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Since I was looking for a school for my daughter’s nursery admission, I recently happen to visit an education fair in the city. I must confess that it was an utterly disappointing experience. I almost felt like I was in a ‘market’ where the shopkeepers were trying to enamor their customers. “Madam, our school follows experiential learning, we have AC classrooms, state of the art infrastructure, sports facilities, and not to forget CCTV cameras”. ‘Claiming to be the best juggler in the circus’. It seems experiential leaning is the new buzzword. After visiting 2-3 ‘stalls’, I felt tired and claustrophobic. In utter dismay, I decided to leave. May be, I shouldn’t have expected anything different than this.
And ‘we’ become both the spectators and the participants of this circus. There is a whole lot of anxiety among the parents about the nursery admissions of their wards. I never thought it would be such a big deal. I see parents frantically looking for information on schools, exchanging notes and tracking dates. It’s good to be well informed but is it worth getting anxious? This anxiety thing catches on, and everyone tends to become hyper. I also followed the tribe, fretting too much over it. Which are the ‘best’ schools? Will my child get through a desired school? Which school will suit her personality, so on and so forth? These questions kept ringing in my head. Then it occurred to me, is the so-called ‘good’ school, the only gateway for making my child a ‘genius’? We all want the best for our children. But any less of it, should not disappoint us.
I was filling the form for one of the desired schools and I was posed with a very simple/basic and yet a very profound question. What does the word ‘education’ mean to me? It triggered many questions in my head. I had to get down to the very basics. It occurred to me that I myself haven’t attended the best school in the town. Then what were/are the attributes that made me succeed? These were devotion, strong will, empathy, patience, and a very strong value system. Also my parents just stood by me, and they were always there. What matters then is:
1) That my child follows her heart, realizes her true potential. There is no need for her to follow the crowd, but carve her own path. She has to become a thinking/questioning being. Someone, who can take responsibility for her own actions and live fearlessly.
2) That she enjoys learning and experiencing things. Education has to be focused on learning and not achieving. I was recently asked to quote two instances from my school days that made me happy. I really had to scratch my brain, to even come up with one. It was my music class that actually made me happy, I could hardly relate to any classroom experience per se.
3) At the end of the day, I want my child be a good and a responsible human being. In this trophy laden and competitive world, the importance of a strong value system is even more crucial. Values like patience, honesty, integrity, sharing, and compassion are of paramount importance to me. These can never become outdated/old. I have personally never compromised on these values, nor will I teach my child to, even if she fails.
4) That she understands the true meaning of success. Hasn’t our generation really struggled to be, where we are today? We had to learn the hard way, why deprive our children of that journey. They should be reminded that there are no shortcuts to success. An entry into a ‘good’ school is not a perfect recipe for success. We need to reiterate that without struggle, there can never be progress. Be it academics, sports, dance or painting. Let them struggle, and as parents our job is to walk with them.
5) For the above point to materialize, we have to allow our children to fail. By not allowing our children to fail, we are failing our children. We are a generation of overprotective parents, always shielding our children ‘unwittingly’. As if failure is bad, something we need to be ashamed of. We need to let our children fail, so that they can succeed. They also have to learn the importance of participating over winning. Let them fall off their bikes. Let them carry to school that imperfect assignment. So, that they strive to make a better assignment the next time.
As parents, we do our best to secure the future of our child/children. Let’s strive towards making them better human beings and the rest will follow.