Yet another myth that haunts the modern parents is expecting their little ones to be a genius and always ‘First in the class’ right from pre-school education. When we got our first baby girl Sashi my wife and me were eager to put her in one of the premium schools in the Kindergarten at the age of 3. The concept of sending children to school at the age of 3 in India just started in early 80’s. For getting the school application we were to stand in the queue right from the night before relieving each one in turn. It was a great experience leaving our daughter in the LKG class on the first day seeing the pretty little children sitting in a colorful baby chairs with uniform.
Having grown up in Chennai where education is given the highest priority we as young parents meet always to discuss how our child is studying. I used to personally coach my daughter virtually ‘torturing’ her to get ‘ten out of ten’ marks in her ‘cycle test’ - the name given to the monthly test to instill competition among little innocent children. Like any other father I love my daughter so much and now regret for being a ‘tyrant’ as far as her studies are concerned. I recently read a quote, which reads as, “The hero who lives in the heart of the girl even after he disappears from the World is her father”. I am of the view that father always shows his softest side of his personality to his daughter except during academics. By our over anxiety as parents we create an aversion for studies by constantly nagging our children.
My wife and me used to stand in the main gate of the school along with many young parents to collect our daughter and also check out how much marks she got in the test. We used to see the other young parents scolding their little ones for missing quarter mark due to spelling mistakes! The mothers of those children got blood pressure at that young age due to their persistent anxiety about their children’s performance in the class. I am keeping track of many children who developed aversion to education due to their parents perennial nagging to score marks.
These days parent wants to love their children subject to they are scoring high marks! Alas! Where are we heading when we make love conditional? When children grow up everyone wants them to take science stream and score over 95% so that they can join engineering course and become ‘software engineers’. Alas what a mad paradigm to ruin the virgin intelligence of the children by measuring them by their marks in decimals? What could be the root cause of this syndrome? Let me give a different perspective.
Our children are our assets and the very reason we live in this planet; if you remove this purpose from the mundane parents they have no other purpose in their life. Education is one part of life as there are many dimensions to live our life completely with our loved ones. I agree that in countries like India there is always a gap between demand and supply. It is becoming more and more competitive to survive and ‘Mark culture’ is catching up. But who created it? It is we create the net and suffer blaming the system. A family is a unit of lovely relationship, which is the result of mutual recognition and love and let not children academic performance come on the way of this happiness. Please give a thought for the following perspectives.
Tip-1: Don’t magnify the role of education
Human beings have invented the system of education as one of the so-called civilization efforts. 200 Million years ago the GDP of the world was believed to be 0.1 billion US dollars which indicates that the human beings were living in the forest along with the animals and there was no concept of ‘value creation’ which lead to economy. Perhaps this era must have been the happiest period in human life as we were closer to nature and there were no heart attacks and diabetics. The nomads were keeping themselves alive by living together in a group and eating the animals of their choice. Later on the commencement of agriculture and industrial revolution lead to the complex system called ‘economy’ which lead to the requirement of many skills to survive more than merely hunting the animals. ‘Survival of the fittest’ theory by Darwin is more visible in the modern society.
As the civilization grew more and more complex skill sets were needed like engineering and information technology. Yet another development is gap between demand to supply creating chaos in the educational system bringing in tough competition and price one need to pay for getting a degree. Ultimately the so-called ‘Mark culture’, ‘Tutorials’ and ‘Capitation fee’ are haunting the mankind making them to pay heavy price for their children’s education. Parents have started searching for admission the moment the mother is pregnant! Today education is the best business to make money and least in quality and customer focus. Let us look at this social stigma with a different lens. Let us remember education is one part of life.
Tip-2: Education only polishes ones learning skills
Human beings come to this planet when they have born with a blank slate and get to know all the developments that have taken place in several centuries. As our life span is short, we have to gather all information, which will make us up to date in a shortest possible time and education is meant to do that. The basic education system does two things to human beings – one it provides information (mostly outdated) and other it sharpens our mind to learn and understand complex things. The later is more useful than the former. For example I studied mechanical engineering courses out which I could hardly apply anything in my professional career. Similarly all subjects such as history, geography, mathematics etc. hardly had any earthly use in my profession.
Tip-3: Poor academic performance is not the indicator of ability
It is very strange to know that many great geniuses like Einstein were school dropouts. When such great human being who’s IQ is over to 140+ while vast majority is around 100, it is strange to know they were rejected by academia? The only reason I could think of for their rejection from academia is they have gone far beyond the stupid educational system of mugging up and vomiting outdated information. They might have felt ‘Education is for birds’. Who knows your child may be the next Einstein in making and don’t judge him/her based on their marks. Bagwan Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Sankara never went to school but comprehended the entire Veda and wrote commentary. There is no connection between performance and academic degrees.
Tip-4: Great Leaders are not from premium schools
More than 80% of the corporate CEOs in the US are not rank holders or from premium B-schools but they have built great institutions and are the highest paid in corporate management roles. In fact they are generalist and intelligently chosen not to become specialist or else they would get stuck in one of those managers positions! Leadership is a state of a being and does not come from academic performance. Please build your child as a leader and not as a ‘Bookworm”. For example my daughter Sashi (whom I tortured for ½ marks in her LKG) is the CEO of our organization SSA Group of companies and pursuing her executive MBA from INSEAD. She demonstrated her leadership in many different ways in her professional career and taking the company to great heights as a visionary.
Tip-5: Degree is a ‘passport’ but not ‘visa’
We as parents think that once our children get a degree they will reach the highest position in their organization. We forget degree is a ‘passport’ by which they may get a job but their growth is a function of what they contribute to their organization. How a person become a most preferred resource to any organization depends on many skills, which is not provided by the educational system but acquired by the individual through self-development. In fact ones ‘personality & stature’ is the visa for growth.
One of the hypothesis is ‘Academic performance will get higher positions’. I tested this hypothesis in my professional and consulting career in the last 45 years and found one fact; people with average academic performance occupy all top management positions. On the contrary most of the rank holders have got stuck in their middle management positions in their career more for want of leadership qualities. I have just completed my book (to be published by Tata McGraw Hill) on the topic of leadership for which I studied and interviewed many corporate leaders. I found them different from common man not in academic performance but in their personality and leadership skills. If one analyses this data you will find no evidence for the belief ‘Academic performance will help in growing in corporate ladder’. Hence the paranoia of parents in pushing their children to score marks on the belief that they will reach position is false and baseless.
Tip-6: Education to lead to humility
Our life span is so short we cannot even scratch the surface of the vast reservoir of knowledge. As Avvaiyar said ‘what we have learned is like a spec of a sand in the ocean of universe’ and feeling arrogant about our degrees is a sign of foolishness. Rajneesh once said “You cannot put your degree after your name as you don’t remember or applied anything you have studied” I agree with him and Swami Sukhbodananda calls PhD as ‘Permanent head damage’. Ironically education is supposed to make us wiser; instead blotted our ego. Two professors in IIT don’t talk to each as they feel that they have over specialized in their own subjects and in the process lost their ability to communicate with other human beings! Alas! Is it what education for? – To alienate from the fellow human beings and feel arrogant? In fact education is more to know our ignorance as one Vedic seer has said “More that I know, I come to know that I don’t know”
Tip-7: Intelligence is more valuable than Information
Let us understand the difference between ‘Intelligence’ and ‘Information’ through a simple example. A farmer in the village knows everything that will make the plants to grow and yield grains but cannot explain how like an agricultural scientist. The agricultural scientist knows much information, which he has collected during his academic pursuits but may not know about certain finer aspects of the plantation. In other words the farmer has pure intelligence and the scientist has more of information. Many a times I have noticed my wife giving simple solutions out of her intelligence, which I complicate with all my degrees. I wonder why it missed my mind? The important point to note is education is not intelligence as the later helps to achieve better outcome in life than the former. Your child may be very intelligent but may not perform in the academic pursuits – don’t ask me why but it is so as I explained the example many geniuses above. If you judge the child with its marks you may fail to see the genius in him/her. Nurture the intelligence, which is a gift to your child.
Tip-8: Don’t putdown your child by silly remarks
It is wrong to judge the intelligence of your child from the marks he/she scores as the whole education system is based on memory. I asked one of the old academicians about how the 35 marks became the pass mark. He answered that human beings must at least reproduce one third of what they memorized. It is ridiculous to judge based on only memory as one can reproduce without understanding anything. From this stupid educational system those who score high marks does not mean that they have understood the subject. Mathematics gave problem to many children not because it is abstract or difficult but due to the fact the parents often said, “You can’t understand mathematics” and programed the child’s sub-conscious mind and created repulsion towards this wonderful subject, which sharpened the logical mind of human beings.
In summary the little genius has infinite possibilities to manifest his / her intelligence as may be the Leonardo Vinci or Einstein who knows. Remember if your child is not so good in academics it means a genius is waiting to manifest – Nurture him/her. Who knows? He could be a CEO of large corporate.
Be a wise parent. God bless your Child.
Many more myths to follow