Blame the system not the child.

, Rana's Space

When We all see our children groaning under huge bags on their way to school we wonder whether they are getting education or training to be coolies?

We see them pouring over their Home Work every day and wonder whether they will ever enjoy their childhood?-

Where is the joy of childhood?

Where is the time to play?

Where is the time to dream and invent?

They say that it’s a jungle out there?

I think that that jungle starts not in the corporate world but at the primary school itself.

The stress of getting into the best nursery school is unbelievable; the pressure is intense. After all the rest of their lives depends on the prep school they attend.

we are trying very hard to make them Einstein’s from the day they are born.

Our ambition knows no bounds where our kids are concerned- while we grew up in a very easy atmosphere of lazy days playing hopscotch and catch and I spy and nights filled with fairy tales, our children are set to school at age 3 and since they have to make it to the best school their days are full of ABC”s and nights of—

What colour is this darling?

What shape is this? What is your daddy’s name?

Is this lipstick red or green?

Is this plate round or square?

Is this a pen or pencil?

Who is the prime minister of India ? etc.

Our mothers told us fairy tales we tell our children stories from the corporate world and teach them names of inventors and great personalities.

I have also been guilty of this.

We were in Calcutta and admissions in good schools were very tough.

So I spent a major proportion of my day teaching my daughter – everything that I could possibly think of and heard of from parents with school going kids. To make her learn the spelling of her name I used to call her S-U-B-U-H-I instead of her proper name. Today I am ashamed to admit that in 1 month I tried to teach the entire a-z and 1-100- reading and writing and when my daughter would not want to learn I would beat her up! then to make up for the guilt of beating her I would bribe her with trips to the zoo to see the lions and baby giraffes which she loved. I doubt that she loved them so much when it came as a bribe for a beating!

The result was that she learnt everything but on the day of the test kept writing B the wrong way round- I was standing there and frowning at her but she was adamant- this is how I have learnt. Years later she told me that she had taken a dislike to a school which though she had never seen she had taken such a lot of beating for that she didn’t wantto go there!

Anyway, she got into a very good school ..

Now !came the ambition to have an overachiever- I went through my daughter’s HW till she was word perfect in everything- no mistake was allowed! How could my daughter not come first? In Std 1 she got some 99. something % and I remember my brother in law telling me- “go and fight with the school where are the rest of the marks.”

This contd for many years – the expectation that she had t come first every time and recriminations for every mistake- I had taught you this ; I had told you this; Since I had been a teacher for some years before she was born I knew how papers were set so I would spend a good portion of my day going thru her school books looking for familiar patterns and setting test papers for her. The result she became a good student but because I was scolding and pushing her so hard I became a bad parent.

On day my mother advised me-“ she may or may not become a good student- she has a lot of time- but if you lose her love and your compassion and bonding with her you will never become a good mother to her or for her. After all you studied on your own so did her father and have done well. Why are you pushing your children?”

By now my son had also started going to school and I was pushing him also. In fact one night after a particularly hard day he woke me at night with a upset stomach and said –“ Allah says you are teaching your son so much that he has fallen sick.”” He was only 5 years!

Fortunately I saw sense and realized that it was better to be a good parent than a slave driver because the minute they left my supervision they would refuse to study.

From that day I let go. My daughter’s results went down but she became more relaxed.

I still tried to push them to study but not with force and more with persuasion. I realized I had been transferring my ambitions and unfulfilled dreams on to them.

My husband was very cool thru out and said let them be they will study if they want to.

Anyway! The crux of the matter is that today also many parents are trying to push their children too hard. They are transferring their own unfulfilled dreams and ambitions on to their children. They are also trying to get their kid to be one better than the neighbor’s or friends kid.

They also can’t help it- the competition is so intense- it’s like a jungle and very few can succeed. My son appeared for the IIT entrance exam-there were about 2.5 lac students appearing for 2,500 seats. He didn’t get thru but then the vast majority of the students didn’t either!

For this exam students start preparing from std 9 and take coaching for 4 years- they have to go thru the intense pressure of coaching for this + their own regular classes and exams- since parents have so much expectations from them that if they fail they go into deep depressions- at the time of announcements of results the number of teenage suicides go up! Students who don’t do well get a feeling of inadequacy and low self esteem which hampers them for the rest of their lives.

This is not limited to India alone as SAT? TOEFL scores are also achieved after a lot of hard work + the students need good GPA’s.

There area only a limited number of seats in all the good colleges the world over- If the child gets a good score he may get a scholarship and so go to The US or UK= so we push for that.

Can we really blame the parents? We tell our selves and our kids we are doing this to ensure your future. This is for u not for us. But if we think deeply whom are we punishing and what is wrong?

We are punishing our kids for the failure of the system which is overburdened by a huge population, to provide quality education and jobs for all the citizens.

(A speech given by me in Jubail, Saudi Arabia for Toastmasters International in 2007)

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