October 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
India’s education system needs to wake up and say hi to the 21st century. While the rest of the world surges ahead, India clutches on to its safety blanket of “tradition”. Well, here’s an idea, instead of bringing about radical (almost desperate) changes such as the CCE, why not see what the students have to say?
I speak from personal experience and this is not a frustrated rant. My CCE days are over, but I can still remember how hard it was. In my opinion, and to be honest, in the opinion of everyone I know, CCE has done very little if anything, in reducing the burden on a child. Let’s be honest, just because there is a more lax grading system, it does not mean that students are free from the expectation to do well. I honestly don’t see how the pressure of getting a perfect 10 cgpa in grade 10, is in any way better than that of getting above 90% marks. Looking at it objectively, it seems to me that CCE has added the pressures of extra curricular activities while doing little to alleviate that of academics. Of course I’ll admit that to students who are not all that academically oriented this may be an advantage, but to what degree? and more importantly, to what end? So the students pass 10th grade, and then what? They aren’t offered the same bonus in higher grades or in colleges and universities (in India).
There is an abundance of interviews on the internet, that quote students saying that they feel like they are being watched all the time. They are not able to be free and let their guard down for fear of being marked negatively. And I agree. I went through the exact same thing. And then there was the endless paper cutting and copy pasting articles off of Wikipedia for school projects. So is this supposed to be CCE teaching us the lost skill of cutting and sticking? Tell me this, if you are incorporating so many, many new features and activities, while not reducing the academic syllabus, what exactly are you trying to achieve? Frankly, it seems to me that CCE was a well meaning attempt at modernizing the education system, but due to the serious dearth of foresight and planning on the part of the education council, it has been a huge disappointment. Don’t be fooled by what you hear of in the news, if you want the real picture, talk to the students and teachers. 95% of them will tell you the exact same thing I did. What I don’t get is how the education council can be so blind? Aren’t they supposed to be the smart insightful ones?
Moving on to Senior Secondary education in India, what infuriates me the most, is the meek accepting attitude that Indians have adopted to it’s flaws. It is no secret that grade 11 and 12 (particularly for students in the science stream) is a nightmare. (And to all you geniuses out there, who think grade 11-12 is a breeze, forgive me, but i speak on behalf of regular students.) Consider this, right up until grade 10, CBSE students learn two to three new concepts every year. And then grade 11 and 12 comes upon them, where they find themselves dealing with 10 new concepts every month. What I ask, is the logic behind this? Do students cross some magic line from grade 10 to grade 11, that makes them suddenly,500 times more smart? Or is the year made 5 times its usual length for 11th and 12th graders? This is widely known and sadly, accepted. I know Indian students have been branded “smart” and have a worldwide reputation for doing well and making things happen. But what percent of them? With India’s huge population, even if 50,000 children go on to become successful, it is an almost insignificant fraction of the whole. What about the rest of the kids? Do they not matter? Even if we choose to ignore the vast disparities is success rates, can we ignore the the ordeal that the students face? Especially those students who have their decisions dictated to them. Every family needs a doctor or an engineer or a banker. Painters, writers, singers… disgrace upon the family. India has one of the highest student suicide rates in the world. Anyone with a shred of sense can correlate this to the stress the majority of the students face. No living creature in God’s earth likes to be trapped. So when these students feel like their very lives are trapping them in, is suicide really an unthinkable option to them? Is it really okay for so many children to take their lives, out of frustration, as long as there are a few others who make it big?
And then there’s the question that everybody asks but nobody answers, is Indian education efficient? To the best of my knowledge, rote learning is the accepted norm in Indian schools. Unless a student has the good fortune of being taught by a teacher (rare occurrence, might I add) who believes in imparting actual knowledge of the subject rather than “how to get more marks”. Universities and colleges in India are no better. The practical edge to knowledge is almost non existent. A student will be able to tell you everything about a topic without having the slightest clue as to what it is. Is this knowledge? Is this what education is? Some people (narcissists or nationalists, call them what you will) will indignantly defend their beloved country that can do no wrong, and say that Indians are the ones who do the actual grit work of all major companies. And they are absolutely right. But here’s my question, why are they doing all the grit work? Why aren’t they on top? If they really are that smart, that qualified, why are there so few Indians who make a name? Why do most of the contracts go to China and Japan, not to India? Why is India so far behind in everything? I think there is one answer to all of this. The root cause is education.
The very admission process system of Indian Universities will get across my point. Here’s something a lot of people might not know. For all the noise that’s being made about “all rounded education” in India, Indian Universities do not look into extra curricular activities. The only criteria (science universities in particular) look ONLY at your grades. So it doesn’t matter that you were the president of your school’s debate team and started a volunteering community for poor children. Colleges just don’t care. Which is why, these universities produce know-it-all graduates, not smart or knowledgeable graduates (not generalizing, but speaking for the majority).
I am aware that there really is no other path for Indian teachers and professors to take, because the Indian curriculum and system is such that it pushes them into a corner. I know absolutely well that the teachers are just trying to do the best for the students. I do not blame them, but the system. Agreed, every system has it’s flaws. But shouldn’t we at least try to fix these flaws? If not to improve the quality of education, then to save the thousands of lives that are lost to suicide? What do we want students to get out of their education- marks or an actual education?
I won’t say nobody has done anything about this. There is an ever increasing number of movies decrying the Indian education system (who didn’t love “3 Idiots” ? :’) ) and more and more people are joining the cause to bring about a change. News channels, newspapers, protests have all volleying for this cause. Maybe if there wasn’t so much corruption a lot of the education reforms might have had some real impact… but what you gonna do, it is what it is. I just hope for the sake of the future of India and also for that of it’s youth, things will change for the better and change soon.
October 17, 2014 § Leave a comment
Eyes so large and full of fear,
Now more dead than alive,
For they have lost all that’s dear,
They smile, seeing death arrive.
How can you see such flesh and bone,
And hurt them, make them bleed?
Your heart must be made of stone,
Of humanity you’ve been freed.
You are worthy of nothing but contempt,
You make my rage so wild,
For there’s no evil that’s more damned,
That hurting an innocent child.
Your very existence is a shame,
But I swallow down my hate,
For black as you have made your name,
You won’t escape your fate.
You look a child in the eyes,
And raise your hand to hurt,
You pay no heed to the cries,
You are just human dirt.
But truly I feel sorry for you,
You are nothing but a shell,
You know what I say is true,
You know it very well.
You cannot trade in human life,
Has greed and power made you blind?
Into their hearts if you thrust a knife,
That would be a lot more kind.
I pray that you’ll find your way,
Cast away the life you’ve lead.
For if like this you were to stay,
You’d be much worse than dead.
I yearn to take those little hands,
And guide them through the miles,
Bring them into better lands,
Where they might find their smiles.
And if their torment is not to cease,
Their lives they are not to keep.
Then maybe they should find their peace,
In the eternal embrace of sleep.
October 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
Have you ever seen a cloudy sun streaked sky,
And wished to soar in it?
Have you ever seen an old ivy covered wall,
And wished for a knight on a white horse?
Have you ever been surrounded by old dusty books,
And felt like you have everything you could want?
Have you ever looked upon the ocean,
And wanted to lose yourself in it?
Have you ever seen dew on a flower petal,
And felt devotion build up in you?
Have you ever seen a castle nestled in a mountain,
And wanted to know what stories it has to tell?
Have you ever seen a candle flame dance,
And had your soul dancing with it?
Have you ever during a cold wintry night,
Cuddled up with your favorite book?
Have you ever wanted to pack up your things,
And be a dweller of the earth?
Have you ever seen a shooting star,
And wished for an older time?
Have you ever looked up at the night sky,
And felt awed by its mystery?
Have you been proud and humble,
Have you loved and lost?
Do these things, or some others,
Make your heart race, breath quicken?
Have you ever lived in dreams,
Had an intoxicated soul?
October 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
Sixteen year old Grace waited outside the karaoke bar for her family. They were supposed to come pick her up after her shift at the supermarket. They were going to go out for dinner to celebrate her little sister, Bethany’s fourteenth birthday. It was a cloudy, foggy night, not much visible beyond a few meters. A group of young people, in their mid twenties perhaps, came out of the bar, seemingly in high spirits. They seemed to be intoxicated. Grace saw them get into a jeep car. They shouldn’t be driving right now, she thought to herself. While driving under the influence was bad enough, in weather so foggy, it was downright reckless. She decided to say something to them. Yes, she would definitely say something. They were endangering other people’s life as well.
They pulled out of their parking spot just as she started walking towards their car. She still cannot figure out which came first. The assured feeling that something bad was about to happen, or the cold dread she felt at seeing her family car pulling up to the driveway.
Her scream pierced the night air as the cars collided in a deadly dance of flames. She remembered every detail with crystal clarity. The sound of the cars colliding… the heat from the flames brushing across her face… the anguish at not being in the car with the rest of her family. She remembered as though it had just happened. It had just happened.
Grace sat in the waiting room and relieved her worst 5 minutes of life over and over again. She waited for the doctor to tell her if she was to have a family. Sixteen year old Grace waited in the hospital for her family.
October 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
I am not a professional writer, I just have some things to say. I am so happy that there are people who want to hear me and like what I have to say. Thank you, for all the follows and likes and for even just reading this blog.
I’ve decided to start a serialized novel, Emma, as some of you might have seen. This is a story about a young girl, Emma, and her journey to adulthood. I’ll try to post at least one new chapter every week. I hope you like it, and I would love some constructive criticism. Like I said, I’m no author, but I’d like to know how you think I could improve.
Again, thank you so much! If you like what you see, do follow the blog and maybe tell your family and friends about it, because it really is very encouraging and means a lot to me 🙂
October 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
You will not find a more beautiful Saturday morning, than that of Amberville in spring. If the blue sky flecked with wispy white clouds and a sun that seems to smile in welcome doesn’t convince you, the people of Amberville surely will. A perfect suburban town, the residents of Amberville are very proud of their picturesque little town. On a spring Saturday morning, such as today, you’ll find most people out doors, having a family picnic, getting together to go hiking in the nearby Woody Hills, or, like the Reed family, setting out for a day at the Whitestone Beach.
The Reeds were a small family of four. Mr and Mrs Reed had met in University, and became best friends. And as it often happens, friendship soon turned into something more. They married in the year 2000, and had daughters Emma and Elizabeth in the year 2001 and 2004. Mr Reed was an architect who headed his own firm, while Mrs Reed was a much adored Professor of Literature at the Amberville University. Thirteen year old Emma was on top of her class, Captain of her school’s lacrosse team and the head of the junior prom committee. Ten year old Elizabeth, or Lizzie as she was better known, was quickly gaining a reputation for her dance skills. While she had a natural talent for picking up any dance form, she favored ballet more than any other. Needless to say, the Reeds were one happy, content family.
That Saturday, they reached the beach at around 10 in the morning after a two hour road trip. Lizzie and Emma tumbled out of the car with cries of joy, and it was hard to miss the twinkle of excitement in Mr and Mrs Reeds eyes as well! The Reeds owned a charming little cottage at the beach, which is where the family now went, to freshen up.
“Daddy daddy can me and Emma go collect some sea shells now? Please daddy please please pleeeaase?”. Mr Reed laughed at his daughters’ excitement and said they could go as long as they promised to be careful. The waters at the beach could sometimes have a strong undercurrent. The girls promised to be careful and ran barefoot to the sea shore. Mr and Mrs Reed joined them soon, and after splashing around in the sea and a game of volley ball with the Anderson family, both the families decided to lunch at the seafood place at the beach. While the parents enjoyed cold beers, Emma, Lizzie and Daniel, the Anderson’s 12 year old son, had ice creams and made a truly beautiful sandcastle. Mr Reed walked up to the kids and saw the sandcastle. “Wow, that really is amazing! We could use some heads like yours at the office!”, smiled Mr Reed. The rest of the trip was relaxing and fun, more or less uneventful other than Emma being chased by a crab.
After a wonderful stay at the beach, on Sunday evening, the Reeds packed up and set out on their way home. The girls fell asleep in the backseat on the way. Mr and Mrs Reed saw them, and then looked at each other. “I love you Katie”, whispered Mr Reed as he looked into his wife’s lovely face. She smiled and said, “I love you too, Dave”. Everything was perfect in the Reed’s world. They couldn’t be more happy.
October 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
I will be who I want, my life is just my own.
Don’t tell me what I can or can’t, I’ll reap what I have sown.
You say I am rebellious, well then rebel I will be,
There’s really nothing you can do, for finally i’m free.
Anywhere you care to look, a free-er being you will not find,
For you can have everything, but you cannot have my mind.
I’ll believe and hold my faith in what I think is true,
I’ll love all I think is good, wont hate because you do.
I can walk with company, or I can walk alone,
But I will walk my own path, not one that you have shown.
Holding my head high up, every barrier I will cross,
If you don’t believe it, well, that’s just your loss.
Hit me with your hardest, push me to the ground,
I will get back on my feet, you will not see a frown.
Who think I can’t are many, who think I can are few,
But that’s not going to stop me, I’ll prove what I can do.
Soon you’ll know, there’s more to me than perceived at first sight,
Soon you’ll know I’m not the kind to give in without a fight.
I do not fight for power, nor for wealth and fame,
If such things I did fight for, all I’d get is shame.
I fight for love and hope, for understanding and peace,
Greed for other selfish things, I know wont ever cease.
As I walk my own made path, I have but one bequest,
Many a mind wont be like yours, still show them some respect.
What if a brilliant soul cannot put up a fight?
We’ll then lose that brilliant soul, forever lose it’s light.
Each human is a different color, each soul a different hue,
I can see the beauty here, so why can’t you see it too?
We were not born as us, born unique, merely to follow,
If we cannot be ourselves, our lives will be just hollow.
Let us all be free today, and free all those we chain,
Let us all choose our own journey,taking our own train.
Finally I have freed myself, this cannot be more true,
Can you also do the same, can you claim freedom too?