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Pitfalls Of Our Education System

Updated: March 17, 2012 3:56 pm

What happens in schools today symbolises all that is wrong with our education system with its undue emphasis on producing designer children rather than shaping them into universal human beings.

Before the dust has settled on the brutal murder of a school teacher by a 15-year-old student in Chennai comes the news that a 16-year-old student killed himself on the school premises, accusing his teacher of harassment It is quite shocking and disheartening to see the increasing number of violent and criminal acts among adolescents. Children resorting to violence to address their issues are becoming rather increasingly common. Living in an age where cold commercialization has eroded ethical values, we awake each morning to shocking reports of school boys indulging in armed robbery, rape, murder and snatching among other crimes. Not surprisingly, both these gruesome and tragic incidents have thrown up deeply disquieting questions on the role of both educators and parents, as well as the society as a whole. It surely does make one sit up and take notice. As parents and teachers, we have challenging and difficult times ahead.

What is it that makes the child do such a heinous act? Though factors galore, the fact remains that such shocking acts mirror the changes taking place in society. Violence and aggression have seeped into people’s conscience. They pull out guns at the drop of a hat. A spurt in road rage cases bears testimony to that. All these influences are robbing our children of their innocence. Schools cannot remain untouched when the world outside in a big bad one. And our children are becoming very much a part of their nasty scenario.

While several things are wrong with our faulty, mark oriented education system, extreme pressure brought by teachers on students to excel drives some youngsters to suicide. The main glitch is the over emphasis on learning by rote rather than with a view to acquiring knowledge. Rote education has to be discouraged at all costs as year end exams do not provide a valid measure of scholastic competence. It needs to be replaced with tools to unfold minds for inculcating learning, creativity, reasoning and last but not least, shaping one as a universal human being. If a student does not perform well in academics, this causes tremendous stress to not only students but also teachers. It is no one’s argument that a teacher does not want her student to shine in his studies. But surely he cannot be punished for not performing well despite doing his best. The failure of teachers to accept the limitations of their students and exert pressure on them to perform beyond their capacity makes them nervous and depressed. This leads to the hampering of development of their very psyche which is the basic aim of achieving education.

The dire consequences of this undue stress causes frustration motivating children to take extreme steps. Besides, a student with a poor academic record is chided and humiliated in front of the whole class which hits his image all the more. Perhaps this could explain the deviant behaviour of the boy as sudden pressure to perform from teachers and parents must have hurt his pride. While it is not uncommon for children to develop behavioral problems and give way to uncontrolled teenage angst, it would do well for every school to have a qualified counselor to address the problems of the students. Also, teachers should be trained to handle students without harassing them or making them feel inferior.

The attitude of the parents is no less to blame for the plight of our young ones who are already facing adolescent crises. They add to the child’s stress by entertaining unrealistically high expectations of him. Parents in India are evaluated on the basis of children’s achievements. And unless the child is seen as a super achiever, they feel unfulfilled. By and large, parents want designer children today where perfection is the name of the game. The pressure to perform and excel is taking the innocence and joy out of our children. We hardly see children playing in the streets these days. They are becoming computer and mobile phone addicts. Parents also indulge children by giving them excess pocket money making them seek unwarranted pastimes. But the Chief sufferer in this system is the child who is driven to perform rather than learn. This results in developing negative personality traits in him which get projected to later life even.

It is not only parents who push their kids under the illusion of achieving glory. It is the school managements also which want only good results rather than better students. As a result, schools put undue pressure on their students to obtain spectacular examination results. These institutes advertise the number of rank holders and professional college placements to create unrealistic publicity with a view to commodity education. Today, running an educational institution is a means of making easy money. Both private schools and coaching centres are mushrooming in India by the dozen. The selection criteria in some educational institutions give preference to money rather than merits.

The remedy to this insidious growth of faulty education system lies in getting to the root cause of the student’s behaviour. Blaming parents, school management, films and media are not going to solve the problem. The need to equip students with the skills needed to cope with the stresses and strains of life cannot be over emphasized; especially in the aftermath of the murder of a teacher in Chennai psychological counseling on how to improve behaviour among children will surely have a positive effect on students.

Education is not merely to make a living. The task of education is to guide and direct the child, without interfering with his basic human rights, like the right to enjoy childhood, in anyway. Since the aim of education is the complete development of a child, moral development which occupies an important place need not to be ignored and should be given due care. As Sir Aurbindo says “moral education is the education of heart without which no individual can be completely human”. Indeed, our education should reflect our humanness and humanity.

By Sunita Vakil

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