Please Follow the Path: Rote-Learning–Degree–High Salaried Job

“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds”, goes a famous quote, which actually may seem meaningless or sound stupid to the average Indian (middle-class) parent. In most of the emerging economies, including India, parents hope for their children to be successful; health and personal well-being are considered as obsolete terms. One of my relatives was very concerned about his son. He was worried that his son’s memory power and concentration abilities aren’t up to the mark as it was a year before. I am worried over the escalated scrutinizing power of this parent because it wasn’t right to judge a 6 year old 1st grader in this manner. We often see our Prime Ministers and Presidents addressing media, and talking with foreign dignitaries about quelling the foreign terrorist threats. In my humble opinion, the Indian education system and the majority of Indian parental mindset are the biggest terrorizing forces which may deplete the life out of Indian kids.

Indian Education System

As educational experts have repeatedly pointed out, there’s something very wrong with a society that affords its resources, time, and energy to prepare students for exams, which directly equates it with student’s worth (or intellectual ability). The kids need to follow the path. Their transition into adolescence and subsequently into adulthood would be strictly associated with exam scores and through the capability to secure a job after graduation. The vision the education system creates is that of a overly crowded simple suspension bridge. One should cling onto the ropes on either sides and reach the other side; those who fall through are considered as failures and never given the chance to rise up.

‘Oh god! You haven’t scored enough marks in the NEET exams to fulfill my dreams of making you a doctor? It’s ok. You can study for a whole year in the tuition centers to prepare yourself for national exams and then fulfill my wish’; ‘You haven’t got a medical seat in India? It’s ok as a ‘loving’ parent I will take a loan and send you to Ukraine or Philippines or some other obscure country for a doctor degree’. On one hand, the students must succumb to parents’ ‘lovely’ dreams. On the other hand, there’s the socially rigid or inflexible labor market, which stigmatizes our little failures in education.

When social implications and cultural demands eschews individuality and remains out of pace with economic reality, it unearths chaos. Once it was thought that it would be relatively secure or even impossible for a white collar worker to be laid-off. That has radically changed, yet the expectancy is to maintain the status quo; to survive with a steady job and wallow with materialistic aspirations. Mandatory educational qualifications and job credentials gives us the respect in our society. We are nation of people subjected to sub-standard education and consequently trapped in dead-end jobs. The educational, familial and work institutions are plagued with the notion of deep sense of political and social conservatism. Touching the ‘victory’ line of well-paid employment is the primary goal; the idea to address the existing forms of rotten power structures and social inequalities would immediately saddle one with the ‘social outcast’ title.

The Japanese are always great at naming the emerging trend of modern human behaviors. I like the Japanese word’ Tsundoku’ – used to denote the condition of acquiring more books and not actually reading them. Similarly, they came up with the interesting word ‘Hikikomori’, which literally means withdrawal. It’s a phenomenon afflicting the Japanese society that tagged alongside the nation’s economic boon in the 80s and only heightened after the 90s ‘period of economic stagnation’ (also known as ‘Lost Decade’). The Japanese government officially uses the word ‘Hikikomori’ to denote people (mostly between age group of 15 to 39) who haven’t left their homes or interacted with others for at least six months. At least half a million Japanese (or between 541,000 and 679,000 people) face this condition. The well-known stereotype of the word is young Japanese male, confined to his bedroom, playing video games or watching manga episodes, shunning the contact with outside world (the other stereotype is to perceive ‘Hikikomori’ as prone to extreme violent acts).

‘Hikikomori’ both refers to the person as well as the condition. It is approached as a ‘culture-based syndrome’ rather than a psychiatric disorder. The hikikomori’s mostly hail from (well-educated) middle-class families and their self-imposed isolation is seen as the result of Japan’s burdensome education and work cultures. Despite Japan’s great industrial advancement it is said to be a risk-averse culture; people preferring cubicle jobs over entrepreneurship (which is alleged to be changing slowly). Sociologists, anthropologists, and psychiatrists for more than a decade have debated over this Japanese emotional ailment, trying to determine the remedies. While the Indian society doesn’t possess such stocks of intriguing terms, it also faces the similar threat of producing socially disengaged and unskilled youngsters.

Pic credit: warscapes.com [Hikikomori: The Postmodern Hermits of Japan]

The education should actually alleviate social and economic mobility. The elite belief of seeking credentials and the ill-fated education system does the opposite. It’s often said that ‘India is the land of myth and dreams’. The nation’s ever-trending myth is the perception of schools and universities as centers which instill skills of critical thinking; regrettably, the centers that serves as cemetery of dreams.

 

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  • Pratikshya Mishra

    So true… We need more art here than success… Or even money…

    Wrote something on these lines:

    If I go to a foreign land to study the subject of your choice, it would give you enough to talk about with your friends and family, enough to inflate your ego and boast infront of your colleagues. You’d also like it if I get a job there and get settled with lots of money. But it would be you again to complain of ’empty-nest’ and say that I left home to find success and prosperity. People would see me as the culprit, and ignore that it was you who forced me to go after riches and forget my dream. And the most important thing in the whole process is that i would do a great disservice to my being and my dreams.

    I forgive you for not supporting me in any kind of realisation of my dreams, for not encouraging me but thwarting my aims as being disillusioned, not worthy enough to be pursued, being devoid of a good scope for building a career in it. I forgive you for the taunts that hurt me ever so often. I forgive you for your words of discouragements, words that make me feel low, unimportant, moral degrading my confidence. I forgive you for not allowing or teaching me to make my decisions on my own. For imposing your decisions on me, as if my opinion does not matter. I forgive you for not celebrating my small achievements, and always demanding for more.
    I forgive you for not respecting my dreams.

    I want to make my own path in this life , in this universe . I can’t continue living the life that you choose for me . I need to leave home. Soon.

    • Arun

      Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing. Those who thwart or don’t respect the child’s dreams turn their life into a nightmare.

  • Pranju Chakrapani

    More than anything, the parents should inculcate the sense of individuality in the children. I don’t care about isolation of a child if he wishes for it as it would be his choice, but to force a child to isolate from the world, by instilling a pride in having a herd mentality, for the sake of getting marks and medical / engineering seats is the worst cultural abberation a parent can create in his child’s mind.

    • Arun

      Yes, the stringent educational goals indirectly thwarts student’s sense of self and individuality.