Let’s look back at the first institution of education you were introduced to, and see how it failed to teach you ‘Real World 101’.
The Internet is a wonderful place. You have grown up listening to the incessant debates on how social media and communication are a drawback for our generation’s growth. Your parents almost always blame your wretched cell phones for everything – from your flu, to your accidents. But the greatest thing about the Internet today is not just its ability to connect; but its ability to connect meaningfully with a space for discourse, dissection, and analysis through forums like Quora, Reddit, Tumblr, etc., which never cease to amaze you with the bizarre, informative, and yet strangely comic variety of questions and answers. In the Indian school student’s world though, the questions searched for on Quora are a sadly discomforting reality.
‘How do I score 100 in English CBSE Boards class 12?’
‘Which books to study for MCQ IIT JEE preparation in class 10?’
‘What are the important pages to study in Class 10th Science book?’
The thing is- you should not be scoring 100/100 in a paper like English, or be concerned with the MCQ of a competitive exam without knowing the concepts, or be asking for pages to study from in a grade 10 textbook. But that’s what Indian schools make you think you need.
In a classroom of 50 to 60 students, majority of the school teachers bring a prescribed textbook to class, write formulae on the board, read the text as it is, make you mark the ‘important points’, give you answers for ‘expected questions in exams’, and leave without encouraging you to think beyond the text; even reference material is discouraged. Rushing through the syllabus is a common phenomenon. Honestly, most school students in India, instead of feeling robbed of precious learning methodologies, feel glad because their entire focus depends upon the coaching centers where another cycle of spoon-feeding and keyword-vomiting occurs at a much higher price. As your schooling ends and your college classes begin, you have already become systematically habitual to run away from research, opinion-making, questioning, a and most importantly, believing that learning things is worth it.
This is not to say that the higher educational institutions in India are devoid of flaws. Even the best colleges have fundamental or deep-rooted issues that need to change. But when you sit in a college classroom where people don’t know you at all, your opinions set you apart. Unfortunately, you have been taught to stay firm on your lack of opinion and graded on your keyword-clad answers.
Even the competitions held at schools tend to throw the spotlight on a few selected students who always bring either glory or loyalty through continual participation. This practice of extreme favouritism towards some and lack of initiative by most in an institution as small as a school, where you spend more than a decade of your life, kill the spark of curiosity.
Those who are good at things begin to fear rejection and failure in colleges, buzzing with talent and enthusiasm, while the ones who were left out in school develop a sense of confidence in the lack of their capabilities. To be politically correct and not offend people, schools in India have evolved towards a sad dearth of awareness.
Above everything, what makes schools in India a funeral pyre of reality is the lie- ‘Study hard to score well in twelfth and you’ll enjoy for the rest of your life.’ This statement is a scam. It is an unsettling blow to the very principles of education. Your life will not be one of growth or joy unless you constantly learn, unlearn, research, analyse, and think with all your strength about your field of interest. There is no ‘thus, this is how it works’ to find success in your life beyond school. But the best plan is to know, and know it like your favourite song, your learning ends only with your life, and college is just the first step of learning- by unlearning.