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This happens to every student in every school in India...

The fact is that it happens so subtly that no one realizes. We send children to school with the noble intention that they would acquire the education that will help them to become successful individuals. Imagine if the exact opposite was happening?

Children are more impressionable than you may imagine! And that is why they are very perceptive about peppy songs, idiosyncrasies or catchy one-liners mouthed by movie stars and everything else playing in that box in our living rooms we call TV. Same happens for them at school too. Apart from what they see and learn from the textbooks, it is also the surroundings at home and school and the behavior and attitude of the people around them that they pick up things from. All these later contribute in forming their values, beliefs and attitudes about and towards the various things in life. This silent education that seeps through subconsciously (largely) also stays the longest with the child. They outstay the chronological order of historical events, the capitals of various countries and states and proof for Pythagoras theorem. Those are stuff that you mug up for tests and promptly forget later on.

I have been an innocent victim of this silent education too. While there are too many influences to write about them all, let me share a few we generally notice (or do we) at school.

1. Obey orders
Blindly follow authority or face consequences. This is so deep-rooted that even parents succumb to it and ask their child to swallow it even if it is wrong. They will say “We won’t get anything by creating trouble. Let it go!” This dictates everything, right from how the name sticker should be on the notebook cover to how you write to how you sit etc. If the teacher asks you to underline a few lines in the book then you would have to do just that, you can’t highlight it although it solves the same purpose.

2. Turf war 
Taking the above case in point, if the child still tries to reason out with the teacher, then he will be labelled as someone who gives attitude. Teachers take any questioning back as rebellion and fail to understand that it is part of the juvenile nature of the child. Then ensues a turf war. The teacher feels her authority has been thwarted and the child is an attacker in her territory.

3. Obedience over Outcome
All this basically leads to the conclusion that a child must obey orders, no matter whether the outcome is fruitful or not. Some teachers even go as far as implying that if the child does fall into line then his grades will be affected, which will affect his college admission and hence his entire future as a chain effect.

4. Promoting Dependence 
I am a huge literature buff. So as a child out of utter curiosity and excitement I would read the entire literature book even before classes started. Once I was punished for being ahead of the syllabus. The underlying message is to wait for the teacher and follow directions. Instead of rewarding self-motivation, it gets killed. So essentially, good students wait for someone with more training to decide things for them.

5. Belittling self worth
“Do as you are told…”, “We know better...”, “You aren’t qualified...” are some of the popular one-liners that a child gets more often than not. They are taught to not be too sure of themselves. This takes away from placing faith in their personal value and worth. This leads to dependence and as adults the wait for others to validate their worth.


6. Discourage originality
One math problem can be solved in so many different ways but the student will invariably go for the teacher’s way because that is the only way that will fetch marks. Children always face conflict between choosing what they think as the right answer and what the teacher would reward as the right answer. So what would you give more importance, your conscience or better grades. Tough choice, isn’t it?

So at the end of the day, our kids are being told all the time on what to do, how to do it and even when to do it. They do not find a moment’s respite or private space to just be, given the fact that they are loaded with piles of homework even when they are out of the teacher’s surveillance.

And while I don’t think I fit in the category, co-incidence or not, some of the world’s greatest minds are those who either dropped out of school (or college) or dared to challenge the established opinion!

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