In these days of FaceBook and Twitter, most of us would have come across this meme.
Most if not all of us would have nodded (and would still nod) our heads in agreement. Complaints about the education system are very common. Everyone knows it’s broken. Everyone knows it doesn’t educate children. Everyone knows it kills imagination and the ability to think on one’s own. Everyone knows it is more uni-dimensional than a straight line. Everyone knows that it is a factory that takes in beautiful little children and processes them into “finished” (pun fully intended) goods barely fit for employment in routine jobs requiring little or no creativity.
The real mystery in all this is where these complaints vanish when people, read parents, make decisions about the education of their children. I live in Tamil Nadu where everyone knows that the State Board system dumbs down education so much that the student can get a full score in an exam while knowing nothing about the subject other than the lines in the textbooks that he/she would have memorised. But then for a school, the easiest way to fill its classrooms and have thrice as many more clamouring for admissions is to announce that it is a State Board school.
A nationally renowned board of education has the year so filled with assessments that children hardly get time to breathe before the next assessment lands on their little heads. Teachers have their hands so full with all the reports on the assessments to be sent to bureaucrats in Delhi (heaven knows what they do with all those reports, but nothing good seems to come out of all this paper pushing) that there is hardly any time for them to think about how to improve the education they are delivering. But then just mention the name of that Board and even a new school launched by a notorious bootlegger would have a mile long queue of people clamouring for admission for their child.
There are times when difficult choices are called for. For parents of today, that time is now. If you think something is seriously wrong with what is being offered to your child in the name of education, please do something about it. Try to understand what good education should be like (more on this in my next blog). Explore options on offer in the market to understand which ones fit those. When you know exactly what lies at the end of a certain road and you know that’s not what you want for your child, do not keep going back to it because it appears “safe”. Throwing good money after bad money rarely, if ever, works. A good education is the best gift you can give your child. Your child is going to grow up just once. It is indeed your responsibility as a parent to ensure that this one-time opportunity is as rich and deep as possible so that your child has the greatest chance of realising his/her true potential.
Many people think that parents looking for quality education outside the “established, tried and tested” system are taking a risk with their child’s education and future while those going with the system are playing it safe. Frankly, the exact opposite is true. Since the system is broken, your child’s entire education is at risk when you keep him/her confined within the system. It is only outside the system that good quality education is available. There is no risk in choosing that option, provided you do your research well.
In my 15 years of coaching over 5000 high school students, college students and graduates every year for the CAT, the GRE, recruitment tests and even the IIT JEE, I have been witness to hordes of students short-changed by the “education” system and sent out practically empty-handed. In the coaching business, we were enabling these students overcome all the handicaps the system had forced on them. While that was satisfying, it was not enough for us at a professional level, which is why we started a school. Today, as we run a school committed to excellence in education, I find it refreshing every time I meet parents ready to act on their realisation, and eager to understand and seek quality education for their children. Talking to them tells me there is hope for the future and leaves me wishing them “May their tribe increase!”