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Education be dammned


Well o' well!!! या शिक्षणाच्या आई चा घो!!! (Education be dammned)

The movie has got me thinking about the discussions on the Indian Education system. Before blaming it for all that is wrong, we should take a breath and realise that it is this very system that has produced one too many illuminated minds of the silicon valley, Biotech zones, etc. And it is this very system, at the same time, which pushed students to take their own lives. But is the education system alone to blame? What about the nagging parents and finger-pointing society who do not allow the kids to go ahead in the vocation of their choice?

I get nostalgic in the months of March and April. 
Those are the times when the SSC and HSC examinations take place back home.

An anxious Mom, ready with soaked almonds and 2 tablespoons of Dabur's Shankapushpi tonic to increase her dear baby's memory, LMRs (For those who had a non-serious SSc, LMR stands for a book for algebra n' geometry-Last Minute Revision), self-study-books, navneet guides, solved papers.......hohohoho...we had a book that contained question papers of all the subjects (March and October) of past 10 years.

By-hearting text book pages...was the key to success, back then.

By heart: Give reasons for your answer, fill in the blanks, answer in one sentence, big questions, tables, formulae, theorms, equations, diagrams....ooooof!!!

One of the trends also back then was to solve as many papers as you can, before the actual examination, and get them corrected from teachers...Come October, and the parent-rush to get their kids corrected used to start....10-15-20-25.................these were the comparative numbers of papers solved and corrected. There were a few odd-ball parents, who were so involved with their kids, "I wake my kid at 6, he/she has saffron milk, then the paper solving for the morning, read balbharti-while shitting, school, the rote learning, tutions, paper, rote learning, sleep....and my Baby scored a whopping 90 percent in the prelims :D," used to beam the nothing-else-to-do-other than cook-mother.

My mom used to get a major complex. She was a practicing physiotherapist and balancing house and work was a big circus...add to that, a daughter, in 10th, who is not serious about the exams, and add to that these aunties. Poor thing, she always thought she was doing less for me. :(

But still, things were pretty much okay, and pressures were not much. Mostly (for me) because my Mom never expected me to be a topper. She was aware of my academic track record. But seriously, there were very rare cases of student suicides.

After a few years though, there were the citings. One of the students, from a famous merit-churner vernacular school from my city, had to drop out for a year. She was a shivering, nervous wreck because the poor thing, could not get in the Division 'A'. Please dont confuse this for grade..In India, we have 4-5 classes for each in 10thA, 10thB, 10thC and 10thD. In most schools toppers are in the 'A' Division, and losers in D.

Cut to 2010: This subject was talk of the town with the release of a Marathi movie, by the name-शिक्षणाच्या आई चा घो, which literally means Education be dammned. Everything about the movie, right from the title was controversial..But I guess, somehwere it just struck a chord with parents and school goers alike. So, after reading pages of reviews and PR pieces about the current situation; and watching some footage, we watched the movie. 

An impactful movie that it was, it set me thinking that if this movie has touched a chord with the audience, does that mean, that the movie is depicting today's sorry state of affairs? And if the answer to this question is a big 'YES', then we seriously need to do some introspection, as to how we slid up to here, rather than blame the education system.

Most of you may not agree...but just remember one thing...our generation and the earlier one also went through the same grind. What is it that was different for us?A popular answer might be that the competition is more intense now, than in our times......But won't it always be that way? In our parents' time, the competition factor was much lower....almost not there... I believe, to a certain extent its we ourselves are to blame......... comparing ourselves with others. 

Always trying to up our ante. I have come across many parents, talking about their kids as though some trophies. For God's sake, we even make our kids go to school (albeit a play one) earlier.We have a set notion of success and failure. How many parents can accept that their child is not a doctor/engineer/techie/writer/film-maker, or not a money churner in general? 

Many kids might want to join the armed forces, or just paint, be a fashion designer or a documentary film-maker, or make a name in sports. Do we give them those options? Whats more, we rob them off their childhood, making them go to tutions and classes.

One of the experiences of my friend Richa, when she was in US: She used to teach part-time at kids school and found that Indian parents used to check and double check their sonny's homework. The kids never enjoyed studies. As against this, the other kids did their own homework, learnt from their own mistakes (without the fear of getting a low grade) and more importantly.....imagined and innovated, be it studies or exttra curricular activites. What is good?Or bad? right or wrong?

There is no answer to this situation. We have to remember that this is the very education system that has churned out some of the highly successful  names in the Silicon Valley or in any other fields for that matter. So the education system alone, might not be to blame.

The movie in question, stared by quoting George Bernard Shaw, "The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school."

I would like to end (in a weird way) through this calvin and hobbes strip and also by quoting Albert Einstein, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."


Anonymous at: May 4, 2010, 1:12:00 PM said...

The time hasn't changed any thing. During our time , becoming engineer was very difficult. Only 7 engineering colleges in the state and three branches. The same thing holds good for Medical college also.
Now, with extra coaching classes, and number of engineering /medical colleges its easier to get an admission .
Have seen that movie, and to tell the truth, didn't touch the chord! Every thing shown is goody- goody.. :)
Nice post. Keep blogging.

Anonymous at: May 6, 2010, 2:25:00 PM said...

Damn! No one ever cared about how I fared in the exams. I'm sure my parents don't even know if I had passed the 10th! But now that I read this post, I feel like I've been brought up in the Amreekan style B-)
I will try to watch शिक्षणाच्या आई चा घो

Nandini Chhatre at: May 13, 2010, 10:36:00 PM said...

Yeah, you are one of those few lucky ones. :)But not all of them are as lucky.....Now a days the tution classes charge arnd 50K for a few subjects n test series, n classes start in summer of 9th std.....these guys hv no life :(

Nandini Chhatre at: May 13, 2010, 10:39:00 PM said... Hmmm, mebbe u r rite. But how does that change nything. There has been an increase in no of colleges and also a faster rise in number of students. But this will always go on and at some point of time, we as parents ahve to take a stand....

aniket at: May 20, 2010, 12:43:00 AM said...

I like your post, but i dont really agree with the comparison of Indian education System with the American System. It is a fact on record that majority of high school students can not read or write at a level at which they should in US. Their command over English, inspite of it being their 1st and in majority of cases only language is below par. Add to add to that the exorbitant fees for undergraduation and even higher for graduation makes it a matter of do or die for their parents. Now under these circumstances, it is inevitable for parents to push their children. However linient the education system allows them to cruz through their courses one class at a time. This, in in my humble opinion, not only gives them an opportunity to side step the competition, but also makes them incompetent. I agree, this education systems has given birth to brilliant minds, but out of the millions that graduate or drop out, they are far too few and in between. I agree with you enitrely that we are robbing children of their merry childhood, but i dont think, on an avg, a person knows what he/she really want utill they are about 22-25, and by then too much investment is made to take a risk and become a painter or a documentry film maker. I like your post, but i think there are way too many dimensions to this discussion to catagorise the education system as either black or white. I have issues with the system and u brought up most of them, but i think there is that other side of the coin that we all conviniently overlook. :)

Nandini Chhatre at: May 21, 2010, 6:52:00 AM said...

Hey Aniket, Thanks for posting your comment. Just wanna say, am not comparing 2 education systems here, but am comparing parents. Many parents from my neighbourhood used to monitor them from SSC till their graduation. If u see now, professionally, everyone is at par now. N yeah, like you said, its way too big a topic with many dimensions.

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