Tag Archives: Education

The joy of giving

I came to the US in 2003 for my studies and it was not until 2007 did I visit India for my vacation. Four years might not sound too long but it felt like it was an eternity when I landed in Chennai. It was a complete change and the development was alarming. In spite of everything good that was going around one thing I noticed during my visit is that poverty was still the same. There were still kids without proper clothing or food. There were still kids running behind cars and coming out to watch a train pass by.

I thought to myself things haven’t changed much as I had imagined. While some of my friends thought that it was the mistake of the parents of those kids but my argument was what did the kid do to deserve this? With that thought I came back to US after a month’s visit and I saw a mail which my roommate had gotten and it had a charity organization (Don’t want to mention the name as I am not writing this to promote any organization) name on the top. I went online and checked it out and found that they help underprivileged kids for their studies and food.

That gave me an inspiration and started a research on my own, found a credible organization and started to contribute for the studies, food, and clothing for one child for an entire year. It has been 4 years since I started the contribution and I feel great. I also contribute whenever I can for other social causes, like some natural disasters etc. in any part of the world. I just feel that such things can actually make a difference. I am not writing this to boast about myself or to prove I am great but this is something I wanted to serve as inspiration to at least couple of people like my roommate did for me 4 years back.

I never wanted to share this with people and wanted these things to be discrete but I thought sometimes such thing coming to open is a good thing. We are always ready to jump on rich people and say they don’t contribute enough. We lambast the politicians for not doing enough to the society but when it comes to ourselves we get defensive. Contributions need not be high, small ones work too. My Indian colleagues come here to US and involve themselves in various charity works. Some people even adopted US soldiers; yes it is very good cause but again none for the country we grew up in. I am not saying that no one contributes, like I said there are lots of them who do but we surely can be better. Again I hope this hits the right chord with the people and does not come out as a preachy article.

A lot of people do excellent work in India and I really salute them for their efforts. In comparison to them I feel that I don’t do enough but I am happy with the start. Whenever I get the child report sent to me by the organization it just brings a smile on my face.

Education, marks and teachers

In 2012 we have seen a spate of movies in Tamil targeting the education system. What we have to keep in mind is even though these directors/movie makers have their heart in the right place movies can hardly provide a proper solution. In the end they need to make money and for that they need to be over dramatic and can hardly show reality after a certain point.

Suddenly people have started to take a good notice about our education system. The higher mark equals brilliance concept in our system is one of the most outdated concepts ever. Students (except for a few) hardly learn anything but get the required marks to get over the line. The interesting situation is when the teachers call the parents and complain that their kid isn’t doing well in studies. This is funny because the parents are paying a fortune to put the kid in that school and the fact that they are unable to educate him/her should be a warning signal.

The parents put their kids in a private tuition and voila he starts to pass. Now my question to all the parents is this, if a tuition teacher can make your kids pass (Even though he isn’t imparting any great knowledge) then why does he need the school? Why can’t he just go to 3-4 tuitions and just take his exams, doesn’t that make sense? To be frank the problem is that in a class of 40 about 20 will probably pass in all subjects, the rest will fail at least in one. The teachers are mostly worried about only the top 20 in the class and do not want to take the extra effort on the other 20.

The argument that we are teaching the same way to everyone and why isn’t your kid doing well does not hold water. Kids are different and not everyone is the same. Teachers don’t teach the concepts and just expect the kids to understand what they blabber in the class. Some kids need more than that. When you teach geometry or trigonometry, teach them how the solution comes and what’s the concept behind them. When you do that everyone will get the point not just the bright ones.

This happened to me when I was in standard X1th. That was the year we got introduced to Integral calculus. I had no clue how it worked. Whatever the teacher taught went way over my head, completely clueless I almost failed my exam. Then I went to the tuition, which I hated at that time but could not be thankful to the guy now. The guy who taught me was young and probably just out of college. He taught me the concepts, made me understand how integral calculus works and you know what in the very next exam where the entire paper was on integral calculus I managed to score 90%. The teacher was in absolute shock. Now the point is I am not dumb but the teacher has no clue how to teach. If a guy right out of college can bring out such a performance out of me in my very first exam since I went to him then there is surely something wrong with the school.

The stupid syllabus and 10 chapter’s thing should go and emphasis should be on making the kids understand the concepts better. In that way we aren’t memorizing but understanding what those things in the book mean. When I came to the US I felt that the things we are good at are actually miniscule as we are poor at actual practical implementation of concepts. We keep reading books and vomit it onto the paper and most of us don’t understand what we write. Parents should question the schools when they say your son/daughter don’t cut it as it is not true. The fact is that the teachers and school don’t have the patience to work on your kid. If the tuition teacher is able to get the desired result then you know where is problem is. If India needs to produce quality professionals and not just the quantity then this has to change.

Different kind of pressure on kids

This weekend we have yet another movie releasing on the kind of pressure the kids go through in our education system. We had “Nanban” already this year, Amir Khan’s “Tare Zameen par” couple of years back and now it is Prakash Raj’s second directorial venture “Dhoni”. While all these three movies tackle different issues as its premise, the message is the same.

But I am not going to talk about the school system but a different kind of pressures the kids face these days. I was watching the auditions for “Airtel Super Singer junior” couple of months back and the organizers (Someone absolutely brilliant) has decided to include 5-6 year old kid in the competition. It is unbelievable as these small kids will compete against 13-15 year old kids. No matter how talented you are it is almost impossible to compete and win in a competition with older kids over a period of a long season.

But again I am not going to talk about the competition format either. This is about a single audition when a 6-7 year old kid came in and sang a song and the judges put him on waiting list. The kid suddenly stopped on his tracks and asked the judges “Appo enakku Veedu kadaikatha?” (Which translates to “Does that mean I will not get the house?) It was extremely funny and showed the innocence of the child. The competition offers the winner a flat worth 40 lakhs (roughly $80000) for kids. Isn’t that ridiculous? Obviously however smart a kid might be you wouldn’t expect a 5-7 year old kid telling their parents that there is a house on offer so I want to take part in the competition.

The fact that the kid mentioned that means that how much the parents have drilled that thought into the kids mind. This also shows the pressure the kid was facing when put on wait list. Was he nervous what his parents would say if he does not get selected? No one knows. I never followed the show after that and don’t know if the kid was ever selected. I can’t believe that the parents would want the kids to go through such rigorous competition at a very young age even though they know that the chances of winning are miniscule to impossible. The channel is at fault here too why you would invite such young kids to compete, knowing pretty well that an offer of house will make the parents to get the kids to compete at all costs.

Now with these reality television kids are facing different kinds of pressure from the parents. Not only they need to be brilliant and get rank 1 in the class but they need to compete in reality competitions and earn the parents a home? Let the kids be kids and have a nice childhood. They are going to be at the loggerheads throughout their life in the rat race of a schooling system we already have. We don’t want them to undergo the stress of competing in a reality show (A concept which even the adults have failed to master) at the age of 6. Parent’s ticket to stardom should not be through their young kids who hardly know what they are doing there and what the competition is meant to be. Apart from all this they are to compete with 14 year olds? Well I am not sure what Vijay TV is thinking. I will be surprised if a 6 year old would make it to the end of the show (Which roughly runs for 1 year) and win the competition beating a bunch of 13-14 year olds. Anyways that concludes my rant. Parents in India seems like they will never stop pressurizing their kids more and more.

Education is a rat race in India

Education in India is not for the faint hearted. In the last week alone we had three students killing themselves due to the pressure of education in India. It’s really unfortunate that these kids had to resort to such extreme at a very young age. Education in India has always been this way, pressure filled. There are counseling sessions in India for the 12th STD students right after the results are announced to stop them from taking any extreme measures. The kids are made to believe that their life hinges on those scores and the system makes sure it does.

Kids are pushed harder and harder which makes education like taking a cough syrup in India. Lots of kids in India just despise education because of the pressure involved. The system is designed in such a way that the only thing which matters is the marks and the rank you get in classes. If what my teachers during my school days thought about me were true, I wouldn’t be where I am. Every kid cannot be the same and the parents and teachers should realize that. What can we make of an education system which awards the student who mugs up the text books the most?

Teachers praise those students to no end. So who is to blame for this outdated system? Is it the government or the parents who don’t realize that you don’t have to win every race to become a champion or is it the teacher who thinks the kid who best vomits the contents in the book on to a white paper is the most brilliant student. Kids get judged based on the marks they get even outside their schools. If someone fails in couple of subjects he is considered to be a bad influence on other kids.

Education is India’s wealth, we are known all around the world as brilliant people, techies and what not which makes me proud but at the same time we have to consider the fall outs too. Education is very important but it does not take precedence over a human life. There is place for everyone in this world to survive and succeed. You don’t have to be the most brilliant student to achieve greater things in life.

Teachers can help the kid to get better which not many of them try. Good teachers know to bring the best of their students but unfortunately we hardly have a hand full of them throughout the country. It’s not the system but the society and culture in our country which keeps kids in schools. If given an option India would also have similar situation to one in the US.

Lots of things have changed with time and that’s how it has to be. People and system evolve with changing times; the education system needs to evolve. Education should make kids curious, experiment, be creative and learn with interest which is hardly the case in India. Instead we teach our kids jealousy, competition, hatred etc at a very young age.

I watched “3 idiots” recently and it got me thinking that our system creates more Chaturs (A character in the movie who symbolizes most students in India) rather than aspiring to create more Aamirs (I can’t recollect his actual name in the movie). When that happens, our education system would be a better place for everyone no matter what marks and rank they get.