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My hands get clammy with sweat. 12.30 PM is always the right time for a parent orientation meeting. The air-conditioner blasts, lots of noise, but no drop in temperature. The soaring mercury and humidity makes me look a zombie in motion. A lone trickle of sweat runs down my temple and I sit unperturbed by the monotonous lecture of the coordinator.
All around her are the charts with depictions of how to study or how to make your child run that extra mile. Vibrant hues of pink, yellow and blue charts with strange signs and stranger language smile at me. I shake my head to concentrate on what is being told and fail miserably as usual. I, of all poor students, the one who always chitchats in the classrooms, sit in stoic silence, unable to comprehend the figures and percentages unwind around me. I feel a kinship to Robert Bruce, a myriad web of marks and percentiles woven in my dull head and the coordinator my spider, trying to spruce me up in the cave of learning.
The charts depicted saying all about mindspark, image minds, Olympiad training, internal assessment, group dynamics, open book assessment, value based questions; the lecture explaining 60+40, 120+60, averaging, Formative assessment, Unit tests, Summative assessments...now wait a minute, in all my 36 years of life, never have I felt the paranoid fear of "learning".
I look around baffled at the other parents, they don't bat an eyelash and dutifully jot down notes of what is being said. Some are busy whatsapping, some working out their monthly budget, some staring blank at the woman with the gruff baritone wielding the mike. All I can do is tear my hair in despair, mentally, of course. Two days of parents orientation meet for the kids in a row- I am hallucinating of gorgoyles and witchcraft. I wish secretly my broom stick would come and time transport me to the wonderful days when all I did was chase butterflies and pick random fights with guys of the class. Life of our kids is seriously in dipshit!
Schools- the place where we attended classes, cracked jokes, had healthy competitions, ran hot races, ate shared meals and studied once in a while are now run with caustic precision that can put Auschwitz to shame. It is assessment after assessment with clocked accuracy, no sir, no leave for any reason except 'serious' sickness, certified by a paediatrician. ( Russian medical degrees will not be valid here!)You know, our camp ooops...school is bery bery ishtrict!
"We attach lot of importance to sports". Now haven't we heard that before? You want your child to practice a few hours extra in the mornings. No Sir. Ask your son/daughter to run in the midnight inside your 600 sqft flat's 10x10 bedroom. " We are very interested to take your kids for a tour". Now that is a sure dampener. The 'custom made' tour for 10 year olds across the historical forgotten towns of dusty Dakshin will cost you four silk sarees. 'International study tours' of your senior secondary son/daughter can make you place a classified ad to sell your great grandfather's prized half acre farm land.
"We stress on extra curricular activities for the Holistic development of children" means you are going to cough up extra few thousands for a karate course where the child learns the lone upper punch to practice on your sulking face! Or it may be a dramatics course where your daughter will be the 23 rd dancer on the 30th row, shining in her 2000 bucks dance costume, jumping onstage for a school day show!
Gone are the schools where we had the freedom to make paper boats on our own, where we sported garden snakes in ink bottles, where we 'enjoyed' schooling. The schools these days are mere 'broiler chicken' churning chicken farms where we send the eggs to be hatched, chicks moulded, fed with 'knowledge' feed, watered with 'exams and unit tests' and we get the final product- ready to slaughter juicy chicken straight from school, to the corridors of a random IT company!
|That would be a math class underway :P|
Where is the thinking ability? Problem solving skills? How are these chicken going to travel the future highway wrought with cut throat competition? Will these automated KFC style chicken stand the race of life? Only time can tell. Until then, it is going to be a mad mad rat race for medical and engineering seats. It is a sad scenario where parents of children who take up humanities and arts streams are looked down as 'under dogs'.
The scorn and smirk that follow our backs can make us cringe and scrape in despair. It is either EEE or ECE or Computer Science in engineering colleges that dictate the social status of parents. The child has to prove that he is the son of Mr. Ramasamy only by entering an engineering college, not a DNA test, mind it! The pressure that we put on our children to awake, arise and shine in studies is so blindening that we forget that they do have nimble fingers and soft hearts, with lots of love for us. Stoke the love and motivate, let them choose, let them seek and find the direction. Let us not pull them to slaughter houses of broiler chicken. Happy Parenting!
p.s.: I am in love with my daughter ;) Even as I madly type away this post, she is gleefully drawing pictures of Rapunzel from Enchanted, in sheets of paper strewn all around her :)
p.p.s.: Someone tell me the name of chemical element found in dandruff shampoo...seventh standard science project is to identify elements in objects around us! Effect of doing too much of homework, I guess;)