One of my pet peeves about today’s educational systems is that learning is no longer fun. The workload the students have, even in kindergarten and lower primary is staggering. They don’t have time to play as the number of subjects and amount of material they have to study is far beyond their capacity.
When I was in lower primary (in those days, there were no playschools and kindergartens) the only subjects that I had to study were Hindi, English and Mathematics in the first and second standards and Hindi, English, Mathematics and Science in the third and fourth standards.
Now a first standard student has to study English, Hindi, Mathematics, Environmental Science, General Knowledge, Computer Science, Moral Science, Projects, Social Science, History, Geography, Geology, astronomy Bla Bla Bla etc. So one can assume the amount of time the kids have to spend on studies leaving them little or no time to play or have fun.
I stay in indore now a big city might be 100 times bigger then my small village, but I never saw Kids playing on road, playing in a team, group, here, not even there.
Most of the textbooks are conceived and developed without giving any thought to the students’ age, knowledge, and capabilities. Most educational systems (CBSE, ICSE, etc.) do not have standard textbooks. So for the same subject there will be many textbooks available in the market. The quality, organization, logical flow, presentation and other pedagogical features vary drastically depending on the skill, effort, and expertise of the author, capability of the editors and designers, amount of money and effort the publisher is willing to allocate for the project, etc. The decision to choose the textbooks is with the schools and if one is lucky the school will buy a good book that let the students learn the subject from grounds-up and from the fundamentals to the advanced.
I have seen second standard Mathematics textbooks that teach addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in four successive chapters. By the end of the fourth chapter the poor kids are totally confused and have no clue about these arithmetical operations.
Sometimes I feel the primary objective of today’s educational system is to educate the parents rather than kids. The following are some of the examples of the projects given in the second standard in some of the schools around here:
Make the model of a tree and write a slogan about protecting trees.
Made the model of a clock.
Paste the pictures and write the names of national and state animals, birds, flowers, trees and fruits.
Create a herbarium.
Collect and write 4-6 poems about birds.
Write a paragraph about Mahatma Gandhi.
Make a chart with the pictures and names of the presidents and prime ministers of India.
Make a Christmas tree and write a sentence about it containing the eight parts of speech.
I don’t know how second standard students will be able to do these projects on their own. It is the parents who do them. So when the list of the projects for each term is announced the students are cool; it is the parents who are tensed! Almost all schools have a fascination towards model clocks. My nephew had the ‘make the model of a clock’ project for the first, second and third standards! If the same trend continues, I think my Didi will become an expert in clock designing and manufacturing.
Parents are also are partially to blame for this situation. If a school tries to lessen the workload, then many parents will rush to principal complaining. They will compare the syllabus with that of other schools and would insist on having more topics included. Since education has become a business, the schools will comply as they don’t want to get a bad name. But ultimately it is the poor kids who suffer. They are not only robbed of their childhood and its pleasures but also will grow into clueless zombies.
A few weeks back I saw Amir Khan’s <link outdated-removed> along with Ashwin (my nephew). Both of us were impressed with the muscles Mr. Khan developed for movie. I read somewhere that Amir spent one year building his muscles for the character in the movie. Since we have seen Taare Zameen Par before, Ashwin was really impressed with Amir’s new body and muscles, although he was more interested in the Polaroid camera that Amir carries with him.
A couple of days after watching the movie, I was teaching him General Knowledge as he had a test on that the next day. One of the things he had to study was the names of the Nobel laureates of 2008. It was really tough as there were there for Physics, Chemistry and Medicine. So there were a total of 12 names to study—names like Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi, Toshihide Maskawa, Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, Roger Y. Tsien, Harald zur Hausen, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Luc Montagnier, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio , etc.
After grappling with these names for about 30 minutes, I was getting tired, Ashwin was getting fed up, and we decided to call it a day. While closing the books and returning the study table to original position Ashwin turned and told me.
“Tomorrow onwards I am going to exercise regularly.”
“Why?” I asked. I was thinking of practicing yoga to combat the stress. I was also a little surprised as Ashwin was never keen to exercise and we usually have to force him.
“I want to have a body like Amir uncle.”
“But I always thought you hated exercising.” I said.
“Yes, I still do; but with a body like that I can write these names and if I forget I can look them up as Amir uncle does in the movie. It is better than wasting the time like this!”
It was a nice article... it has exactly portrayed the plight of poor children now a days.
It really made me worry that when i ll have kids.....how will I cope up with this pressure....
Its scary to imagine all that.... life is getting so tough....
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