By Punya Srivatsava
Can education equip a child to build his character, acquire self-esteem, pursue happiness, and find his perfect calling? Punya Srivastava profiles a few progressive schools pursuing this ideal with passion and dedication
Swami Vivekananda, that great Indian philosopher and venerable sanayasi, once said, “Education is the manifestation of perfection already (present) in man.”
The observation is both profound and pithy. What is education if not growing into our highest self and reaching our fullest potential; delving deep within and exploring the purpose behind taking a human birth? Education ought to be the compass that guides us along our life’s journey. It ought to be the process which enables a person to lead a successful life, which would mean being able to cope with its viccisitudes, to build healthy relationships, to find a meaningful calling, to develop one’s creativity, build one’s self-esteem and find happiness. It ought to enable a child to blossom into a well-rounded, healthy, wholesome adult who can contribute to society.
Well, you don’t need me to tell you that our education meets few of these parameters. Present-day education is largely about equipping a student for a livelihood, and not for life.
Over the years, our schools have turned into factories which compete with each other to churn out batch after batch of students who have perfected rote learning; kids who go on to become engineers, doctors, lawyers, and CAs. They take one exam after another; collect degrees and apply for jobs only for the sake of earning money. Kids as young as three are being admitted to pre-schools, and by the time they reach standard eight, are cautioned by teachers, parents and society alike to start preparing for the tenth standard board exams, whose marks will determine their lives.
From this perspective life becomes a succession of hoops a student has to leap through until he arrives at the Holy Grail of a well-paying and prestigious job. In the process the life journey becomes compressed into academics and marks-chasing, while the development of other innate talents and skills are given less weightage, character development is bypassed and the simple joy of living in the moment tarnished by the constant focus on passing exams.
Children are taught to compete, and are then categorised into boxes – winners and losers, above average and below average, intelligent and dumb, bright and dull. All these labels curb their innate
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