“Making personalities or puppets”- 23 July 2017.

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Sunday, 30 July 2017 18:52

A strange feeling takes over me when a teenager or a youth says, ‘I do not know what I like to do and what I want to do’. They are at most times good students achieving high percentage in examinations but there a blank when it comes to talking about their talents and their likes and dislikes. One undergraduate student who passed with distinction said something interesting ‘I have passed examinations but now I want to learn!’. A graduate engineer said ‘I hate engineering although I have cleared all my papers without a single failure but I dread to think of doing this all my life!’ Another girl goes a step further to say ‘I wanted a post graduate degree after my graduation so I continued with computer science but I do not like the subject at all’. She further tries to clarify her goals in yet uncertain terms that ‘her aim is to get a government job in whatever sector whether it is banks, railways, life insurance and that’s it. She did computer science only for the post graduate degree and not for the love of computer science’. She was unsuccessful in her multiple attempts in gaining a government job and claimed to be the unhappiest person in the world in spite of two professional degrees. She was feeling suicidal.

The attainment of degrees is taking over the goal of learning. The educational industries manufacturing degrees have robbed the fun out of learning and the development of talents and skills. Earlier people followed traditional vocations of their families learnt the skills and related knowledge from their elders or teachers who refined and honed their skills. Today it seems skills have been replaced with the attainment of degrees with practically no sense of attaining any specific applied skill. Therefore data analytical studies have set the alarm bells ringing by stating that employability among engineers and management graduates are as low as 25% and 18% because most of the degrees are generally hollow in content and application leaving the students confused with the process of learning.

A girl X was forced into dental science by her parents and she was an unhappy soul. She eventually made a circle of friends who were non achievers, indulged in fun and adventure and gradually got hooked onto drugs. Her addiction negatively impacted her concentration, focus and studies. She kept failing and kept blaming it on her parents not taking the onus of responsibility on self. Obviously when we allow students to choose their own path with full consciousness, we push them into positions of responsibility. When parents decide for them the burden of failure and future success is on parents.

Parents may suffer from many types of mythical thinking. One of them is that ‘your life is made when you take a good professional degree’. The second myth is that ‘your life is set when you get a secure government job’. The third myth follows from the above two that ‘to get there you need high marks in school and board examinations so that you can compete with the best’. In this rat race of attaining high marks and high degrees and government jobs, you lose your soul and your life as they fall by the way side. You mind is conditioned by parents, teachers and guardians of society alike so greatly that you are ready to sacrifice and comprise to any extent that you lose contact with your inner self.

Although formal education has become a necessity for every child today in India and the world to earn your livelihood and ‘survive’, it has done much harm to the psyche’ and the soul of the children. For children are forced to study for livelihood and survival and not for the joy of learning and discovering their talents. Children seem split in their minds and personalities as they cannot integrate their likes and desires with an education that has fixed curriculum with no scope for flexibility. Children should be allowed some freedom to be independent and to determine what they like and dislike and be allowed to express their interests in terms of games, sports, artistic hobbies and other creative pursuits besides their formal education. Methods of ‘open learning’ should be introduced in schools beyond class room teaching or should be pursued by parents out of school for their wards. The relevance of learning mathematics, social studies, science and languages to the lives of children needs to be explained to children.

 

Besides all this is giving utmost importance to the child as an individual and not a cog in the giant educational wheel that keeps churning out masses from the same mould. The talents, originality of the child, their creativity remain hidden under the burden of the fixed curriculum and the teaching methods employed. We believe that every child is gifted by God in different ways and the duty of the educational process is to allow the child to discover the latent talents and manifest them in a systematic manner. According to Swami Vivekananda the great Hindu monk education is “the manifestation of perfection within man”. Therefore the success of nurturing a child lies in the blossoming of its talents and God given gifts which will eventually lead to the passionate pursuit of excellence in those talents. There can be no better goal than this. For the moment we seem to be failing miserably in our educational agenda.