and this is what parents want for their kids as well. There is no emphasis on what an individual is to do once he/she does get a job, or the way forward from there. Why the emphasis on getting a job? There was a beautiful post on Quora where someone explained how our grandparents (in an Indian middle class family) had nothing, and their aim in life was to fend for their family. Consequently, for the parent, studies in school were everything, they had to aim to be toppers and excel because security of jobs were the most important thing. But in today’s life, self-esteem and respect from society take the forefront for the most of us. The post explains this in beautiful detail.
What I realized is that seeing where our parents come from, their objective is to facilitate and do everything they can to make sure their children lead a comfortable life. A comfortable life, till very recently, meant a steady job with a big pay. Money, takes center stage. And the entire education system is designed just to achieve the same objective—to help people get secure jobs, so they can make money and live a comfortable life. Therefore, the focus is not on actually educating the children and making sure that they learn, but is to give them the fodder required to land them comfortable jobs.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the global paradigm is changing. We have moved into an era of entrepreneurship, innovation, and a passion-driven job landscape. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to not just give children the knowledge, but the knowledge of how to apply that knowledge. Teach them to create opportunities for themselves, rather than wait for a huge multinational to hire you, or for the FDI to come through. Teach them their place in the society, so that they can contribute at a global scale, and not just be concerned with their individual lives. Teach them that they can and will have an impact on other people, and it is necessary to realize one’s own potential.
Parents need to realize that a comfortable life for their children cannot be the foremost objective. It has to be to create an environment where the child can pave his/her own way. We have to teach our children to be fearless. And life could still be just as comfortable, if not more rewarding.