We are all under stress these days with the CBSE results being out and the moans and wails mixed with celebrations drowning out the rest of the din that is India. Parents and kids alike are facing a trying time. They inevitably strive to draw as many as possible into the circle of their dreams, aspirations, problems (read marks) and the entire community goes through the angst of producing another batch of fuchchas — something like an entire country going through labour pains to bring forth the next educable generation.
The process of the survival of the fittest is nowhere seen in more stark detail than here. Witness the people who have missed their seat in St Most Preferred College by 0.3 % and committed suicide; witness the ones who have got 68% marks and have not bothered to apply to any college and wish they could have the guts to do so; witness the ones who are so busy with the CET that the Class 12 CBSE does not do much more than produce a blip on their scanners while they rough it out.
One wonders what the ‘others’, spoken of in hushed tones by the parents of the ones who’ve already got a seat in St Most Preferred College or IIT or whatever, would be doing. How do they hold their heads high? How will their children buy their dream home? How will they support their parents? How will they get a job? How will they...survive?
Parents of children who got less than 70% are not bad people and neither are their children in any way deficient. Marks in an exam are only one way to measure a person’s learning. There are far more ways of proving our worth and our knowledge than in an exam that tests our memory.
Any number of geniuses have, over the years, been thrown out of school; they did things differently. Thomas Edison was sent home in fourth grade and his mother was told his brain was addled. He went on to become the creator of the modern age with the electric light. Churchill did dismally in school, won a Nobel Prize for literature and became the famous PM of England during the second World War.
A word to parents, give your child the opportunity of creating his own personality and his own interest and his own life. Too many children are locked in to the parents’ expectations. Be reasonable. After all a child is a child is a child. He or she has his own interests, aspirations and desires. To expect someone to completely subjugate their own wishes to please another is not necessarily the best way to bring out the best in them.
As parents we should know our children well enough to see what they do best, where their interests lie and above all what makes them happy. Our guidance should be along these paths.
Personally I believe in the understanding of contentment and as a parent, I hope I have transmitted this to my kids. Just because my son is not an investment banker does not mean he has failed. I want my children to do what makes them happy and fulfilled in their lives. For my daughters it was teaching. It does not give them a lot of money and I was upset that my straight ‘A’ daughter chose teaching but it makes her happy. End of the day life is about enjoying it. I know so many who curse their lives, stuck in unfulfilling jobs under bosses they hate, and they say they are doing it for the money. Money is needed surely but as human beings I am sure we will all agree that being happy and staying happy is the key to a good life. I may not have a Maybach to drive but I am content and at peace. This is the understanding that we need to develop in our children, it will only come if we first develop it ourselves.
The writer is a disability activist and founding head of four national level NGOs working for hearing-impaired persons. The father of six has home-schooled all his children since 1990 after being disillusioned with the way schools function and the high pressure put on children. Two of the children have been professional
musicians, of which one is a chef, two are teachers, two are rock-climbing national-level athletes of whom one is an upcoming artist