Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s education reforms for Class 10 board exams are indeed visionary. But caution has to be exercised that urban middle class children are not pampered into thinking that anything that causes ‘stress’ is evil and should be attacked and, worse, not be even attempted.
Encouraging students to abuse their teachers, hate their books, throw metaphorical tomatoes at all centres of excellence is to encourage an illiterate lumpen rage against anything that isn’t dumbed down to the shocking level of intellectual nothingness that we seem to be comforted by these days. If our children cannot use proper grammar, if they cannot spell, if they are unable to sit for examinations, if they are unable to speak a language correctly, if they are unable to study because they are turned off by stress, if they are led to believe that all effort is a waste of time, is this the kind of generation we want to rear as future citizens? Saraswati is a gentle goddess. Maybe we need to change our mode of worship, but let's not disrespect her.Yet, at the core of the film is a dark and troubling cynicism about the future of India’s young. The technicolour fun and games conceals a destructive anger and a condescending disdain for all those across India who may be aspiring to join centres of excellence or study or teach in them. The incredible popularity of the film shows that as a nation we are in no mood to study and are delighted that idiocy is at last legitimate.
(Read the full article - it's about 3 Idiots - here.)
What troubles me about this is that the opinion is saying, "Yes the education system needs reforms but as students you shouldn't be asking for them."
Or "Ask for them, but nicely"? I'm a little foggy about what the article is supposed to mean.
Several points here:
1. Anything that causes stress in children is evil. (I'm not talking about kids who've left school, but younger ones definitely.) Because at that age it isn't about how stress is a good teacher, or how it teaches you to cope with life, yada yada. Don't be ridiculous. Munnu wants to play.
2. "Encouraging students..."? :) With or without encouragement, most of us are abusing teachers, hating books and throwing tomatoes at those so-called centres of excellence. Maybe it's time to stop treating us like little kids and just get the fact that if something makes millions of young people unhappy and frustrated, it can't be right? Or is that a privilege that is restricted only to adults?
Also, these centres of excellence of yours - many of their students hate them. And these students are supposedly some of the best minds of the country - can they all be wrong?
3. What's so "illiterate" and "lumpen" about the rage against the system? Most students, if you probe, will be only too happy to tell you what changes they want. Yes, we know that many are not possible in a country of this size, but even a beginning will do. There's nothing inarticulate about that.
4. "...is this the kind of generation we want to rear as future citizens?" Probably not. But since when do children (irrespective of generation) turn out to be what their parents wanted to rear them into? :P Frankly, dear woman, what you wish to rear us into is immaterial. Save yourself the worry of what will happen to this nation when we join the workforce. Worry about the number that'll be too burnt out or too narrow-minded or too rule-book-ish when it joins the workforce. More real concerns. It happens every year, in fact.
5. Saraswati is a gentle goddess? Let's not disrespect her? Touching indeed. :D So now, I take it, my beloved Mumbai University is Saraswati? :D
6. What, by the way, is this obsession with centres of excellence? Quite starstruck we are.
7. We're delighted that idiocy is at last legitimate? What's to be delighted - doesn't the existence of our education system prove it? :) It's idiotic and it's been around for generations.
8. This isn't destructive anger. It's more helpless anger. Because the same students who rant against the system and hate the system are still in the system. I am. You are. What's destructive, Ms. Ghose? We're still in this system that you seem so keen to defend. No one's rebelling. No one knows how. And we all assume that it's just for the next year, or two. Then we'll be done with our education, and glad to be rid of it.
Nope, there's nothing destructive. But what's sad is just this - that there's nothing constructive about our anger either. :)
Just as a general aside - when you want reforms in public health, you'd ask doctors and patients. Infrastructure, industrialists and junta. (Ideally at least). And so on and so forth. How is it, then, that when it comes to education, it's always Kapil Sibal, and school teachers, and PTA members, and child psychiatrists? Why do we forget the people who make up the largest portion of education - students?
Is it because students are expected to hate the system? Do you assume that no matter how good the system is, we'll still hate it? Or do you just not credit us with the maturity to talk about this? What is it?
Because I'm dying to find out why universal student requests (update the syllabus, make it practical, reduce the workloads, focus on extra-currics) - all of which are legitimate and feasible requests - are ignored year after year, while our politicians continue to discuss if there should be 90% quotas for SSC students in Junior Colleges.