Kapur writes in and tells us that he was greatly moved by a speech he
heard recently, apparently made by Azim Premji. Here is the gist of the
If you are a parent, you have many aspirations for your child that may include him or her becoming a doctor, an engineer, scientist
or another kinda parent, of successful professional. I believe these aspirations are driven by your thinking about your child's future, and her centrality in your life.
Since good education is often the passport to a good future, I presume it leads you to getting your child admitted to a good school. Then you encourage your child
to study hard and do well in the school exams. To bolster this, you
send him or her to tuition classes. This would have primed your child for board exam and entrance exams, thereby leading to admission into a good professional course. Doing well at college increases the probability of your child landing a good job. And a good job means your child's future is ensured.
I am neither a psychologist nor an educationist, and what I will now state may seem counter-intuitive. I think that these aspirations and actions might be doing more harm than good to your child. To understand why, we need to re-examine some of our fundamental assumptions.
In the first place, I have seen time and again that living for
some distant future goal also means you do not live in the present. The
distant goal will always translate into an external measure of success,
such as exams. And most exam - focused children start forgetting what
it means to be a child, to be curious, mischievous, exploring, falling, getting up, relating, discovering, inventing, doing, playing.
Childhood is very precious; precious enough not be wasted by the
artificial pressures of contrived competition, by too many hours of
bookish study and by school report cards that simplistically wrap up an
entire human being in numbers.
The second assumption is that education is merely a
ticket to socio-economic success. Given the state of our country, this
reality cannot be ignored. But restricting education to only this
aspect is, I think, a very limiting notion of the aim of good
education. The primary purpose of a school is to guide the child
in her discovery of herself and her world, and to identify and nurture
the child's talents. Just as every seed contains a tree, each child
is born with infinite potential. Imagine a school which sees children
as seeds to be nurtured. The teacher is the gardener who helps bring
out the potential already present in the child.
This is very different from our current view, which sees a child as clay to be molded - where teachers and parents are potters deciding what shape the clay should take. There is an old (and often forgotten) Chinese saying:
"Give a seed to a potter, and you will get a bonsai".
Even in a commercial organization, to make profits we do not have to
chase profits. Rather, we need to build an institution that gives every
employee an opportunity to do meaningful and fulfilling work.
Create an organization driven by values of innovation,
integrity, customer centricity and care. And as you practice these
values everyday and every moment, you will see the profits take care of
Similarly dear parent, this is my request to you. Do not give up your child's present to secure his or her future. Give your child the freedom to truly explore creative and life with abandon. In doing this, you will see your child
flower into a sensitive human being. And when this
happens, everything else - money, social success, security - will fall
into place automatically.
Let your child be a child.
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- The Indiaparenting Team