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Life goes on at its usual pace and we move with clockwork precision to it. The early mornings, five days a week, sending kids to school, skimming through the newspaper with tea, office, lunch, fitness class, dinner and the haywire weekends. In spite of the running around to keep pace, we are all more or less settled comfortably in our routines. Unless one day, a news catches our eye and jolts us out of our mundane life. Like this morning, the news of a 17 year old girl, committing suicide as she saw her dreams of becoming a doctor crashing with the results, made me numb. What had this young child seen in her life to give up on it? It is no act of cowardice. It is a failure, not hers, certainly not hers, but, probably the world around her which failed to preserve her. I want to know who is to blame.
Peer pressure? Ignorance? Flawed education system? Wrong aspirations?
How many of us ask our child, who is upset about her unit test marks, how much her friends scored and/or if anyone scored less than her? Let us accept the fact that not all children get a perfect ten. There are some who get an eight and some who get a two. The cognitive capabilities of all 40 students in a class cannot be the same. Instead of stressing out and slowly transferring it to your child, explore the methods of helping her cope. Teach her the value of hard work. Don’t show her that she is valued in comparison to her peers, better than so and so, less than or need to be like so and so. Her self-worth shouldn’t depend on her marks or on others. Teach her to be herself and not just one of the herd. If academics are not her forte, give her opportunities where she can feel happy and proud of herself.
We all wax eloquent on the uniqueness of each child, of each child being different. Believe that. Everyone has their strengths. We love highlighting that. How about accepting that we also have our weaknesses. Then again, who has established that anything other than science or commerce is a weakness? Popular misconceptions need to change. We need to realise the difference between slogging and being burdened. Sweating it out for something you understand, love and enjoy is different than getting tired, stressed out and depressed, while trying to keep up with the rest. Choose correctly. Give equal importance to your ability and zeal while making those choices in life, they will hold you in good stead. No matter what percentage you score, everyone including you, will forget that in future.
While it is a fact that our education system isn’t perfect, there are changes happening, even if we don’t see much. Parents crib about the project works given to children. Some get it done by professionals and some do it themselves too. We fail to see the exposure the child gets to 1. Face challenges. 2. Learn to seek information and use it intelligently. 3. Understand about group dynamics. 4. Most importantly, build personal competence. This is but one instance, there are more. Trust a little. Don’t blame the school, teachers or the system in general if you see the child struggling. Sit down and pinpoint where and how to make changes to help. Take it up as a challenge. Fight it out. But, If nothing works, do tell her that there is a life beyond 100% cut offs and “that prestigious institute”.
As soon as a child reaches middle school we don’t tire of asking the parents and child what her future aspirations are. Life is not about setting your goals at the age of 10 and reaching them at 25 and living happily ever after. It is a constant process with ebbs and flows. We need to learn to swim. The primary goal should be to build our strength. Strength. Mental and physical, to stand tall in face of all adversities. Aspire, to survive in the best possible way, using all your potential. There are lots of options to help you sustain yourself in this world. So what if you don’t get into the stream/college/ job of your choice. Life doesn’t have to stop. It might turn out to be different from what you had dreamt of, but, different isn’t a synonym for bad or worthless. It is wrongly assumed that our primary goal is our career. The focus needs to shift. To building an emotionally strong and happy youth. Someday…�