Note To Society: If It Kills, It Isn’t Education
Nineteen student suicides in 2015. Eight in 2016 already. That is just the reported number of suicides in one city; Kota, Rajasthan. After the suicide of 17 year old Kriti Tripathi last month, 2 more have followed suit.
19 year old Keshav was an aspirant of medicine, but had fallen short in the National Eligibility and Entrance Test. The other victim was Avanish, a 22 year old final year B.Tech student who consumed poison because he had not performed well in one of his papers.
In her note, young Kriti had displayed more clarity in understanding the depth of the situation than most others. Beginning to hate one’s current predicament is what drives change. Though turning suicidal was not at all a good solution, we need to consider one thing. The exam she had cracked is not all that easy, and does require focus and motivation. If a girl with such strong a will kills herself, how far have we pushed her? If she was successful in something she hated, how well could she have fared in something she was passionate about? But she had one realization that the vast majority are still ignorant about. Christian Dior said, “It is unforgivable to do what one doesn’t love, especially if one succeeds.” What good is “success”, if the yardstick is that of someone else?
Wrong choice of education stream
Both these students didn’t perform well in their chosen field of study, and have been led to believe that it is their fault. When in reality, their choices did not get along well with their innate abilities. Or worse, they were taught to believe that it is either the established set of options or nothing at all. We as a society, together with the media, have overly glorified a handful of streams, and portrayed it as money-making machines. Even that is regional, and depending on the part of the world you are, you get fed a different set of options. Even though there are so many teachers, journalists, lawyers, painters, writers, musicians, botanists, chefs, linguists, artists and athletes who have created history, we fail to acknowledge those as potential career paths for our children even if they have the skill for it, just because we think they are inferior. The only thing to be questioned is the limited understanding and lack of first-hand exposure that parents have on suggestions they give children.
Groundless and opinionated career suggestions
Everyone, from parents to the passers-by, who talk so highly of engineering streams; do they even have the faintest idea on how many different streams of engineering there are in modern times? They know nothing about the curriculum, the possible job opportunities, what the job entails or if the student has what it takes. And ours is a society cursed with such narrow-mindedness that we regard opinions more than facts.
Instead of playing to their individually unique strengths, they believe that the only way is to do better than the next million guys jockeying for the same position. There comes a time when a student neither cares about the subject nor the next guy, but sits through it anyway, because parents’ efforts shouldn’t go to waste.
Emotional warfare on students
When parents keep telling their children how much they suffer to make sure the children have a proper education, and that it is for their own good, the psychological warfare induces guilt. It forces children to do well in something they despise. No child wants to hurt their parents because they feel indebted. But does that mean parents own their children? Does that give them the right to force something upon their children?
There’s no safety in conforming
Children have to decide what to do in life, even before they’ve seen what life really is. They don’t even have the time to analyze, reflect, and figure out what they like. And that’s why most of them take up engineering, and an MBA before realizing that’s not their calling. About halfway into the first degree, they do start questioning their choice, but we’re a society that’s taught to be optimistic. To comply than to question. We have been taught to passively accept what we are told than to pursue with guts what we truly desire. We have been told to play safe by following conventional paths. Ironically, that is just what puts us in the greatest of risks. How many students have never heard from their campus placement recruiters for years? Say they get a job in a field they can barely stand, and get so bad at it due to lack of motivation, and eventually get thrown out; where’s security in that? They’d probably end up feeling more suicidal than ever.
It is time for change
It is high time we realized uniqueness is a trait to be celebrated, and there is no reason to become a duplicate of another personality. It is high time we stop forcing our children to become a replica of ourselves, or use them to attain goals we missed. It is definitely high time we stop inflicting groundless opinions on students and let them choose education and career paths that they feel motivated in and have the aptitude for. There is no shame in failing Math. It is a shame to not nurture what you are good at. There are so many problems that need the attention of young minds. Diverse problems that threaten human existence, like need for clean energy, drinking water and pollution. There was a time when hunting was the only means of survival, but that didn’t mean all future generations should take it up. Similarly, young generations should aspire to solve problems left behind than to become a part of the problem by following in the footsteps of the previous generations.