Learning is not equal to education…

This is not a review. These are random ramblings induced by the nostalgia of the horror that used to be school. The good memories of my childhood did not involve school, at all. Okay maybe the canteen but that’s it….

Though my parents firmly believed in education, they never believed in forcing education onto me or my sister. I failed in my first ever written exam in standard I and the teacher made it a point to tell my mother that I was a problem child. Mom took it upon herself to fix that, but when year after year, I managed to score and land in the scholarship class, the teachers did not stop labelling me a problem child, Mom decided something was off.  She decided to let me be but told me that I had to endure these subjects I hated just up to the tenth standard, because that’s how it works.

Soon enough, my sister came to school and she went through the same hell as I did. Mom, who was a little wiser let her be, until it came to a point where it started to worry her. We were obviously apprehended every time we scored single digit marks, but we were always encouraged to pursue what we liked. But even so, the lack of marks entailed failure, and that felt horribly wrong. It brought down our spirits and trust me, we did feel miserable. Those who scored 99 on 100 in maths or science were heroes and those like my sister, who might just about scrape maths but write a brilliant essay, were useless. Hell, once a teacher cut my marks in an essay because she did not understand the Dickens reference I made! If you scored well, you were put in august company of other super scorers in the ‘merit’ division. Otherwise, you would have to rot in backward classes with the under performers. So naturally every parent wished and hoped that their kid would make it into the merit class. As soon as I passed out, my sister changed schools to go to a better school. Though there were no merit divisions here, the school was swarming with problem teachers. While my teachers had asked my kundali to be reviewed for my grahadasha to find the problem behind my restlessness, the sister’s teachers said she had no hope of passing maths.

The sister has only scored distinctions in exams since she found a joy in learning which lead to her discovering the subject she loved (she went to 90 percent boss, eat that!) and she is now pursuing a Post Graduate diploma in one of the best advertising schools in the US. But of course, this will hold no value to that teacher who believed that if you are not a doctor or an engineer, your life was a failure. That woman, and many like her are the engineers of failure. She is a system checks that make the following quote, a fact.
‘I was born a genius, education ruined me’

So when Mahesh Manjarekar, in his controversially titled film, ‘Shikshanachya Aicha Gho!’ raises a question, ‘Who are you to decide who’s a failure or who’s a success on the basis of marks?’ I want to applaud him. When he questions the system, and says that it kills the joy of learning, I want to yell out, I agree.

It’s time we looked at education as something that creates, not something that manufactures. Of course, IB schools are around to change that, but these IB schools come at a price tag in the range of lakhs, completely out of the common man’s reach. Isn’t it time we did something about the fact that schools are getting more and more competitive? Or are we going to wait until a couple more 12 year olds commit suicide?

And if education can make a 12 year old feel like death is better, then truly, ‘Ya Shikshanachya Aicha Gho!’

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4 Responses

  1. Hi,

    Got me thinking about a recent trip to Kashmir. I had been to a place called Aru valley (close to Pehalgam). Lush green landscape. Realized that this is the spot where they had shot, karma n satte pe satta.

    Trudging up the hill, tottering (myself as well as the poor horse i was on), the next bend bought along an awesome sight.

    A stream flowing through. A few bovine creatures meandering around. Birds chirping (no crows..yeah!). And seated on the boulders were kiddos of varying age groups, with slim notebooks/parchments in their hands.

    A masterji scribbling away on a drawing board. Occasionally using a rock face for illustration beyond the board.

    There was a lot of laughter echoing around. Sourced from both, the teacher as well as the pupils.

    Do not know, their curriculum, do not know its competitiveness, unaware of their future, but most certainly certain about one thing. That laughter was real.

    They were enjoying their classes. Masti ki paathshala.

    These kids would most definitely value the experience and the associated learning a lot more than mere comparisons and relative marking schemes.

    Hope they grow up to have the freedom to pursue what they want. Else, they might end up following the same calf path mentality that most of us urbanites subscribe to.

    Class dismissed.

    Sunil

  2. I’m thinking of Taare Zameen Par, which I watched again this week. Do you remember how disappointed the father was when his oldest son only came second in the finals of the tennis competition? That scene was both depressing and encouraging, I thought. Yes, it was awful how he made Yohan suffer, but on the other hand, that boy still managed to turn out a compassionate tolerant human being. He was always patient and encouraging with Ishaan.

    I’m not saying that competition has no effect on young minds, and possibly boys like Yohan don’t manage to stay like that all the way through to adulthood. But, it gave hope.

    My own son used to go to a school like the two in TZP, and actually the children there were incredibly kind and caring. I was surprised. They, of course, were the survivors. Many, like my son, don’t make it through the education mill. Due to an accident he was unable to keep up with the pace of things there, so now goes to a smaller school that is much more , where they help lots of children like Ishaan, with dyslexia and other problems. What is more, I think my son is going to come out with better grades from this school. They make learning fun, interesting and inspiring. So, happy endings!

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