We excel at burdening our children with increased academic demands and casting the anchors of our ambitions upon them. In the maddening chaos of school and college admissions, we forget about being kind to our children. Recent studies also suggest that many children are enrolled in schools way too early, adding to the existing slew of problems faced by the current generation of school-going children. There is hardly any space for creative play in the curriculum or our day-to-day routines. With the psychological well-being of students often overlooked, the Generation Z is faced with an unprecedented mental health crisis. Neither the present-day parents nor the educators are sufficiently capable or adequately interested in identifying behavioral changes or signs of mental distress. Our children carry the weight of their school bags under their lavender-stained eyes and bruised hearts.
“Your son will never make it to Harvard!” These words, so insolently flung at me by my colleague, left me dumbfounded that I retorted with an imbecilic “brrrr….” and an unflattering grimace. This statement was problematic at so many levels that I wasn’t sure if this mockery hurt my ego or my grey cells more. Firstly, my son was five at the time. He was in kindergarten! Secondly, how could someone assume that I would want my son to study at Harvard or that ensuring that my son gets admission in Harvard should be my life’s ambition? Even if that were true, why should I burden my child with my ambitions and aspirations?
Ambition is one’s own kite to fly. One is responsible for both: holding the kite line and feeling the drift.
Thirdly, how could someone foretell if my son would ever want to study at Harvard? What if he is not academically inclined? What if he wants to be a musician or an animator? What about the underlying supposition that everyone should be privileged enough to even consider applying to a University like Harvard? Concurrently, such a statement envisages that nothing short of the Harvard mould is acceptable in this society. It presupposes that happiness is a by product of the degree earned from Tier 1 universities. It disregards the intrinsic beauty of childhood and silently undermines the value of the finer sensibilities of the human mind including the acquisition of social skills and social wealth. Additionally, this statement has its roots in conventionality which, in turn, stifles individuality and creativity.
Many kids in our country sleep on an empty stomach. The relentless hunger pangs taunt them through the night. They wake up early even during bitter cold winter mornings or even when the sun is ablaze, under scorching heat of the merciless summer heat, walking painfully-long distances to fetch potentially contaminated water from possibly polluted water sources. With cracked heels and parched lips, they reach their schools— limp, pale and, tired. Now, We the society, tell them that their efforts in seeking refuge in schools to stay safe, to learn a few things, to have a mid-day meal, and to earn the opportunity of higher education is simply not enough. Making it to Harvard is all that counts! How can one forget Aamir Khan’s knockout performances as Ram Shankar Nikumbh and Rancho in the movies ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘3 Idiots’ respectively, which constantly prompt the audience to question the widely held perceptions regarding education and the notion of success. But, are we willing to look beyond the CBSEs, ICSEs, etcetera, and into the eyes of our children and ask, “Tum theek ho kya baccha?” Well, it’s 2020! Ask!
About the Author:
Anju Lopez FRSA has editorial experience that spans across almost a decade in the content and media industry. She is the Co-Founder of the website – The Daily Brunch(www.thedailybrunch.com) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, UK. She has worked as the Senior Manager for Content Development at BYJU’S. She is one of India’s most recognized Editors from the Travel and Hospitality industry. Anju holds two post-graduate degrees in Media and Communication; one from The English and Foreign Languages University and another from The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. She is a published author and has several research papers as well as non-academic publications to her credit. In 2019, she released her first book – Speak English by Malayala Manorama publications. Anju is currently settled in Germany, where she works as a Consultant, offering her expertise to several educational institutions and media houses.
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