By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
The examition season is over for the school students. HSLC examition and Higher Secondary examition have come to an end. The examinees have heaved a sigh of relief — no longer late nights for them. So long for a couple of months they had to bear with some of life’s restrictions. Television was strictly banned for them and there was no loitering or parties with friends for them. They could not escape from home for an hour’s rendezvous with friends with a hawk - eyed mother checking their every move. For them they were the days of misery. It was a novel experience for them to be glued to those boring books for days together. So long perhaps most of them had never even thought of the examitions. But without being aware of the approaching monster they suddenly found examitions knocking at the door to their utter dismay. Filly they realized that life is not a bed of roses, roses all the way. There are prickly thorns as well. So, they had to get busy with guide books, notes, “sure success” and all these auxiliary hand books flooding the market. Students in this age hardly go through the text books; they may not even possess any recommended or approved books by the concerned authority.
The students today have become too much dependent on private tuition which has been regarded as indispensable for the success in examition. Once in earlier times private tuition was unheared of. But now parents chase the private tutors. In fact before getting their ward admitted to the scheduled institution they try to admit him/her into the private coaching classes, in case the door closes for them. That is the educatiol scerio today. The students think that they do not have to struggle with books, as they have their tutor to help them and as a consequence they lose their self-confidence. Too much spon-feeding is not good for the students. They should make their own effort to be successful in examition as well as in life. Private tuition merely saps their confidence and intelligence.
Now since the examitions are over they are free. I do hope that with all those guide books, notes and coaching classes they have done well and will come out successful. Now they can “eat, drink and be merry” and remain happy till the results are out. Who knows what is in store for whom. The fate of some of them may be sealed — and for some it would be the dawn of a bright future ahead. Going by the previous records it seems nearly certain that only a handful will be able to achieve brilliant success. Hopefully others also would come out successful.
It is an age of competition. Usually even before the results are announced, there is a mad rush for different institutions. Future plans are made by the parents usually without consulting the offspring. Once (not so long ago) examition was not something to be dreaded. Getting into some college or any institute was not very difficult. But now excellent percentage of marks are necessary for admission into a famed Institute. Some institutions, I believe, out side the state, demand a hefty amount as capitation fees for admission. So, money power is essential to get admission into some institutes, if the applicants do not have brilliant marks.
In earlier times education was not given due importance by the people at large. But now everyone has realized the value of education however stereotyped it may be. Every parent wants his/her child to be successful in life. All of them want brilliant career for the children. They want them to be highly established and successful. It is only tural. In fact, it is not the children , but their parents who are completing and who have dreams of a bright future. They lose their sleep and appetite during examitions, but not the examinees.
Belatedly I have realized to my horror that we are not really concerned about the well- being or success of our children —rather we are concerned about ourselves. It is self-love, which is prompting us to fulfill our ambition through our children. The children are not the least bothered about their future —but we are. We, the parents, are imposing our will on them . Parents want to shine before their neighbours and others through the success of their children . That is the crux of the matter. That is why children sometimes resent them. In TV shows little children can be seen in diverse entertainment programmes. In the shows the children work very hard and it is the parents, who bask under the mantle of children’s glory. But the children may not be happy.
Private tutors are engaged for the children from the nursery level. In many affluent homes private tutors are engaged for each subject. The child gasps under such heavy burden, of course it is a boon to the teachers. In earlier times they were paid only a meagre salary and they had to struggle hard to make both the ends meet. If we look back, the vision of a teacher emerges — a lean and thin man in dhoti and shirt walking around with a half-starved look. They were glad to augment their income through private tuition which was rare in that age. Only very rich families engaged private tutors for their children.
But now the picture has changed for the better. The teachers today are paid a very handsome salary. They are well- heeled and very well off. Still they like to increase their bank balance with private tuition. They run a parallel educatiol institution with class rooms arranged at home or in some hired room. Famous teachers are chased by the parents, as getting a seat in the coaching class is not easy. It is the teacher who calls the shots. They earn staggering amounts. In spite of all that money they love to multiply their earnings. Every body wants more money and we have nothing to say against that. The best part of it is that the Income tax people do not even get a smell of that money. But I am all praise for the private tutors. If other people can make huge pots of uccounted money, then why not the teachers?
I fervently hope that there would not be any killjoy (there are such people, you see), who would question the ethics of the educators. As to why these students need private tuition at all is another issue. They ask, don’t they teach anything worthwhile in their respective schools and colleges? Don’t the officially employed teachers, who get a hefty salary for their job, teach properly in the class rooms? Then what is the point of establishing all these schools and colleges at such a huge cost?
Anyway, let us not cast aspersions on the teachers who take private tuition. Afterall, they are doing a commendable job by helping the students to perform well in the examition. In a way, they also relieve the parents from tension and nervousness . That’s a good job, in whatever way you look at it.
The bogey of examition haunts the parents from the time the toddler gets into a school . Examition is a part of education and it should not be regarded as a horrifying thing. If they realize that examition is a factor in the process of education, then I suppose, they would not be so nervous. While I was studying in Kings College in London long back, I found that the students never bothered about examition and they never spent sleepless nights for making last minute preparations. The reason may be that they regularly studied for the whole year and attended their classes. So, they did not have to put any extra labour for the examition and they did not fear it. In case of our students, they while away the whole year in needless activities. Our students have become mini politicians and they spend their time on agitations or some issue or other. They forget that they are students and not some die-hard politicians. They remember their identity only when examition knocks at their doors. Hence the horror of examition pursues them and some of them become ill just before the examitions start. Cramming without understanding does not yield good result. If they are lucky, may be the answer will be correct. The problem is that if you try to memorize without understanding, the chances are that you will never remember. I may be wrong, but in my experience I have found that I cannot memorize anything, but if I understand the matter, I never forget it and I can write the answer in my own words.
The problem is that we tend to over estimate the caliber of our children. I don’t go within miles of a home where there is a candidate for some examition. I once visited a friend’s house just to wish luck to her son who was sitting for the HSLC examition. But I could see that the parents were not best pleased at the interruption. Possibly my arrival did disturb the candidate as well as the parents. I don’t make such mistake any more, since my well-meaning visit went astray. The problem is that there is an examition candidate almost in every home now a days. Hence, my socializing becomes strictly restricted during the exam season.
The horror of examitions seems to haunt the parents since the time the little kids are admitted into some school. The little toddler has to bear too much pressure on his or her tender mind. The other day a young relative of mine lamented that his son has not been able to attend his class for a couple of days as he happens to be ill. Actually he admitted his son to a play group class in a local nursery school this year. The little child has not even completed three years and he can only lisp a few words. The anxiety of the father because of his ibility to send the child to the school was not only amazing but amusing as well. He did not realize how much pressure he was putting on the little kid. The father was afraid that the little boy would not be able to do well in the class if he remains absent for long. I could have asked him not to be silly — but I did not dare, as it would have offended him.
I pity the little kids with their tight busy schedule — and I pity the mother more who has to accompany the kid from place to place to make him jack of all the trade, but master of none. The father can evade his duty on the pretext of being busy in the Office, though he might while away the time in idle gossip. Most of the modern mothers are educated and intelligent. turally the whole responsibility of their children fall on her shoulders. They are busier than the children, since besides accompanying the child to his various places of learning, she has to do some homework to prepare filly for any emergency that might arise.
The children of the present day are kept busy throughout the day. At dawn they go for private tuition. Then after a hurried meal they go to their respective schools. After coming home in the late afternoon with loads of homework, they go for some other extra- curricular activity. It may be swimming, music, dancing, guitar, tennis, gymstic or anything under the sun. The child must be skilled in everything and he must shine in all the activities.
In the evening they come home tired and sleepy, but there is no respite. They have to finish their homework. On Sundays also they keep busy with diverse lesson. Parents of course rarely bother about the likes or dislikes of their children. Every child does not like the same thing-but it is the parents who rule the roost and they impose their will on the children. They are determined to make their kids brilliant in every sphere. It is no doubt a very noble intention but all this heavy schedule — Is it not back- breaking for the little children? I wonder if the kids get sufficient time to eat and enjoy the food. I have seen children gobbling up their food and rushing out to attend various classes. At night they go to sleep, tired and weary, whereas the mother spends sleepless nights wondering if her child will be able to surpass others in his class and get the first position, and if it was possible to make him learn a few more things. All the parents want their children to be brilliant in every field — in studies, in swimming, in music, in art and in everything else, which is not possible.
Every one cannot be a genius and it is not humanly possible to shine in all the courses. The sooner the parents realize this truth, it is better for the children. Or, the children might revolt against this overwhelming, insensitive, overprotective “terrorism”. In their grim battle for success of the kids, the parents rarely think about the tender age, delicate bodies and vulnerable minds of the little children. Is it not terribly unkind and unfair? If only the parents had accepted the fact that every child is not a genius, life would have been so much simpler- and our children so much happier.
(The writer is a former Head, Department of Philosophy, Cotton College, Guwahati)