Small minds...big pressure

I chanced upon this really sarcastically funny comic called 'Moderately Confused' by Jeff Stahler on (that's what I read when I am suffering from bouts of insomnia). Aaaaanywayyy, there was this particular comic which had me laughing and crying at the same time (I can't reproduce it here because of copyright issues) - it has this little kid, barely three feet tall, carving a lifesize statue of David by Michelangelo. A little girl looks on with a little sculpture of a duck as the kid asks "What did you sculpt for your preschool admission test?"

The exasperated look on the girl's face to me is the classic irony in our life today - we want our kids to grow up as soon as they have hardly started speaking. And why do we do this? My theory is this: As time progresses, our demand from life is exponentially increasing. We want as much as we can dream, and more. Since we have not defied age yet, we have to achieve the most out of this life and we want children to get into this mindset from the beginning, so that they can, so to say, be more successful.

The problem here is that what we are doing here is robbing them of the right to be carefree, to make mistakes and learn from them. The harrowing process starts from the time parents seek admission in pre-school or nursery. Why does the child have to be a baby genius to get through? Why can't he/she be just a child?

There's this lovely movie which was running recently, called Little Miss Sunshine which again focused on the 'adultification' of kids. The movie is about a young girl called Olive who wants to participate in a beauty contest for girls and is blissfully unaware of the status such contests have achieved. Her shocked father looks at the horrifying contestants who look like mutated versions of beauty queens miniaturized. When Olive does a dance which can be termed as 'lewd' it is the turn of the other parents to be shocked - ironic, considering what they are doing themselves.

Isn't it enough that older children are ruining their childhood slogging for IIT/IAS/MBA and what-not competitive exams? Isn't it enough that the rat race is tougher when we go out to work? Then, why are we punishing little children by expecting them to grow up when they shouldn't? Why pressure them to perform exceptionally well?

I do hope that one day we realise what we are doing otherwise we will lose the concept of 'childhood' altogether.
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Gugan said...

yeah..its true that parents build lots of expectations on their children.There are,primarily, two things i'd blame:its the commercialization of everything thats around the child and parents' desire to impose on their child what they missed to do during their childhood.

(thanks for including IAS exams there.It is usually forgotten in discussions of this kind)

Consumer said...

The good news is that even comoanies are rebelling against this now... TISCO's head, himself an IIT alumnus, just declared that he doesn;t see his comoany recruiting IITians going forward, as the guys are just too regimented in their thinking, a fall out no doubt opf the cram classes they all come from nowadays.. Interesting number: The IIT 'cram' industry is worth 2000 crores, 4 times the size of the government investment into IIT's every year:) Courtesy: MINT.

On the other hand, I think it is a fact that kids are brighter, bigger and smarter nowadays, as compared to say, 20 years back. Though, there is a distinct lack of social skills, which needs to be fostered. I wish they would make these skills more important in every selection in life.
The beauty of social skills is, that if you have them, it automatically takes care of a lot else too.

Sharique said...

I agree about the pressure on children thing. And I see no let off in this. One has to put more than 100% to excel in competitive exams. I would have been in a cricket team now but thanks to our education system, I have nothing much to flaunt about now

I wonder what do you mean my 'regimented' thinking. Companies don't prefer IITians because IITians don't generally prefer working on lower wages. They won't accept the job anyways. I agree there is a brain drain (what is cram industry btw?) but things are changing for good. Research firms are opening in India so there are opportunities. The Indian govt. has to spend a lot on research or else why would anyone work on low wages?

Consumer said...

Sharique, Cram industry is the coaching industry, which 'cram' upto 80 students in a class and then 'cram' their minds with the same inputs, may the best swotter win.
Since these institutes have a success rate f over 80% now in terms of the final qualifying lists at IIT's, increasingly, the typical IITian, besides the demand for more money, also brings to the table a disdain for 'ordinary' work, and a total inability to comprehend creative or lateral approaches. preferring instead to become highly paid 'quants', in the financial industry or similar other high end human processing jobs...

Tarana Khan said...

Sharique, the fact that our education system is on a narrow guage track is another important issue that needs to be addressed. Maybe if we stopped stressing on maeks and more on overall performance, you would have been in the Indian cricket team!

I think Consumer has a good point there. We don't need a country full of 'geniuses' only. We also need people who can put in hard work and help in the growth process.

Zaigham Hasan said...

Dear Theorist,

Probably this is your first theory which I have come ‘cross through web. Great! Keep it up.

Putting your theory in Einsteinic manner,

E = A (square) D T

E = Expectation
A = Age
D = Dreams
T = Talent, which sometimes is wrongly perceived.

As its obvious from the comments posted on your blog, people are not interested in those ‘little’ things which can give simple joys of life – most of the comments are on something else.

People want comparisons; our child Vs their child.

Sharique said...

I agree about the JEE becoming an industry. I also testify that *majority* of people who come via these coaching institutes perform poorly in academics in IITs. JEE over the year has changed its pattern so as not to let non-coaching institute students have a leverage. I really don't know how much they have succeeded.

Regarding jobs, I agree that students prefer non-engineering jobs but money is the sole criterion that drives this craze. If you want to take this money minded approach out of their minds then something has to be done since childhood, something which is only possible in communist China (Chinese are known to be much more patriotic than anyone else). If engineering jobs are to be proffered then they have to rise in terms to quality and to accomplish that more money needs to be spent. Most of the government research institutes work under constraint of money. Saying this, I agree with your point about 'disdain'...that's sadly true so much so that IITians despise many industries and even professors!

A genius is not made but born. Believe me hard work cannot make someone a genius. I will write about it on my blog sometime. Coming to the point of having hard working people, well is there anything else that drives people more crazy than money? MNCs attract the best brains (more recently ibanking firms)because they can pay a hefty amount. Changing morality on an entire generation is next to impossible.

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