When I look at the kids of this generation (yeah I can use this word “generation” as I am already over three decades😉) I find them very smart, competitive and raring to go. Be it studies or other than that, there is always a rush. And I have this question at back of my mind “What’s the rush?”. Why there is a rush to win at any cost? Why there is a rush to grow up too fast too soon? Who is prompting it after all? Frankly, I have no idea so whatever I am expressing here is definitely not a blame game or finger-pointing someone.
I understand it completely that competition is the norm of the day. Excellence in studies is not enough to stand out among the crowd. “All Round ” development or excellence is the target of both parents and educational institutions. “Zero” hour studies, “Extra / Special” classes, Extra curricular activities – few terms that are most commonly tossed upon these days. And to include the term “Extra” in the brochures educational institutions are charging extra (read: mind boggling high) fees, just to reiterate the fact or illusion for that matter that they are providing kids with an edge that could steer them through the competitive world and make them a winner. And parents are definitely falling prey to this willingly (almost).
As parents are coughing up or made to cough up hefty donations and fees for the bright future of their kids they start expecting from their kids to “perform”. And when expectation sets in or rather seeps in, it changes gear and acquires the form of pressure on kids. It’s a pretty much race like situation out there, whose kid is going to make it to the finish line that never exists. I remember this incident from the days when I used to work as a teacher to pre-primary kids – a father of one particular student came to collect quarterly report of the child and asked me “What’s the rank of my child?”. I was startled by this question. I said to him that at first place there is no ranking system at that level. Ranking (at least at that tender age) can hamper their confidence. Our emphasis is on how a kid is learning, how he or she is behaving in the class with teachers, elders and fellow classmates. Are the glances of good behaviour and better learning can be seen out of the premises of classroom (at home) as well and more importantly how happy a child is. As long as a child is picking up the things taught in classroom with interest and shows interest in the collaborative and other individual activities other than studies and most importantly are happy (psychologically not intimidated) we can mark the report card with “A+”. It was just an isolated incident but I have many to recite if time permits.
This is new age mark of excellence and a guarantee card for success – Rank! And the grind to attain ranks begins even before a child can spell his or her own name. It’s a matter of real pity that despite of numerous explanations given n number of times as to how pressurizing could do more harm than good there’s no alarm ringing for those who are constantly pushing their kids to align in this race format. So much pressure is encouraging methods like mugging up the content rather than soaking the subject. Result: “Marks on report card with zero knowledge in brains”.
“Carrot and Stick” rule of rewards is being strictly followed which says if you perform well then get Carrot (not literally 😀, it means rewards/ gifts) and if you fail get a Stick – get ready to be beaten up (many a times it happens literally too). I personally feel it is okay to reward a good effort but too much negative approach if one fails could demotivate too. There is a possibility that kids inculcate fear of failing and expect repercussions rather than perform with heart in place and mind free of fear. I want to re-emphasise that ranks don’t guarantee success. Success is purely based on the inherent talent and how it is put to use. I won’t repeat the names of great men and women around who stand as icons to success but are not rank holders, that would be too clichéd. I would rather quote people from my circle, whom I know personally. They may not be icons to the world but are successful in their own right and of course no the rank holders – they are my school friends (hope they don’t take offence 😊), many from my relatives and so on.
It’s also important to see that when we talk about competition it’s not just restricted to books and education. People want their kids to learn and excel in other activities too. You may be thinking how it could be considered as something harmful. Let us take a look at current scenario. There is nothing wrong in letting a child pursue his or her interests. There is nothing wrong in letting them compete or participate in events concerning their interests as long as it is only meant to boost their confidence and helps acquire more skills and not to rate their “standing” per say. In this retrospect I would like to mention about the plethora of reality shows which showcase kids of as young as 3 years doing stuff like dancing, acting, singing etc. in the full glare of camera eye. Purpose – to be famous; to earn money; to assess your talent. I condemn it wholeheartedly. I don’t see a reason why the burden of parents’ of dreams are dumped upon tender shoulders. It irks me to no end that kids who haven’t even started speaking properly are given dialogs that they can’t even mouth. Believe it or not they are made to smile, laugh, play even cry for the perfect shot to be captured in camera as everything is scripted. Isn’t it cringe worthy? What is the rush to be popular or make them popular as if there is no tomorrow, I simply can’t understand.
There are quite a few things that parents need to understand ASAP:
- Teach your kids to be happy at first place. Let them grow up at their own pace. Let them enjoy their childhood, don’t force them to grow up out-of-the-way.
- Know the difference between literacy and education : If a person can read and write and sign his or her name he or she is merely literate. Education in true sense imparts values and wisdom. Give education to your kids, that would count in the long run as it would help them to differentiate between what’s wrong and what’s right, period.
- Let their interests blossom before you pluck the fruit. To compete or not should be a child’s prerogative. Never ever force your decision and whims & fancies on your child.
A lot more has been said already in this context and a lot more will be said after this and the question will be same every time “what’s the rush?”.