Child Rights: A new look at child abuse

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Child rights are our future.

The most vulnerable, exploited and unrepresented minority ANYWHERE in the world is children.

Child abuse is a process of disrespect, hurt and neglect and most children are abused. I’ll go right ahead and say almost every child is abused at some point or the other.

This post looks beyond the “bona fide” abuse that is recognized socially and legally and looks at practices we consider acceptable, which are not in the best interest of children.

Macro – Legal/Social

  1. There are laws against child abuse in India, indeed, there are laws against child abuse in most parts of the world. The United Nations Convention on the rights of the child (in theory) offers several protections. So how many parents get arrested for abuse in India except in extreme cases of child abuse when children land up in hospitals or morgues?
  2. If you hit an adult, you’d be arrested for assault. If you hit a child, the child will be told to behave or listen to you.
  3. No laws for protecting children consult children. In India, I am not even sure they consult child psychologists.
  4. What does a policeman do when he sees a beggar boy or girl on the street? Or a child prostitute in a red light area? Child abuse is routinely tolerated. Children don’t vote. Children don’t know they can complain. Children don’t come out on the streets threatening to topple governments or demanding suspensions of people.
  5. Blackmail is legal if its children? Children are rather literal creatures with high imaginations. “Do this or else”, “keep quiet or I am not going to talk to you”… is a real threat for them. We think nothing of threats of abandonment or harm in order to force them to act how we want – often for trivial things.
  6. Harassing a child is a socializing routine. Taking away toys, laying claims on parents or other treasured possessions, ragging them to perform something…
  7. Lack of supporting services. How can children be removed to safety unless there is proper infrastructure to care for them – psychologically, day-to-day care or legally? There is a deafening silence on the utter lack of security (or intent to create it) for the largest minority – the children.
  8. There is no preventative action. We have cops investigating post crime.
  9. The RTE Act makes it mandatory for every child to be in school. ANY other minority treated so arbitrarily would have human rights activists up in arms. But they applaud initiatives to imprison children. But its not working. <== READ

Schools

  1. You might want to remember when any genius ever said, oh, I’m a genius because school taught me all the important things. That’s right, never. Its usually, mom, supportive family, special mentor, country, god, etc.A school is a facility to install softwares of a list of subjects on unformatted children and certify the output, so that they may be put to appropriate use on becoming adults. In other words, kids are glorified hard drives. I am being cruel, unnecessarily vicious? Read on…
  2. Schools kill learning. Destroy ability to learn. Learning is a process of differentiation. This is red, this is blue. It is the discovery of the difference that I learn. A math problem can be figured out usefully by doing this and not this. Clearly, the process of being wrong is as important as the process of being right. If you cannot be wrong, you have validated nothing. You have only recorded what was told.
  3. If you don’t memorize railway timetables, there is absolutely no reason to memorize biological species or latitude and longitude coordinates of a city. Schools are a criminal waste of the most learningful years of a child’s life.
  4. Think of the brain as a computer’s RAM. It caches information, but its information it needs handy for instant application. Cluttering the cache limits its utility. We get children to memorize tomes and tomes of history, scientific classifications, geographical information, mathematical methods, and what not. Like any good cache, it flushes after the exams, or at worst, after education is complete. A school creates a fake need for storing information. This whole three ring circus is worthless beyond school.
  5. What about English? A child can learn to read and write entirely from its interests. Video game rules, titles of cartoon films, story books, etc give way to chatting with girlfriends, reading up experiments…. whatever. If they have an interest that needs reading, they will figure it out. If they don’t need it, there is no need, is there? If you write like Wren and Martin, you need to search for jobs in nineteenth century England. This is the language of the world. You find it on blogs, newspapers, instruction manuals, application forms and appointment letters.
  6. Language is about communication. And knowledge is about function. My excellent English grew through reading story books. I was absolutely addicted to story books. I used to hide them inside text books and read them in class. Lost count of how many got confiscated. I dare say I made a significant contribution to the school’s library. I used to read story books while waiting for exams to start. If I didn’t waste time on school, my English would have been even better.
  7. What about Maths? Prof Lockhart does a fantastic job of demolishing the myth of maths as taught in schools, and Joyce finishes the job for anyone who thinks a genius has different standards and they are more ordinary. Do read both. BTW, a calculator is cheaper than school fees. Here’s one by Ben Goldacre on the scientific ethics of schools and adults – Kids who spot bullshit, and the adults who get upset about it
  8. Now for the uncomfortable parts. School does kids harm. It has done you harm. It has done society harm. It has done me harm. The reason is that schools measure the worth of people. They respect or insult based on measures they decide and do damage, because they teach that human beings are less worthy if they don’t know something. They fail to comprehend or instill respect for the vast scope of genius existing in the world. They install inferiority complexes, superiority complexes, and an inability to recognize genuine knowledge growing wild. It diminishes people.
  9. Schools create artificial perceptions of narrow, age defined social comfort zones. People who hear this for the first time think I’m being unreasonable. They think kids prefer other children their own age. If this were true, pre-school kids wouldn’t be tagging behind elder siblings in hero worship. It is an instinct to look at experienced members and learn. It is unnatural to avoid diversity. Pay attention – I am not saying relationships of same age are unnatural, I am saying it is unnatural not to venture outside those ages. Our society is fragmenting, as generations are unable to relate easily with each other. The few families with healthy relationships make it. The rest is a saga of all the generations finding the other generations inconvenient at best and intolerable more often.
  10. Schools create a culture of isolation. That would seem surprising considering how there are so many children, and you remember having friends…. but you can socialize and be alone without the ability to form meaningful relationships. Schools police interpersonal relations to an astonishingly harmful degree. It is natural for two people with a common problem to join forces in solving it. In real life, we call it team working. In school, the challenges are called examinations, and collaboration is called cheating. There is shame, stigma and a strong emphasis on NOT giving or accepting assistance and solving problems on your own. Then, you go to work, and suddenly the school ideas are the ones creating most of your trouble. You can’t ask for help, you can’t accept help, because you are “worth less” if you do that.You agree to teamwork, but still communicate final versions. Silo culture. There are now increasing cases of depression, suicides and loneliness in children.
  11. Schools are a market. A big, profitable market, where the consumers have no rights.
  12. The education system is INEFFICIENT. In a world where efficiency and speed are important, the size of education only increases, becomes more and more schizophrenic and irrelevant to reality. Increasingly, the products of this education system are worthless in real life. <== READ! They find it difficult to see opportunity in a city like Mumbai (<== READ!), where my maid earns Rs.12,000/- a month. Basically, our education system is still geared to produce clerks in the British Raj.
  13. Schools teach very few of the life important skills, and little that is useful for non-white collar jobs. A train driver earns a good income, but kids are not exposed to it as an opportunity. They are herded toward academic brilliance as though it were an Olympic sport and functionality were not important.
  14. I don’t even want to talk about all the class stereotypes this creates. Intelligent, respectworthy people score well in exams.This has been disproved so many times, its irrational. But what do you expect in a country where people become teachers because they couldn’t get better jobs?
  15. The education doesn’t create a foundation going beyond the known or fighting the horizon and breaking through. The idea is to do what is already established, excellently. A child is innovative by nature. A doer, experimenter, natural scientist. It is a creative lobotomy to force them to become like this.

Which brings me to…. brace yourself. This is important. You love your child. You can do this. You can read through the rest.

Parents and other elders

  1. Most parents have a melodramatic awareness of how much they do for their kids, the sacrifices they make, the difficulties they suffer, etc. Their transactions with children are often through this lens, trivializing a child’s sacrifices (is it sacrifice or compliance if its ordered?) in comparison with theirs. The child never asked to be born, or for sacrifices to be made. It is unfair to pressure them to appreciate something they didn’t feel the need for, and deprive them of something they DO feel the need for.
  2. School is another form of abandonment of unwanted kids. Before you throw those rotten eggs at me, look in your rotten soul. Do you breathe a sigh of relief when vacations are over? Why are you happy to send your child off on more and more things to keep him busy and out of your hair? You won’t watch a three hour film without finding out if its worth it, do you spare a second thought tying up more than a decade of the best parts of the days of your child’s life? Do you stop to ask if that much time is needed? Do you stop to ask if it is necessary to teach all this? Do you exert your rights as your child’s representative to negotiate his best interest? If not, who will? Isn’t this abandonment?
  3. The abandonment is also emotional. Most parents will believe another adult over their child. So, if someone says something, complains, it is two adults versus one child. In other words, the equivalent of bullying. This is beyond abandonment, it is treachery.
  4. Almost every child has been hit, dominated or insulted for being inconvenient.
  5. Disrespect. Parents routinely “train” kids better. You wouldn’t force feed a friend to eat a food she didn’t like, but most parents think nothing about using anything from pleas to physical domination, threats and starvation in order to get kids to eat that food they don’t want to eat. This isn’t discipline. It is breaking someone’s spirit by assault. Even in prisons, this would be human rights abuse. In homes, its normal. It is apparently what grows good, healthy kids. God forbid they became adult without learning how to eat tomatoes.
  6. Projections. Kids routinely pay for the parent’s seeing bad things in them for no fault of theirsHere’s a rather long winded article that goes into the psychology of it <== READ! If you are a parent, do your child a favour, and read it. If you do nothing, do this.

Too much hassle growing a kid. People plug them into schools to outsource their development. Take out a template installed with standard knowledge. Keep them busy till they are old enough not to be a hassle.

Nothing will convince me that at an age of discovery and wonder, a child is enjoys or gains best from sitting at a desk mimicing ideas and words.

Horse breeders realize the value of the emotional stability from being around the parent. To breed horses of good temperament, foals are not separated from dams till a year at least. Ideally, three or so years, till they become independent and form their own bonds in the herd. The equivalent in development for a year for a horse would be six human years. Animals get better caring, huh? What is more important than the emotional grounding and security of being with the parent till ready to explore further?

Making them independent, of course. In a world where adults misjudge people and are hurt and betrayed as a matter of routine, we expect children to “read” strangers at very young ages, and socialize easily and also have the ability to not go to strangers for fear of kidnappings, abuse and miscellaneous harm. We put them in danger through this kind of irresponsible passing on of responsibility.

You have parents looking to make babies independent… get them weaned, comfortable with strangers, accustomed to day care….. and then, you have same parents nagging their adult kids to visit more often. You abscond when they need you, and then you expect them to need you when they don’t?

Very few happenings in a child’s routine are intended with their joy, well being, emotional or physical safety in mind. Either we must stop claiming to love them, or we must change.

When we are old, drooling and bedridden, we’d like to matter when our care is outsourced to an old age home. We may learn to accept that we are inconvenient or that someone else could take better care of us, but we would like our loved ones to be close in our vulnerability. Not all that different from a child. Lined up in our futures. Good incentive to make this thing more human.

A start would be not doing, being, being acting with a child in any way that you wouldn’t with someone you respect. Someone incredibly precious whom you appreciate.

Right now onwards.

If you liked this, you might be interested in its follow up School Reloaded, which looks at ways a learning institution could be.

Related Post

About the Author

Vidyut
Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

42 Comments on "Child Rights: A new look at child abuse"

  1. Wow! Vidyut,  This is really an impassioned version of what I think and feel too.  And Thank you to Ketan who has given such a detailed response.  

    Vidyut, could you please sms your number to me, as I am finding this online stuff overwhelming, and I wish to be in touch with you more directly.

    Love
    Urmila.

  2. Vidyut,

    Excellent work indeed!
    A very comprehensive analysis of the child’s predicament in this world for adults!  

    While, my rather conservative mindset may not agree with some of the radical remedies, I agree with all the symptoms.. 

    Just to show that I speak from my own experience, here are the links to two posts of mine:

    http://confused-ambadi.blogspot.com/2009/09/some-memorable-beatings_5906.html

    http://confused-ambadi.blogspot.com/2011/07/my-experiments-with-untruth.html

    Thanks you for raising your voice!!

    Jay

  3. We’ve been having a lot of issues about child abuse here in New Zealand lately.  We have one of the highest rates of child abuse in the OECD – if not the highest.

    We had a massive debate a while back when one of our MPs proposed a legislation change that (according to some) would make criminals out of good parents.  It has always been illegal to strike a child – it has always been within the definition of assault. However, s59 of our Crimes Act provides for a defence against a charge of assault.  It used to say that a defence is the use of reasonable force against a child for the purpose of correction.  In other words, if a child is naughty, you can hit him or her.

    The legislation was changed to remove this defence, while retaining the use of reasonable force for the purposes of safety – such as forcibly grabbing a child about to run out into the street.

    Now we are looking at making it an offence to not report child abuse when it is known about. The problem with this is that it could adversely affect abused adults in the same household. When one parent is being abused, as well as the child, the adult will find it extremely difficult to act on it. In the worst case scenario, the abused parent may become actively complicit in the abuse of the child, but that becomes just another symptom of their own abuse.

    The general public here really fail to understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship. They tend to think in very simple terms of you either report abuse or you are party to it. They seem to think things are so very black and white.  And then we have the whole racism issue – of how child abuse is more prevalent among Maori and Pacific Island families. And people make it a race issue – saying that the race is bad. They conveniently forget that the abuse is again a consequence of the institutionalised racism.

    Then we have young mothers who are ostracised and marginalised for being “sluts” who “can’t keep their legs together”, so these young mothers are put on a back foot from the start.

    And at the moment, I am seeing a huge increase in comments in social media about how children shouldn’t be allowed in certain places because they are so disruptive and smelly and misbehaving, and how terrible the parents are for not “controlling” the child.

    We have a celebrity psychologist who hosts a show (and a book) called the “Politically Incorrect Parenting Show” where he calls teenagers “not right in the head”.

    As for education, successive governments – particularly conservatives – openly regard education as not all that important – certainly not as important as business. One of our current Government’s election billboards at the last election laughingly said something very much like “More Teachers and Police, Less Bureaucrats”.  Well maybe if there were more teachers they’d know the word is “fewer” not “less”.

    We have the growing sexualisation of children (check out the work of https://www.facebook.com/collectiveshout and https://www.facebook.com/pullthepinonpageants).

    We’ve also had big arguments about breast-feeding, and how people don’t want all these women “flopping their tits out” in public, and “why can’t they feed the child before they come out”.

    As trite as it may be, Whitney Houston’s song says it well. “I believe that children are the future / Teach them well and let them lead the way”. I don’t know about the situation in other countries, but if ours is anything to go by, this world is heading for real trouble – purely in terms of the way we treat our children.

  4. We hated going to school as kids, enjoyed the holidays. We loved it when we got sick, so that would be the day we could bunk school. And yet somehow when it comes to our own kids, we expect them to be in school regularly. And the issue is that going to school is seen as a punishment, as a chore to be endured. If the teachers don’t get you, the parents will. Why did it have to turn out that way? Is it too much to expect teachers to be facilitators then mere rote masters?

    I guess somewhere the system is at fault, teachers, say they r forced to complete the syllabus on time, else they are blamed by the management. Management wants 100% results for more publicity, more admissions, and that makes them put the pressure. So end of the day its the students who face the brunt, pretty much the equivalent of factory workers here.

  5. We hated going to school as kids, enjoyed the holidays. We loved it when we got sick, so that would be the day we could bunk school. And yet somehow when it comes to our own kids, we expect them to be in school regularly. And the issue is that going to school is seen as a punishment, as a chore to be endured. If the teachers don’t get you, the parents will. Why did it have to turn out that way? Is it too much to expect teachers to be facilitators then mere rote masters?

    I guess somewhere the system is at fault, teachers, say they r forced to complete the syllabus on time, else they are blamed by the management. Management wants 100% results for more publicity, more admissions, and that makes them put the pressure. So end of the day its the students who face the brunt, pretty much the equivalent of factory workers here.

  6.  as far as the forceful action in concerned …………think of this the other way round………..i am saying this by experience …………..my baby does nt want me to brush her teeth……….she wants to do it all by herself, but i know that only allowing her to do that without my interference is not good for her as her teeth will go bad………..i can think of this but a 2 or 3 years not.because this is the fact and we all know this that thinking power comes by age …the reasoning and thinking span of a 3 yrs is not that much wide to think about their good or bad …….so its our duty as parents to make them agree with us for their well being……..i requested her to let me brush her teeth with another toothbrush….but she did nt agree……….i was worried abt her hygiene…..but  she is so small tht she does nt know what hygiene is…….she only knows that she is enjoying doing this so she will do…….so i had to little bit strict……..so that i can do that for her to be healthy…………and are many more things which we have to make them do for their wellbeing……….like eating food…….my dd does nt eat anything willingly…….but i can not leave it to her only…that when she will be hungry she will eat by herself……….a little kid does nt know the art of brain and response that much..that they are hungry now so they can ask to give something to eat………when they deny eating and we leave that to them….and do not feed them at right time………then when they are hungry they do not ask for food, they start crankiness, start crying…..etc….and their stomach gets hurt because tummy only knows the signals of hungriness and fullness………not more than that…….so their GI system gets upset………..and we do not want that at all………..so we have to do something to avoid this………

      there are so many things and areas where parents has to not intentionally but worryingly do something forcefully not like forcefully in forceful manner but has to think some alternatives to make kids do things which are good for them. 
    limit is everywhere in everything if  the child says that he or she wants to eat that not this…then if reasonable we can give choice to them……….like my baby like salty things more than sweet things…….so she eats sour and salty food happily so i make food of her choice……….but i know that she needs to eat everything to fulfill her nutrition chart so i make dishes which she likes and enjoys to eat….in this way her nutrition is fulfilled and she gets food of her choice.
    kids are hyperactive………..most kids……especially when they are toddlers that they do not want to go to sleep very easily………..but we know that its necessary for them to sleep……to take adequate sleep…………….so we give them some time……but after a threshold point when we know that now they must go to sleep then we have to make to do that……….

    the list goes on where parents has to be some strict for their kids well being………….but limit and compromise is always there…………so its important to look for alternatives and easy ways to make kids agree to the things which are required for there life and well  being. 

      

  7.  very heart touching and eye opening article……………..reality of life shown in words…………..tears shed from my eyes while reading this……….though i am already decided to home educate my darling baby………..who is going to be 3 yrs next month………….but this article made my decision more strong n valid…………i m very very sensitive when well being n safety of my child comes……….i m surprised and happy that all my thoughts and estimations are written in this………..i mean the same way i think……..from very beginning when my baby was not even born…and now when i m a mom my thinking comes into practical life of educating and instilling good and meaningful knowledge into my kid..no one can be a better teacher than u for ur kid…………….its my thinking and i strongly believe in this………….n i m not saying this just like that its hence proven……i dont remember any of the good thing or habit taught by our teachers in so called our schools……….and i am sure many of u also do not ve any thing good grabbed from ur teachers………..but i ve so many good things and values instilled by our elders and parents in us. 
     so much to write but running out of time…………
    good job indeed such a inspiring article………..
    thank you so much……………

  8.  very heart touching and eye opening article……………..reality of life shown in words…………..tears shed from my eyes while reading this……….though i am already decided to home educate my darling baby………..who is going to be 3 yrs next month………….but this article made my decision more strong n valid…………i m very very sensitive when well being n safety of my child comes……….i m surprised and happy that all my thoughts and estimations are written in this………..i mean the same way i think……..from very beginning when my baby was not even born…and now when i m a mom my thinking comes into practical life of educating and instilling good and meaningful knowledge into my kid..no one can be a better teacher than u for ur kid…………….its my thinking and i strongly believe in this………….n i m not saying this just like that its hence proven……i dont remember any of the good thing or habit taught by our teachers in so called our schools……….and i am sure many of u also do not ve any thing good grabbed from ur teachers………..but i ve so many good things and values instilled by our elders and parents in us. 
     so much to write but running out of time…………
    good job indeed such a inspiring article………..
    thank you so much……………

  9.  very heart touching and eye opening article……………..reality of life shown in words…………..tears shed from my eyes while reading this……….though i am already decided to home educate my darling baby………..who is going to be 3 yrs next month………….but this article made my decision more strong n valid…………i m very very sensitive when well being n safety of my child comes……….i m surprised and happy that all my thoughts and estimations are written in this………..i mean the same way i think……..from very beginning when my baby was not even born…and now when i m a mom my thinking comes into practical life of educating and instilling good and meaningful knowledge into my kid..no one can be a better teacher than u for ur kid…………….its my thinking and i strongly believe in this………….n i m not saying this just like that its hence proven……i dont remember any of the good thing or habit taught by our teachers in so called our schools……….and i am sure many of u also do not ve any thing good grabbed from ur teachers………..but i ve so many good things and values instilled by our elders and parents in us. 
     so much to write but running out of time…………
    good job indeed such a inspiring article………..
    thank you so much……………

  10.  very heart touching and eye opening article……………..reality of life shown in words…………..tears shed from my eyes while reading this……….though i am already decided to home educate my darling baby………..who is going to be 3 yrs next month………….but this article made my decision more strong n valid…………i m very very sensitive when well being n safety of my child comes……….i m surprised and happy that all my thoughts and estimations are written in this………..i mean the same way i think……..from very beginning when my baby was not even born…and now when i m a mom my thinking comes into practical life of educating and instilling good and meaningful knowledge into my kid..no one can be a better teacher than u for ur kid…………….its my thinking and i strongly believe in this………….n i m not saying this just like that its hence proven……i dont remember any of the good thing or habit taught by our teachers in so called our schools……….and i am sure many of u also do not ve any thing good grabbed from ur teachers………..but i ve so many good things and values instilled by our elders and parents in us. 
     so much to write but running out of time…………
    good job indeed such a inspiring article………..
    thank you so much……………

  11. Royalist_humanist | May 17, 2011 at 2:34 am | Reply

     Jewish Enlightenment and Reformation (Child abuse by priests discussed within)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Interesting_articles/message/27

  12. Royalist_humanist | May 17, 2011 at 2:34 am | Reply

     Jewish Enlightenment and Reformation (Child abuse by priests discussed within)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Interesting_articles/message/27

  13. Royalist_humanist | May 17, 2011 at 2:34 am | Reply

     Jewish Enlightenment and Reformation (Child abuse by priests discussed within)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Interesting_articles/message/27

  14. Royalist_humanist | May 17, 2011 at 2:34 am | Reply

     Jewish Enlightenment and Reformation (Child abuse by priests discussed within)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Interesting_articles/message/27

  15. Regarding Schools We should begin with Current Education System with Traditional Education System.   

    1) Current Education System is based on British Babu era, and To understand that we need to read below, Lord Macaulay’s Address to the British Parliament 2 February, 1835Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay Comment  Send this story to a friend “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture, and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

  16. Regarding Schools We should begin with Current Education System with Traditional Education System.   

    1) Current Education System is based on British Babu era, and To understand that we need to read below, Lord Macaulay’s Address to the British Parliament 2 February, 1835Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay Comment  Send this story to a friend “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture, and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

  17. Regarding Schools We should begin with Current Education System with Traditional Education System.   

    1) Current Education System is based on British Babu era, and To understand that we need to read below, Lord Macaulay’s Address to the British Parliament 2 February, 1835Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay Comment  Send this story to a friend “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture, and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

  18. Regarding Schools We should begin with Current Education System with Traditional Education System.   

    1) Current Education System is based on British Babu era, and To understand that we need to read below, Lord Macaulay’s Address to the British Parliament 2 February, 1835Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay Comment  Send this story to a friend “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture, and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

  19. Regarding Schools We should begin with Current Education System with Traditional Education System.   

    1) Current Education System is based on British Babu era,
    Lord Macaulay’s Address to the British Parliament 2 February, 1835Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay Comment  Send this story to a friend “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture, and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

  20. Regarding Schools We should begin with Current Education System with Traditional Education System.   

    1) Current Education System is based on British Babu era,
    Lord Macaulay’s Address to the British Parliament 2 February, 1835Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay Comment  Send this story to a friend “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture, and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

  21. Regarding Schools We should begin with Current Education System with Traditional Education System.   

    1) Current Education System is based on British Babu era,
    Lord Macaulay’s Address to the British Parliament 2 February, 1835Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay Comment  Send this story to a friend “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture, and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

  22. Regarding Schools We should begin with Current Education System with Traditional Education System.   

    1) Current Education System is based on British Babu era,
    Lord Macaulay’s Address to the British Parliament 2 February, 1835Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay Comment  Send this story to a friend “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture, and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

  23. Looks like you are mixing 2 things in this Article,
    1) Child Abuse
    2) Schooling System in Which General (Mass) People Studies

    It would be great if you can Divide Article into 2 Separate. I will try to Answer on Child Abuses issues only Here as i don’t agree with you on Schooling,

    I guess India in Run to be Like Western forgot their own Systems and Sansakars leading to this Chaos. I Strongly BELIEVE if 1.2Billion People will PRAY for Any Social Cause, GOD will Comedown and Provide Solution. How many times We have asked GOD for someone else? Or May be Raised Such Questions to GOVERNMENT? I am Impressed with Mr. MODI the way he has implemented Programs with Public/Gov partnership.

    1) Child Abuse: Is very Important issue that Any Society/Government Needs to address. Now lets Compartmentalize Child Abuses,
    1.1) Abuse by Society for not Providing Equal Opportunity
    1.2) Abuse by Parents either Emotional Blackmailing or Physical to Get their Views Enforced.
    1.3) Abuse by Teachers on Students who Doesn’t align with their thoughts.
    1.4) Abuse by Seniors to Fellow Child to get their things done
    1.5) Ragging
    1.6) Pedophiles
    1.7) Male to Female Physical Abuses & vice versa (from unwanted Touching to Rape )   
    1.8) Please Add……………………..

    The above exercise will Help us to how to Identify & Address the issues as Society. Mind you when i was 12-13 years of Age, when my dad tried to Hit me, i Dared him not to do it, & He still remembers and remind me today. And What i remember my dad never forced upon any of his thoughts career choices or anything. He is more liberal then my elder Brother….

    1.1) Abuse by Society for not Providing Equal Opportunity
    You are not entirely correct about Society is not doing enough for Child who are Future of Society. For e.g. A) Gujarat Government Built Toilets in the Interior Schools So that Girl could attend Schools without Hesitation (Initially they were apprehensive as they had to go outdoor)
    B) I heard some schemes where they Provide Bi-cycle to Girls to Commute to Schools.
    C) Malnutrition Campaign by Gujarat Government with Public partnership where Public Donates Milk and Milk is Donated to Kids Directly.

    Solution: Definitely We as a society needs to have some more FOSTER HOMES where Kids from Railway stations needs to be rehabilitated and Provided Education / Vocational training to earn Livelihood. This is Specific to Mumbai’s or metros Underbelly rather Countrywide.
     
    1.2) Abuse by Parents either Emotional Blackmailing or Physical to Get their Views Enforced. This reminded me of Movie “UDAAN”, 
    Cause: a) Ego of parents that I know better then you.
    b) Parents are not able to understand the Child (Tare zameen par.)

    Solution: 1) This could be Handled case by Case basis but we need to Something Like USA has 911 Emergency Service. Where any individual can call Service and law enforcement agencies reaches your Doors in Some time, Not sure how it would work with 1.2 Billion People in India. 
    2) Parenting Training. In USA when Wife is Pregnant Couple goes for parental Training, this is guided mainly by How to handle baby, but emotions runs deep. Also there are Different Psychological training.

    1.3) Abuse by Teachers on Students who Doesn’t align with their thoughts.
    Cause: EGO of teachers and bad Evaluation of teachers. I would say nonexistent teachers teaching evaluation, this is Global Phenomenon, But Private Schools seems to fare better then government Schools. 
    Solution: Better Evaluation and monitoring of teachers teachings.

    1.4)  Abuse by Seniors to Fellow Child to get their things done
    Cause: a) In new Society where Husband/Wife both words and Kids are at mercy of Domestic helps.
    Solution: a) Better Parental awareness sessions with kids about what is Right & what is wrong, Instilling values in Kids is very important as well we are Best Kind of attitude in kids. Look at Indian Society everything IMPORTED is Best attitude, We don’t have even Toothpaste of Indian Brand. In this Society how to Install Belief in themselves would be challenge.

    1.5) Ragging
    Causes a) Ego of Seniors & Local residents
    Solutions: a) Emotional Appeal to Seniors as well awareness Sessions/Videos to be Shown to Seniors about How many lives being lost due to Ragging etc, there was Very good show on ZindagiLive http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/110483/zindagi-live-raise-voice-against-ragging.html  if such shows are Should to Seniors in all the Colleges I am Sure ragging would reduce Dramatically. 

    1.6) Pedophiles
    Cause: a) Media and Society Mismatch. For e.g. Recent Movie “THANK YOU”, Could you ask Producer/Director where they have seen such Society? When corrupts minds sees such images How It will affect Society?
    Solution: a) Parental Role is very important here to Observe Childs behavior & talking about Birds & Bees Story when they Turns 10/12, My Aunt recently informed that she taught her Daughter to Should Loudly if Somebody try to touch & made her feel uncomfortable.
    b) Even Indian Spiritual Literature Condemns Girls Physical abuse being Highest Form of Bad karma / Paap, and this needs to be shared with Kids By parents/Schools. 
    c) Much more Vigilant Society to Name & Shame such Incidences. 

    1.7) Male to Female Physical Abuses & vice versa (from unwanted Touching to Rape )   
    Cause: a) Media and Society Mismatch. For e.g. Recent Movie “THANK YOU”, Could you ask Producer/Director where they have seen such Society? When Immature minds sees such images How It will affect Society?
    b) There will be Some Problems Due to High Libido / Adrenaline Rush.
    Solution: a) This needs to be addressed through understanding and channeling Kids energy in Right places, Meditation / Sports / Education / Arts.
    b) Awareness parental Role also pays important Role here.

    Please Feel Free to add Child Abuses categories….

  24. Looks like you are mixing 2 things in this Article,
    1) Child Abuse
    2) Schooling System in Which General (Mass) People Studies

    It would be great if you can Divide Article into 2 Separate. I will try to Answer on Child Abuses issues only Here as i don’t agree with you on Schooling,

    I guess India in Run to be Like Western forgot their own Systems and Sansakars leading to this Chaos. I Strongly BELIEVE if 1.2Billion People will PRAY for Any Social Cause, GOD will Comedown and Provide Solution. How many times We have asked GOD for someone else? Or May be Raised Such Questions to GOVERNMENT? I am Impressed with Mr. MODI the way he has implemented Programs with Public/Gov partnership.

    1) Child Abuse: Is very Important issue that Any Society/Government Needs to address. Now lets Compartmentalize Child Abuses,
    1.1) Abuse by Society for not Providing Equal Opportunity
    1.2) Abuse by Parents either Emotional Blackmailing or Physical to Get their Views Enforced.
    1.3) Abuse by Teachers on Students who Doesn’t align with their thoughts.
    1.4) Abuse by Seniors to Fellow Child to get their things done
    1.5) Ragging
    1.6) Pedophiles
    1.7) Male to Female Physical Abuses & vice versa (from unwanted Touching to Rape )   
    1.8) Please Add……………………..

    The above exercise will Help us to how to Identify & Address the issues as Society. Mind you when i was 12-13 years of Age, when my dad tried to Hit me, i Dared him not to do it, & He still remembers and remind me today. And What i remember my dad never forced upon any of his thoughts career choices or anything. He is more liberal then my elder Brother….

    1.1) Abuse by Society for not Providing Equal Opportunity
    You are not entirely correct about Society is not doing enough for Child who are Future of Society. For e.g. A) Gujarat Government Built Toilets in the Interior Schools So that Girl could attend Schools without Hesitation (Initially they were apprehensive as they had to go outdoor)
    B) I heard some schemes where they Provide Bi-cycle to Girls to Commute to Schools.
    C) Malnutrition Campaign by Gujarat Government with Public partnership where Public Donates Milk and Milk is Donated to Kids Directly.

    Solution: Definitely We as a society needs to have some more FOSTER HOMES where Kids from Railway stations needs to be rehabilitated and Provided Education / Vocational training to earn Livelihood. This is Specific to Mumbai’s or metros Underbelly rather Countrywide.
     
    1.2) Abuse by Parents either Emotional Blackmailing or Physical to Get their Views Enforced. This reminded me of Movie “UDAAN”, 
    Cause: a) Ego of parents that I know better then you.
    b) Parents are not able to understand the Child (Tare zameen par.)

    Solution: 1) This could be Handled case by Case basis but we need to Something Like USA has 911 Emergency Service. Where any individual can call Service and law enforcement agencies reaches your Doors in Some time, Not sure how it would work with 1.2 Billion People in India. 
    2) Parenting Training. In USA when Wife is Pregnant Couple goes for parental Training, this is guided mainly by How to handle baby, but emotions runs deep. Also there are Different Psychological training.

    1.3) Abuse by Teachers on Students who Doesn’t align with their thoughts.
    Cause: EGO of teachers and bad Evaluation of teachers. I would say nonexistent teachers teaching evaluation, this is Global Phenomenon, But Private Schools seems to fare better then government Schools. 
    Solution: Better Evaluation and monitoring of teachers teachings.

    1.4)  Abuse by Seniors to Fellow Child to get their things done
    Cause: a) In new Society where Husband/Wife both words and Kids are at mercy of Domestic helps.
    Solution: a) Better Parental awareness sessions with kids about what is Right & what is wrong, Instilling values in Kids is very important as well we are Best Kind of attitude in kids. Look at Indian Society everything IMPORTED is Best attitude, We don’t have even Toothpaste of Indian Brand. In this Society how to Install Belief in themselves would be challenge.

    1.5) Ragging
    Causes a) Ego of Seniors & Local residents
    Solutions: a) Emotional Appeal to Seniors as well awareness Sessions/Videos to be Shown to Seniors about How many lives being lost due to Ragging etc, there was Very good show on ZindagiLive http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/110483/zindagi-live-raise-voice-against-ragging.html  if such shows are Should to Seniors in all the Colleges I am Sure ragging would reduce Dramatically. 

    1.6) Pedophiles
    Cause: a) Media and Society Mismatch. For e.g. Recent Movie “THANK YOU”, Could you ask Producer/Director where they have seen such Society? When corrupts minds sees such images How It will affect Society?
    Solution: a) Parental Role is very important here to Observe Childs behavior & talking about Birds & Bees Story when they Turns 10/12, My Aunt recently informed that she taught her Daughter to Should Loudly if Somebody try to touch & made her feel uncomfortable.
    b) Even Indian Spiritual Literature Condemns Girls Physical abuse being Highest Form of Bad karma / Paap, and this needs to be shared with Kids By parents/Schools. 
    c) Much more Vigilant Society to Name & Shame such Incidences. 

    1.7) Male to Female Physical Abuses & vice versa (from unwanted Touching to Rape )   
    Cause: a) Media and Society Mismatch. For e.g. Recent Movie “THANK YOU”, Could you ask Producer/Director where they have seen such Society? When Immature minds sees such images How It will affect Society?
    b) There will be Some Problems Due to High Libido / Adrenaline Rush.
    Solution: a) This needs to be addressed through understanding and channeling Kids energy in Right places, Meditation / Sports / Education / Arts.
    b) Awareness parental Role also pays important Role here.

    Please Feel Free to add Child Abuses categories….

  25. Vidyut,

    I’d start by stating that I largely agree with whatever you’ve written and also that most of things have seen me ponder upon them in the past. But then were also those things that I had never thought about and and others that you made me see through a new perspective, and that two are really the highest praise I can reserve for your article. 🙂 And which also make me grateful.

    The most commendable thing about your article is that it is full of empathy. You’ve actually succeeded in effectively showing what certain acts of adults look like to a child. And that is very, very difficult for most adults, including myself, to do. I agree (if that is what one of the things you meant) that even if parents have best of the intents, they end up doing things that are painful/unpleasant to the child and which don’t even actually benefit the child in any way.

    The predicament I was talking about over twitter is this: can a child be allowed to be as sovereign as an adult? I know, this question reeks of haughtiness that is typical of adults, but in hindsight, I do believe that at least there were a few things that had I been not forcefully taught I would have been worse off. And that I’m saying despite having been a largely ‘agreeable’ kid. There are many things that are taught to kids against their wishes – right from things like potty-training to brushing their teeth regularly to not eating unhealthy food to taking bitter medicines when ill (at least some of them are life-saving!) so on and so forth. 🙂 So, if we are to continue to teach these things to the kids, an element of force in the process of nurture is inescapable. If one agrees on a compromise upon kids’ sovereignty by use of force, then a difficult question would arise – where exactly does one stop?! As I was trying to tell over twitter, I’m unmarried and don’t have a child, but then I have thought a lot over these issues. The only reasonable position I’m able to reach is that I will force only those things upon my child, which after growing up I find justified (this is on lines of “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself”). But of course, even that is not the best ethical guide. Maybe, it can at best prevent me from the feeling of guilt on being forceful on (my) child. This is the only major area where I tend to disagree with you, or maybe I would like you to clarify your stance better – what do we do in those cases where the child stubbornly refuses to accept that we ‘know’ to be *good* or alternatively persistently craves for something we ‘know’ to be *bad*?

    Rest of your article is about schooling. I’ll discuss remarkable points in the order I encountered them.

    2. I really liked your highlighting how being wrong is as important as being right. You might have not said this out of space constraints, but let me add it, a child must never be made to feel that ‘wrong’ = ‘bad’. That is one of the problems that the whole of the Indian society suffers from, not just in area of schooling, but even elsewhere. Of course, in school environment that has a profound influence. When the penalties for being ‘wrong’ are too high, the child realizes that it is not ‘being’ right that is important, but being *perceived* as right, which is more important. And from here starts the life-long journey of lying, pretending and being insincere. Whereas, on the other had if the stakes between being seen as ‘right’ v/s ‘wrong’ were not that high, the child would be more willing to accept his/her state of being wrong, and would also be more empathetic towards those who’re proved ‘wrong’.

    3. I hate memorizing. There is too much of it in our educational system, and much of which is unrequired. Couldn’t have agreed with this more. I cringe to think that ‘maths’ for people is being able to memorize ‘tables’ for primary classes kids, being able to fit given data in one or the other algebraic formulae for the secondary school students and then on being able to manually calculate all that data *without making mistakes*! I’d scored well in maths only rarely. But I realized that I understood the concepts of graphs, logarithms, calculus much better than those who scored well. Also, I’d a much better understanding of practical implications of a given mathematical relation of proportionality (e.g., inversely proportional, inverse-squared, etc.) But I never liked to memorize complex trigonometric ‘identities’. That was all useless. 🙂

    4. Completely agree!

    5. I’ve a thing going for articulate people and using (any) language ‘accurately’, but yes, that’s just my personal prejudice. I agree with you. 🙂 A scientist needs to be coherent and does not need Thesaurus level knowledge. It is interesting to note that the Western world has largely gotten over this obsession of using complex words. They actually prefer simpler and shorter words. I’ve had quite some experience editing Wikipedia articles, and I was surprised to note that those with excellent knowledge of English would write ‘show’ instead of ‘demonstrate’. 🙂 We in India, would instead deliberately try to use longer words. [Medical people are guiltier of the last thing, I guess].

    6. Hahaha! My dad still feels that reading novels is a ‘bad’ thing. 🙂 My parents don’t have any inkling of my online activities. They have no idea that my English might be one of the best among my peers. That is the degree to which any material beyond my curriculum that I read was seen with scorn in my house. 🙂 I started reading stories beyond my school curriculum quite late in my life – class 11 to be precise. Ironically, I have almost stopped reading them as well. 🙂

    7. That’s a huge essay by Lockhart. I did read till page 5 and I found it very interesting. He’d some very interesting things to say, and I’ll read his article later. 🙂 I must say I’m guilty of some of the things he accuses the society of in how it misunderstands mathematicians. 🙁 Haven’t yet read Joyce’s article yet, just noticed that he makes deliberate typo in the title of his ‘blog’. 🙂

    8. What I have mentioned above in response to your point 2 is similar to what you have written here. Here I’d like to digress a bit. You have rightly pointed out how schooling is largely sadistic. It creates a few winners (‘rank-holders’, winners of poetry ‘recitation’ contests, painting ‘contests’, etc.), but rest are made to feel like they don’t matter! This, apart from doing them harm as individuals, also does immense harm to the society as a whole. I believe this sort of childhood-bred inferiority complex and fear of being considered redundant gives rise to feelings of communalism/sectarianism/factionalism because individuals start seeking ‘validation’/societal ‘approval’ in numbers. Besides, this tendency creates very early in children a need to outshine others. It creates a needlessly competitive environment and stress. That is the reason we have so many contests on TV, and that is the reason we see people struggle so much and compete with each other despite the fact that very little of this struggle is for actually acquiring resources necessary for life or happiness! And that is something I find really weird about the Indian society. I had discussed some of these related ideas in a post called ‘Communalism’ [ http://ketpan.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/communalism/ ] (in a very unrefined fashion 😀 ). I hope I’m not found of guilty of trying to ‘engineer’ kids for larger social ‘good’ in that post of mine. 😛

    9. This is one of those points that I had never thought of. But then the problem stems from schools being ‘assembly-lines’ (a term I frequently use to describe the Indian education system, of course, with derision). How can products from different ‘batch’, ‘finished’ to differing degrees be allowed to be on the same ‘line’? 😉 On a more serious note, your point got me thinking. And I could not think of an arrangement wherein children of different age-groups can be brought together. I know, here I’m committing the mistake of not thinking out-of-the box enough, meaning, I’ve yet not heard your ideas on how to entirely overhaul the education system. So, if I try to incorporate your suggestions in the *current* setup, the result is quite likely to be dissatisfactory. 🙂 One of the things I was thinking was older children getting to teach instead of teachers. 🙂 But I don’t know if that in itself is a good idea. In what respects is that different from ‘older’ teachers teaching the kids? [Last one is not a rhetorical question].

    10. Wow! This is the point that had totally put me in awe! I’ve always had problems with considering “cheating” in exams as ‘wrong’, though haven’t indulged much in that. But that was because of different reasons. I consider solving previous years’ questions in anticipation that they would be repeated akin to ‘leaking’ a paper. And I consider writing something from memory (without understanding it) as “answer” akin to plagiarism and a kind of dishonest pretense of knowing stuff. But I never looked at “cheating” as team work – a kind of cooperation and division of labor. 🙂 I’m truly impressed by your point. 🙂

    11. True! And that might be an outcome of too much ‘regulation’.

    12. I read most of your linked article – I love their India – and could empathize with you. And I could also somewhat make out some of your pet peeves (which is a gentle way of saying you might be getting repetitive about certain things on your blog! 😛 ).

    13. This is a brilliant point, and it led me to think of an idea – starting from class 9 (assuming students get to ‘choose’ their vocation after class 12) every week a person from one of the professions must be invited to talk to kids. He/she can talk about what skills and training their job requires, what they love about it or hate about it and the ways in which that profession could be pursued. 🙂

    14. Hahaha! What you highlighted in bold-faced italicized font is something that truly made me laugh! Though, after class 6 till the school ended I’ve been one of the better scorers. 😀 But I would like to bring in another point here. There is an entire economic angle to this mindless competition – and that is resource crunch+socialism. We are a paranoid society. We are paranoid about our neighbor stealing food from our plate. We want to hoard things. We every time want to prove that we are better than others. Once we successfully prove that we are ‘better’, that sort of ensures that our lives will be comfortable, or that at least they won’t be one of strife. And thus we get a society obsessed with the ‘cream’. The ‘toppers’ are coveted because they are more likely to get government jobs or some of the corporate jobs in corporations that behave the way government does. And of course, whosoever’s position is coveted needs to be respected and praised, right? 😉

    15. Again, I agree. Rather, it is painful to see people with some residual innovative streak get stifled by office politics, regionalism, caste-based reservations, etc (I’m talking of science-related research organizations, of course).

    Hahaha! Now responding to your points under the category of ‘Parents and elders’ [you could’ve used a different hierarchical order. 😛 ]:

    1. http://ketpan.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/ethics-in-tangents-part-2-ethicality-and-false-sense-of-obligation-of-producing-children/ – this is the article I was talking about on twitter where I’ve dealt with my predicament of having v/s not having children. Of course, doing justice to the title of the post, I flew off the tangent and discussed something else as well. 😀

    2. I was just not aware of this aspect of parenting! Are kids *that* bad? 😛 You’re dissuading me further from having kids. 😀 The almost rhetorical questions you have asked are also very pertinent. But I think this sort of behavior can be better accounted for by a herd mentality and the subconscious insecurity that parents harbor that the others know better than themselves. Also, some want to use their kids as ‘trophies’ – I’m sure you know what I mean by that.

    3. This is another of things that I had not thought of in the way your presented it. 🙂

    4. True! That includes myself. I had done a very, very long-epic sized blog post on how I turned atheist. But it is so enormous in size that I will link it only if you brace yourself and put in a request. That post had a lot to do with my feeling abandoned and not loved by my parents. Secretly, I’m glad that few people have read that post despite its being so ‘public’. Those are not the kind of things I would easily share with people. 🙁

    5. Hahaha! This is one of those points where I disagree with you or would want your position better clarified. Of course, I’ve spoken about it on twitter and also explained it above at the very beginning of this comment (article?).

    6. That’s a bloody brilliant article! The insight in your writing gave me a tremendous inferiority complex! Oops, *I allowed* the brilliance of your article to give me an inferiority complex. 😀

    What you said about paying to have a child converted to an adult is a very common mentality prevalent among Indian (urban) parents.

    The irony you highlighted in how parents wonder how their kids on growing up abandon them was… again a stroke of brilliance! Yes, parents need to think about this. Really!

    As a side-note, it is after real long that someone made me introspect so much, made me review and revise some of my convictions, and that too on a matter on which I have thought a lot. This is one of the highest praises my narcissistic self could offer to someone. 🙂 The last person to do that with his blog was Harmanjit Singh. Though now I hardly read his posts, here’s the link if you’ve not already known his blog (which seems unlikely going by your interests) – http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/ 🙂

    As you might discover, when I leave these sort of long comments, I don’t care much about the ‘context’. I speak whatever it is that comes to my mind, and the kid in me hopes to be excused for that bad habit. 😀

    Take care.

    • Wow, Ketan, I am truly humbled by your response. There is no greater compliment my writing has received than your considered, careful responses. You have treasured my words, and me. Thank you.

      I am actually taking a breather before I write a vision of a schooling society, or rather a pro-children society which values learning. I will definitely be addressing the questions you raise in it, seeing as how they deserve their own space.

      Just wanted to respond in brief to your concern about choices that may be unpleasant, since that is a specific question emerging from the article matter directly. I see abuse as something that disrespects, disregards the child. I am not saying that you have to play a yes-man or that you have to avoid everything unpleasant, no matter the consequences.

      But I see these as exceptions, things that will end up happening, but not something you incorporate into your attitude. You plan anything, you don’t plan for disaster. You plan for what you want to do, and have contingency plans as seem appropriate. Things will come up when circumstances are not as desired. They may be things like medications or times when we lose our temper, for example. We are humans, after all. The idea is to recognize that our action had an impact on the child, to be empathetic. You will end up making/breaking/reevaluating rules as you go along, but your fundamental values guiding them need to be anchored strongly in the interest of the child. There needs to be an honest effort to examine everything that may not originate from there. It is not about pleasure. It is easy to show your child pleasurable cartoons rather than spend an hour drawing with him, the child is still thrilled from the exciting distraction of that need for your company. The pleasure doesn’t make the neglect a good idea.

      On the other hand, as a mostly single parent, I know I have put on cartoons in order to be able to have a bath or do something urgent, or hop across to a shop. N would definitely want me playing with him, but I am other roles than his playmate too. It is not the best solution, but it is what I have. There is no black and white. If I fail, that doesn’t mean that this plan is over and now I have to start hitting him and making him sit in a corner. If I slip, I’ll dust myself off, and continue from the moment I find myself in.

      This isn’t an exact answer to your question, because the whole idea of the article is about attitudes and a flexible and appropriate response. I cannot predict that. I can only share the ideas that will influence those choices.

      I do have a list of pet peeves, that keep showing up. Since the article is linked to this one, it may seem repetitive. In my defense, I can only say that I have made a very long list on a wide range of subjects, so that I may keep the diversity for my readers to remain entertained 😉

      Lockhart’s article is awesome indeed. I’ve lost track of the number of times I have referenced it. Joyce Fettrol is a woman. An unschooling mother, her site is FULL of this kind of thinking, only that she isn’t about schools at all.

      I remember now a term unschoolers often use about unthinking parents “unparenting”. I wish I had thought of it while writing the article 😀

      I will read your links and continue this conversation you have so amazingly initiated. And of course you are free to speak whatever you like and make as long comments as you wish. Everytime you have commented, you have added value to the subject.

      Thank you once more for your generosity of thought.

      Vidyut

  26. Vidyut,

    I’d start by stating that I largely agree with whatever you’ve written and also that most of things have seen me ponder upon them in the past. But then were also those things that I had never thought about and and others that you made me see through a new perspective, and that two are really the highest praise I can reserve for your article. 🙂 And which also make me grateful.

    The most commendable thing about your article is that it is full of empathy. You’ve actually succeeded in effectively showing what certain acts of adults look like to a child. And that is very, very difficult for most adults, including myself, to do. I agree (if that is what one of the things you meant) that even if parents have best of the intents, they end up doing things that are painful/unpleasant to the child and which don’t even actually benefit the child in any way.

    The predicament I was talking about over twitter is this: can a child be allowed to be as sovereign as an adult? I know, this question reeks of haughtiness that is typical of adults, but in hindsight, I do believe that at least there were a few things that had I been not forcefully taught I would have been worse off. And that I’m saying despite having been a largely ‘agreeable’ kid. There are many things that are taught to kids against their wishes – right from things like potty-training to brushing their teeth regularly to not eating unhealthy food to taking bitter medicines when ill (at least some of them are life-saving!) so on and so forth. 🙂 So, if we are to continue to teach these things to the kids, an element of force in the process of nurture is inescapable. If one agrees on a compromise upon kids’ sovereignty by use of force, then a difficult question would arise – where exactly does one stop?! As I was trying to tell over twitter, I’m unmarried and don’t have a child, but then I have thought a lot over these issues. The only reasonable position I’m able to reach is that I will force only those things upon my child, which after growing up I find justified (this is on lines of “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself”). But of course, even that is not the best ethical guide. Maybe, it can at best prevent me from the feeling of guilt on being forceful on (my) child. This is the only major area where I tend to disagree with you, or maybe I would like you to clarify your stance better – what do we do in those cases where the child stubbornly refuses to accept that we ‘know’ to be *good* or alternatively persistently craves for something we ‘know’ to be *bad*?

    Rest of your article is about schooling. I’ll discuss remarkable points in the order I encountered them.

    2. I really liked your highlighting how being wrong is as important as being right. You might have not said this out of space constraints, but let me add it, a child must never be made to feel that ‘wrong’ = ‘bad’. That is one of the problems that the whole of the Indian society suffers from, not just in area of schooling, but even elsewhere. Of course, in school environment that has a profound influence. When the penalties for being ‘wrong’ are too high, the child realizes that it is not ‘being’ right that is important, but being *perceived* as right, which is more important. And from here starts the life-long journey of lying, pretending and being insincere. Whereas, on the other had if the stakes between being seen as ‘right’ v/s ‘wrong’ were not that high, the child would be more willing to accept his/her state of being wrong, and would also be more empathetic towards those who’re proved ‘wrong’.

    3. I hate memorizing. There is too much of it in our educational system, and much of which is unrequired. Couldn’t have agreed with this more. I cringe to think that ‘maths’ for people is being able to memorize ‘tables’ for primary classes kids, being able to fit given data in one or the other algebraic formulae for the secondary school students and then on being able to manually calculate all that data *without making mistakes*! I’d scored well in maths only rarely. But I realized that I understood the concepts of graphs, logarithms, calculus much better than those who scored well. Also, I’d a much better understanding of practical implications of a given mathematical relation of proportionality (e.g., inversely proportional, inverse-squared, etc.) But I never liked to memorize complex trigonometric ‘identities’. That was all useless. 🙂

    4. Completely agree!

    5. I’ve a thing going for articulate people and using (any) language ‘accurately’, but yes, that’s just my personal prejudice. I agree with you. 🙂 A scientist needs to be coherent and does not need Thesaurus level knowledge. It is interesting to note that the Western world has largely gotten over this obsession of using complex words. They actually prefer simpler and shorter words. I’ve had quite some experience editing Wikipedia articles, and I was surprised to note that those with excellent knowledge of English would write ‘show’ instead of ‘demonstrate’. 🙂 We in India, would instead deliberately try to use longer words. [Medical people are guiltier of the last thing, I guess].

    6. Hahaha! My dad still feels that reading novels is a ‘bad’ thing. 🙂 My parents don’t have any inkling of my online activities. They have no idea that my English might be one of the best among my peers. That is the degree to which any material beyond my curriculum that I read was seen with scorn in my house. 🙂 I started reading stories beyond my school curriculum quite late in my life – class 11 to be precise. Ironically, I have almost stopped reading them as well. 🙂

    7. That’s a huge essay by Lockhart. I did read till page 5 and I found it very interesting. He’d some very interesting things to say, and I’ll read his article later. 🙂 I must say I’m guilty of some of the things he accuses the society of in how it misunderstands mathematicians. 🙁 Haven’t yet read Joyce’s article yet, just noticed that he makes deliberate typo in the title of his ‘blog’. 🙂

    8. What I have mentioned above in response to your point 2 is similar to what you have written here. Here I’d like to digress a bit. You have rightly pointed out how schooling is largely sadistic. It creates a few winners (‘rank-holders’, winners of poetry ‘recitation’ contests, painting ‘contests’, etc.), but rest are made to feel like they don’t matter! This, apart from doing them harm as individuals, also does immense harm to the society as a whole. I believe this sort of childhood-bred inferiority complex and fear of being considered redundant gives rise to feelings of communalism/sectarianism/factionalism because individuals start seeking ‘validation’/societal ‘approval’ in numbers. Besides, this tendency creates very early in children a need to outshine others. It creates a needlessly competitive environment and stress. That is the reason we have so many contests on TV, and that is the reason we see people struggle so much and compete with each other despite the fact that very little of this struggle is for actually acquiring resources necessary for life or happiness! And that is something I find really weird about the Indian society. I had discussed some of these related ideas in a post called ‘Communalism’ [ http://ketpan.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/communalism/ ] (in a very unrefined fashion 😀 ). I hope I’m not found of guilty of trying to ‘engineer’ kids for larger social ‘good’ in that post of mine. 😛

    9. This is one of those points that I had never thought of. But then the problem stems from schools being ‘assembly-lines’ (a term I frequently use to describe the Indian education system, of course, with derision). How can products from different ‘batch’, ‘finished’ to differing degrees be allowed to be on the same ‘line’? 😉 On a more serious note, your point got me thinking. And I could not think of an arrangement wherein children of different age-groups can be brought together. I know, here I’m committing the mistake of not thinking out-of-the box enough, meaning, I’ve yet not heard your ideas on how to entirely overhaul the education system. So, if I try to incorporate your suggestions in the *current* setup, the result is quite likely to be dissatisfactory. 🙂 One of the things I was thinking was older children getting to teach instead of teachers. 🙂 But I don’t know if that in itself is a good idea. In what respects is that different from ‘older’ teachers teaching the kids? [Last one is not a rhetorical question].

    10. Wow! This is the point that had totally put me in awe! I’ve always had problems with considering “cheating” in exams as ‘wrong’, though haven’t indulged much in that. But that was because of different reasons. I consider solving previous years’ questions in anticipation that they would be repeated akin to ‘leaking’ a paper. And I consider writing something from memory (without understanding it) as “answer” akin to plagiarism and a kind of dishonest pretense of knowing stuff. But I never looked at “cheating” as team work – a kind of cooperation and division of labor. 🙂 I’m truly impressed by your point. 🙂

    11. True! And that might be an outcome of too much ‘regulation’.

    12. I read most of your linked article – I love their India – and could empathize with you. And I could also somewhat make out some of your pet peeves (which is a gentle way of saying you might be getting repetitive about certain things on your blog! 😛 ).

    13. This is a brilliant point, and it led me to think of an idea – starting from class 9 (assuming students get to ‘choose’ their vocation after class 12) every week a person from one of the professions must be invited to talk to kids. He/she can talk about what skills and training their job requires, what they love about it or hate about it and the ways in which that profession could be pursued. 🙂

    14. Hahaha! What you highlighted in bold-faced italicized font is something that truly made me laugh! Though, after class 6 till the school ended I’ve been one of the better scorers. 😀 But I would like to bring in another point here. There is an entire economic angle to this mindless competition – and that is resource crunch+socialism. We are a paranoid society. We are paranoid about our neighbor stealing food from our plate. We want to hoard things. We every time want to prove that we are better than others. Once we successfully prove that we are ‘better’, that sort of ensures that our lives will be comfortable, or that at least they won’t be one of strife. And thus we get a society obsessed with the ‘cream’. The ‘toppers’ are coveted because they are more likely to get government jobs or some of the corporate jobs in corporations that behave the way government does. And of course, whosoever’s position is coveted needs to be respected and praised, right? 😉

    15. Again, I agree. Rather, it is painful to see people with some residual innovative streak get stifled by office politics, regionalism, caste-based reservations, etc (I’m talking of science-related research organizations, of course).

    Hahaha! Now responding to your points under the category of ‘Parents and elders’ [you could’ve used a different hierarchical order. 😛 ]:

    1. http://ketpan.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/ethics-in-tangents-part-2-ethicality-and-false-sense-of-obligation-of-producing-children/ – this is the article I was talking about on twitter where I’ve dealt with my predicament of having v/s not having children. Of course, doing justice to the title of the post, I flew off the tangent and discussed something else as well. 😀

    2. I was just not aware of this aspect of parenting! Are kids *that* bad? 😛 You’re dissuading me further from having kids. 😀 The almost rhetorical questions you have asked are also very pertinent. But I think this sort of behavior can be better accounted for by a herd mentality and the subconscious insecurity that parents harbor that the others know better than themselves. Also, some want to use their kids as ‘trophies’ – I’m sure you know what I mean by that.

    3. This is another of things that I had not thought of in the way your presented it. 🙂

    4. True! That includes myself. I had done a very, very long-epic sized blog post on how I turned atheist. But it is so enormous in size that I will link it only if you brace yourself and put in a request. That post had a lot to do with my feeling abandoned and not loved by my parents. Secretly, I’m glad that few people have read that post despite its being so ‘public’. Those are not the kind of things I would easily share with people. 🙁

    5. Hahaha! This is one of those points where I disagree with you or would want your position better clarified. Of course, I’ve spoken about it on twitter and also explained it above at the very beginning of this comment (article?).

    6. That’s a bloody brilliant article! The insight in your writing gave me a tremendous inferiority complex! Oops, *I allowed* the brilliance of your article to give me an inferiority complex. 😀

    What you said about paying to have a child converted to an adult is a very common mentality prevalent among Indian (urban) parents.

    The irony you highlighted in how parents wonder how their kids on growing up abandon them was… again a stroke of brilliance! Yes, parents need to think about this. Really!

    As a side-note, it is after real long that someone made me introspect so much, made me review and revise some of my convictions, and that too on a matter on which I have thought a lot. This is one of the highest praises my narcissistic self could offer to someone. 🙂 The last person to do that with his blog was Harmanjit Singh. Though now I hardly read his posts, here’s the link if you’ve not already known his blog (which seems unlikely going by your interests) – http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/ 🙂

    As you might discover, when I leave these sort of long comments, I don’t care much about the ‘context’. I speak whatever it is that comes to my mind, and the kid in me hopes to be excused for that bad habit. 😀

    Take care.

  27. Vidyut,

    I’d start by stating that I largely agree with whatever you’ve written and also that most of things have seen me ponder upon them in the past. But then were also those things that I had never thought about and and others that you made me see through a new perspective, and that two are really the highest praise I can reserve for your article. 🙂 And which also make me grateful.

    The most commendable thing about your article is that it is full of empathy. You’ve actually succeeded in effectively showing what certain acts of adults look like to a child. And that is very, very difficult for most adults, including myself, to do. I agree (if that is what one of the things you meant) that even if parents have best of the intents, they end up doing things that are painful/unpleasant to the child and which don’t even actually benefit the child in any way.

    The predicament I was talking about over twitter is this: can a child be allowed to be as sovereign as an adult? I know, this question reeks of haughtiness that is typical of adults, but in hindsight, I do believe that at least there were a few things that had I been not forcefully taught I would have been worse off. And that I’m saying despite having been a largely ‘agreeable’ kid. There are many things that are taught to kids against their wishes – right from things like potty-training to brushing their teeth regularly to not eating unhealthy food to taking bitter medicines when ill (at least some of them are life-saving!) so on and so forth. 🙂 So, if we are to continue to teach these things to the kids, an element of force in the process of nurture is inescapable. If one agrees on a compromise upon kids’ sovereignty by use of force, then a difficult question would arise – where exactly does one stop?! As I was trying to tell over twitter, I’m unmarried and don’t have a child, but then I have thought a lot over these issues. The only reasonable position I’m able to reach is that I will force only those things upon my child, which after growing up I find justified (this is on lines of “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself”). But of course, even that is not the best ethical guide. Maybe, it can at best prevent me from the feeling of guilt on being forceful on (my) child. This is the only major area where I tend to disagree with you, or maybe I would like you to clarify your stance better – what do we do in those cases where the child stubbornly refuses to accept that we ‘know’ to be *good* or alternatively persistently craves for something we ‘know’ to be *bad*?

    Rest of your article is about schooling. I’ll discuss remarkable points in the order I encountered them.

    2. I really liked your highlighting how being wrong is as important as being right. You might have not said this out of space constraints, but let me add it, a child must never be made to feel that ‘wrong’ = ‘bad’. That is one of the problems that the whole of the Indian society suffers from, not just in area of schooling, but even elsewhere. Of course, in school environment that has a profound influence. When the penalties for being ‘wrong’ are too high, the child realizes that it is not ‘being’ right that is important, but being *perceived* as right, which is more important. And from here starts the life-long journey of lying, pretending and being insincere. Whereas, on the other had if the stakes between being seen as ‘right’ v/s ‘wrong’ were not that high, the child would be more willing to accept his/her state of being wrong, and would also be more empathetic towards those who’re proved ‘wrong’.

    3. I hate memorizing. There is too much of it in our educational system, and much of which is unrequired. Couldn’t have agreed with this more. I cringe to think that ‘maths’ for people is being able to memorize ‘tables’ for primary classes kids, being able to fit given data in one or the other algebraic formulae for the secondary school students and then on being able to manually calculate all that data *without making mistakes*! I’d scored well in maths only rarely. But I realized that I understood the concepts of graphs, logarithms, calculus much better than those who scored well. Also, I’d a much better understanding of practical implications of a given mathematical relation of proportionality (e.g., inversely proportional, inverse-squared, etc.) But I never liked to memorize complex trigonometric ‘identities’. That was all useless. 🙂

    4. Completely agree!

    5. I’ve a thing going for articulate people and using (any) language ‘accurately’, but yes, that’s just my personal prejudice. I agree with you. 🙂 A scientist needs to be coherent and does not need Thesaurus level knowledge. It is interesting to note that the Western world has largely gotten over this obsession of using complex words. They actually prefer simpler and shorter words. I’ve had quite some experience editing Wikipedia articles, and I was surprised to note that those with excellent knowledge of English would write ‘show’ instead of ‘demonstrate’. 🙂 We in India, would instead deliberately try to use longer words. [Medical people are guiltier of the last thing, I guess].

    6. Hahaha! My dad still feels that reading novels is a ‘bad’ thing. 🙂 My parents don’t have any inkling of my online activities. They have no idea that my English might be one of the best among my peers. That is the degree to which any material beyond my curriculum that I read was seen with scorn in my house. 🙂 I started reading stories beyond my school curriculum quite late in my life – class 11 to be precise. Ironically, I have almost stopped reading them as well. 🙂

    7. That’s a huge essay by Lockhart. I did read till page 5 and I found it very interesting. He’d some very interesting things to say, and I’ll read his article later. 🙂 I must say I’m guilty of some of the things he accuses the society of in how it misunderstands mathematicians. 🙁 Haven’t yet read Joyce’s article yet, just noticed that he makes deliberate typo in the title of his ‘blog’. 🙂

    8. What I have mentioned above in response to your point 2 is similar to what you have written here. Here I’d like to digress a bit. You have rightly pointed out how schooling is largely sadistic. It creates a few winners (‘rank-holders’, winners of poetry ‘recitation’ contests, painting ‘contests’, etc.), but rest are made to feel like they don’t matter! This, apart from doing them harm as individuals, also does immense harm to the society as a whole. I believe this sort of childhood-bred inferiority complex and fear of being considered redundant gives rise to feelings of communalism/sectarianism/factionalism because individuals start seeking ‘validation’/societal ‘approval’ in numbers. Besides, this tendency creates very early in children a need to outshine others. It creates a needlessly competitive environment and stress. That is the reason we have so many contests on TV, and that is the reason we see people struggle so much and compete with each other despite the fact that very little of this struggle is for actually acquiring resources necessary for life or happiness! And that is something I find really weird about the Indian society. I had discussed some of these related ideas in a post called ‘Communalism’ [ http://ketpan.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/communalism/ ] (in a very unrefined fashion 😀 ). I hope I’m not found of guilty of trying to ‘engineer’ kids for larger social ‘good’ in that post of mine. 😛

    9. This is one of those points that I had never thought of. But then the problem stems from schools being ‘assembly-lines’ (a term I frequently use to describe the Indian education system, of course, with derision). How can products from different ‘batch’, ‘finished’ to differing degrees be allowed to be on the same ‘line’? 😉 On a more serious note, your point got me thinking. And I could not think of an arrangement wherein children of different age-groups can be brought together. I know, here I’m committing the mistake of not thinking out-of-the box enough, meaning, I’ve yet not heard your ideas on how to entirely overhaul the education system. So, if I try to incorporate your suggestions in the *current* setup, the result is quite likely to be dissatisfactory. 🙂 One of the things I was thinking was older children getting to teach instead of teachers. 🙂 But I don’t know if that in itself is a good idea. In what respects is that different from ‘older’ teachers teaching the kids? [Last one is not a rhetorical question].

    10. Wow! This is the point that had totally put me in awe! I’ve always had problems with considering “cheating” in exams as ‘wrong’, though haven’t indulged much in that. But that was because of different reasons. I consider solving previous years’ questions in anticipation that they would be repeated akin to ‘leaking’ a paper. And I consider writing something from memory (without understanding it) as “answer” akin to plagiarism and a kind of dishonest pretense of knowing stuff. But I never looked at “cheating” as team work – a kind of cooperation and division of labor. 🙂 I’m truly impressed by your point. 🙂

    11. True! And that might be an outcome of too much ‘regulation’.

    12. I read most of your linked article – I love their India – and could empathize with you. And I could also somewhat make out some of your pet peeves (which is a gentle way of saying you might be getting repetitive about certain things on your blog! 😛 ).

    13. This is a brilliant point, and it led me to think of an idea – starting from class 9 (assuming students get to ‘choose’ their vocation after class 12) every week a person from one of the professions must be invited to talk to kids. He/she can talk about what skills and training their job requires, what they love about it or hate about it and the ways in which that profession could be pursued. 🙂

    14. Hahaha! What you highlighted in bold-faced italicized font is something that truly made me laugh! Though, after class 6 till the school ended I’ve been one of the better scorers. 😀 But I would like to bring in another point here. There is an entire economic angle to this mindless competition – and that is resource crunch+socialism. We are a paranoid society. We are paranoid about our neighbor stealing food from our plate. We want to hoard things. We every time want to prove that we are better than others. Once we successfully prove that we are ‘better’, that sort of ensures that our lives will be comfortable, or that at least they won’t be one of strife. And thus we get a society obsessed with the ‘cream’. The ‘toppers’ are coveted because they are more likely to get government jobs or some of the corporate jobs in corporations that behave the way government does. And of course, whosoever’s position is coveted needs to be respected and praised, right? 😉

    15. Again, I agree. Rather, it is painful to see people with some residual innovative streak get stifled by office politics, regionalism, caste-based reservations, etc (I’m talking of science-related research organizations, of course).

    Hahaha! Now responding to your points under the category of ‘Parents and elders’ [you could’ve used a different hierarchical order. 😛 ]:

    1. http://ketpan.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/ethics-in-tangents-part-2-ethicality-and-false-sense-of-obligation-of-producing-children/ – this is the article I was talking about on twitter where I’ve dealt with my predicament of having v/s not having children. Of course, doing justice to the title of the post, I flew off the tangent and discussed something else as well. 😀

    2. I was just not aware of this aspect of parenting! Are kids *that* bad? 😛 You’re dissuading me further from having kids. 😀 The almost rhetorical questions you have asked are also very pertinent. But I think this sort of behavior can be better accounted for by a herd mentality and the subconscious insecurity that parents harbor that the others know better than themselves. Also, some want to use their kids as ‘trophies’ – I’m sure you know what I mean by that.

    3. This is another of things that I had not thought of in the way your presented it. 🙂

    4. True! That includes myself. I had done a very, very long-epic sized blog post on how I turned atheist. But it is so enormous in size that I will link it only if you brace yourself and put in a request. That post had a lot to do with my feeling abandoned and not loved by my parents. Secretly, I’m glad that few people have read that post despite its being so ‘public’. Those are not the kind of things I would easily share with people. 🙁

    5. Hahaha! This is one of those points where I disagree with you or would want your position better clarified. Of course, I’ve spoken about it on twitter and also explained it above at the very beginning of this comment (article?).

    6. That’s a bloody brilliant article! The insight in your writing gave me a tremendous inferiority complex! Oops, *I allowed* the brilliance of your article to give me an inferiority complex. 😀

    What you said about paying to have a child converted to an adult is a very common mentality prevalent among Indian (urban) parents.

    The irony you highlighted in how parents wonder how their kids on growing up abandon them was… again a stroke of brilliance! Yes, parents need to think about this. Really!

    As a side-note, it is after real long that someone made me introspect so much, made me review and revise some of my convictions, and that too on a matter on which I have thought a lot. This is one of the highest praises my narcissistic self could offer to someone. 🙂 The last person to do that with his blog was Harmanjit Singh. Though now I hardly read his posts, here’s the link if you’ve not already known his blog (which seems unlikely going by your interests) – http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/ 🙂

    As you might discover, when I leave these sort of long comments, I don’t care much about the ‘context’. I speak whatever it is that comes to my mind, and the kid in me hopes to be excused for that bad habit. 😀

    Take care.

  28. Vidyut,

    I’d start by stating that I largely agree with whatever you’ve written and also that most of things have seen me ponder upon them in the past. But then were also those things that I had never thought about and and others that you made me see through a new perspective, and that two are really the highest praise I can reserve for your article. 🙂 And which also make me grateful.

    The most commendable thing about your article is that it is full of empathy. You’ve actually succeeded in effectively showing what certain acts of adults look like to a child. And that is very, very difficult for most adults, including myself, to do. I agree (if that is what one of the things you meant) that even if parents have best of the intents, they end up doing things that are painful/unpleasant to the child and which don’t even actually benefit the child in any way.

    The predicament I was talking about over twitter is this: can a child be allowed to be as sovereign as an adult? I know, this question reeks of haughtiness that is typical of adults, but in hindsight, I do believe that at least there were a few things that had I been not forcefully taught I would have been worse off. And that I’m saying despite having been a largely ‘agreeable’ kid. There are many things that are taught to kids against their wishes – right from things like potty-training to brushing their teeth regularly to not eating unhealthy food to taking bitter medicines when ill (at least some of them are life-saving!) so on and so forth. 🙂 So, if we are to continue to teach these things to the kids, an element of force in the process of nurture is inescapable. If one agrees on a compromise upon kids’ sovereignty by use of force, then a difficult question would arise – where exactly does one stop?! As I was trying to tell over twitter, I’m unmarried and don’t have a child, but then I have thought a lot over these issues. The only reasonable position I’m able to reach is that I will force only those things upon my child, which after growing up I find justified (this is on lines of “do unto others as you would have done unto yourself”). But of course, even that is not the best ethical guide. Maybe, it can at best prevent me from the feeling of guilt on being forceful on (my) child. This is the only major area where I tend to disagree with you, or maybe I would like you to clarify your stance better – what do we do in those cases where the child stubbornly refuses to accept that we ‘know’ to be *good* or alternatively persistently craves for something we ‘know’ to be *bad*?

    Rest of your article is about schooling. I’ll discuss remarkable points in the order I encountered them.

    2. I really liked your highlighting how being wrong is as important as being right. You might have not said this out of space constraints, but let me add it, a child must never be made to feel that ‘wrong’ = ‘bad’. That is one of the problems that the whole of the Indian society suffers from, not just in area of schooling, but even elsewhere. Of course, in school environment that has a profound influence. When the penalties for being ‘wrong’ are too high, the child realizes that it is not ‘being’ right that is important, but being *perceived* as right, which is more important. And from here starts the life-long journey of lying, pretending and being insincere. Whereas, on the other had if the stakes between being seen as ‘right’ v/s ‘wrong’ were not that high, the child would be more willing to accept his/her state of being wrong, and would also be more empathetic towards those who’re proved ‘wrong’.

    3. I hate memorizing. There is too much of it in our educational system, and much of which is unrequired. Couldn’t have agreed with this more. I cringe to think that ‘maths’ for people is being able to memorize ‘tables’ for primary classes kids, being able to fit given data in one or the other algebraic formulae for the secondary school students and then on being able to manually calculate all that data *without making mistakes*! I’d scored well in maths only rarely. But I realized that I understood the concepts of graphs, logarithms, calculus much better than those who scored well. Also, I’d a much better understanding of practical implications of a given mathematical relation of proportionality (e.g., inversely proportional, inverse-squared, etc.) But I never liked to memorize complex trigonometric ‘identities’. That was all useless. 🙂

    4. Completely agree!

    5. I’ve a thing going for articulate people and using (any) language ‘accurately’, but yes, that’s just my personal prejudice. I agree with you. 🙂 A scientist needs to be coherent and does not need Thesaurus level knowledge. It is interesting to note that the Western world has largely gotten over this obsession of using complex words. They actually prefer simpler and shorter words. I’ve had quite some experience editing Wikipedia articles, and I was surprised to note that those with excellent knowledge of English would write ‘show’ instead of ‘demonstrate’. 🙂 We in India, would instead deliberately try to use longer words. [Medical people are guiltier of the last thing, I guess].

    6. Hahaha! My dad still feels that reading novels is a ‘bad’ thing. 🙂 My parents don’t have any inkling of my online activities. They have no idea that my English might be one of the best among my peers. That is the degree to which any material beyond my curriculum that I read was seen with scorn in my house. 🙂 I started reading stories beyond my school curriculum quite late in my life – class 11 to be precise. Ironically, I have almost stopped reading them as well. 🙂

    7. That’s a huge essay by Lockhart. I did read till page 5 and I found it very interesting. He’d some very interesting things to say, and I’ll read his article later. 🙂 I must say I’m guilty of some of the things he accuses the society of in how it misunderstands mathematicians. 🙁 Haven’t yet read Joyce’s article yet, just noticed that he makes deliberate typo in the title of his ‘blog’. 🙂

    8. What I have mentioned above in response to your point 2 is similar to what you have written here. Here I’d like to digress a bit. You have rightly pointed out how schooling is largely sadistic. It creates a few winners (‘rank-holders’, winners of poetry ‘recitation’ contests, painting ‘contests’, etc.), but rest are made to feel like they don’t matter! This, apart from doing them harm as individuals, also does immense harm to the society as a whole. I believe this sort of childhood-bred inferiority complex and fear of being considered redundant gives rise to feelings of communalism/sectarianism/factionalism because individuals start seeking ‘validation’/societal ‘approval’ in numbers. Besides, this tendency creates very early in children a need to outshine others. It creates a needlessly competitive environment and stress. That is the reason we have so many contests on TV, and that is the reason we see people struggle so much and compete with each other despite the fact that very little of this struggle is for actually acquiring resources necessary for life or happiness! And that is something I find really weird about the Indian society. I had discussed some of these related ideas in a post called ‘Communalism’ [ http://ketpan.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/communalism/ ] (in a very unrefined fashion 😀 ). I hope I’m not found of guilty of trying to ‘engineer’ kids for larger social ‘good’ in that post of mine. 😛

    9. This is one of those points that I had never thought of. But then the problem stems from schools being ‘assembly-lines’ (a term I frequently use to describe the Indian education system, of course, with derision). How can products from different ‘batch’, ‘finished’ to differing degrees be allowed to be on the same ‘line’? 😉 On a more serious note, your point got me thinking. And I could not think of an arrangement wherein children of different age-groups can be brought together. I know, here I’m committing the mistake of not thinking out-of-the box enough, meaning, I’ve yet not heard your ideas on how to entirely overhaul the education system. So, if I try to incorporate your suggestions in the *current* setup, the result is quite likely to be dissatisfactory. 🙂 One of the things I was thinking was older children getting to teach instead of teachers. 🙂 But I don’t know if that in itself is a good idea. In what respects is that different from ‘older’ teachers teaching the kids? [Last one is not a rhetorical question].

    10. Wow! This is the point that had totally put me in awe! I’ve always had problems with considering “cheating” in exams as ‘wrong’, though haven’t indulged much in that. But that was because of different reasons. I consider solving previous years’ questions in anticipation that they would be repeated akin to ‘leaking’ a paper. And I consider writing something from memory (without understanding it) as “answer” akin to plagiarism and a kind of dishonest pretense of knowing stuff. But I never looked at “cheating” as team work – a kind of cooperation and division of labor. 🙂 I’m truly impressed by your point. 🙂

    11. True! And that might be an outcome of too much ‘regulation’.

    12. I read most of your linked article – I love their India – and could empathize with you. And I could also somewhat make out some of your pet peeves (which is a gentle way of saying you might be getting repetitive about certain things on your blog! 😛 ).

    13. This is a brilliant point, and it led me to think of an idea – starting from class 9 (assuming students get to ‘choose’ their vocation after class 12) every week a person from one of the professions must be invited to talk to kids. He/she can talk about what skills and training their job requires, what they love about it or hate about it and the ways in which that profession could be pursued. 🙂

    14. Hahaha! What you highlighted in bold-faced italicized font is something that truly made me laugh! Though, after class 6 till the school ended I’ve been one of the better scorers. 😀 But I would like to bring in another point here. There is an entire economic angle to this mindless competition – and that is resource crunch+socialism. We are a paranoid society. We are paranoid about our neighbor stealing food from our plate. We want to hoard things. We every time want to prove that we are better than others. Once we successfully prove that we are ‘better’, that sort of ensures that our lives will be comfortable, or that at least they won’t be one of strife. And thus we get a society obsessed with the ‘cream’. The ‘toppers’ are coveted because they are more likely to get government jobs or some of the corporate jobs in corporations that behave the way government does. And of course, whosoever’s position is coveted needs to be respected and praised, right? 😉

    15. Again, I agree. Rather, it is painful to see people with some residual innovative streak get stifled by office politics, regionalism, caste-based reservations, etc (I’m talking of science-related research organizations, of course).

    Hahaha! Now responding to your points under the category of ‘Parents and elders’ [you could’ve used a different hierarchical order. 😛 ]:

    1. http://ketpan.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/ethics-in-tangents-part-2-ethicality-and-false-sense-of-obligation-of-producing-children/ – this is the article I was talking about on twitter where I’ve dealt with my predicament of having v/s not having children. Of course, doing justice to the title of the post, I flew off the tangent and discussed something else as well. 😀

    2. I was just not aware of this aspect of parenting! Are kids *that* bad? 😛 You’re dissuading me further from having kids. 😀 The almost rhetorical questions you have asked are also very pertinent. But I think this sort of behavior can be better accounted for by a herd mentality and the subconscious insecurity that parents harbor that the others know better than themselves. Also, some want to use their kids as ‘trophies’ – I’m sure you know what I mean by that.

    3. This is another of things that I had not thought of in the way your presented it. 🙂

    4. True! That includes myself. I had done a very, very long-epic sized blog post on how I turned atheist. But it is so enormous in size that I will link it only if you brace yourself and put in a request. That post had a lot to do with my feeling abandoned and not loved by my parents. Secretly, I’m glad that few people have read that post despite its being so ‘public’. Those are not the kind of things I would easily share with people. 🙁

    5. Hahaha! This is one of those points where I disagree with you or would want your position better clarified. Of course, I’ve spoken about it on twitter and also explained it above at the very beginning of this comment (article?).

    6. That’s a bloody brilliant article! The insight in your writing gave me a tremendous inferiority complex! Oops, *I allowed* the brilliance of your article to give me an inferiority complex. 😀

    What you said about paying to have a child converted to an adult is a very common mentality prevalent among Indian (urban) parents.

    The irony you highlighted in how parents wonder how their kids on growing up abandon them was… again a stroke of brilliance! Yes, parents need to think about this. Really!

    As a side-note, it is after real long that someone made me introspect so much, made me review and revise some of my convictions, and that too on a matter on which I have thought a lot. This is one of the highest praises my narcissistic self could offer to someone. 🙂 The last person to do that with his blog was Harmanjit Singh. Though now I hardly read his posts, here’s the link if you’ve not already known his blog (which seems unlikely going by your interests) – http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/ 🙂

    As you might discover, when I leave these sort of long comments, I don’t care much about the ‘context’. I speak whatever it is that comes to my mind, and the kid in me hopes to be excused for that bad habit. 😀

    Take care.

  29. Bharati Mishra | May 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Reply

     Wow .. , this article was very impressive, it was a eye opener, it has given me a ABSOLUTE NEW PERSPECTIVE  to  a students life. I am a teacher but I would want all my fellow teachers to read & digest this.

  30. Bharati Mishra | May 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Reply

     Wow .. , this article was very impressive, it was a eye opener, it has given me a ABSOLUTE NEW PERSPECTIVE  to  a students life. I am a teacher but I would want all my fellow teachers to read & digest this.

  31. Bharati Mishra | May 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Reply

     Wow .. , this article was very impressive, it was a eye opener, it has given me a ABSOLUTE NEW PERSPECTIVE  to  a students life. I am a teacher but I would want all my fellow teachers to read & digest this.

  32. Bharati Mishra | May 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Reply

     Wow .. , this article was very impressive, it was a eye opener, it has given me a ABSOLUTE NEW PERSPECTIVE  to  a students life. I am a teacher but I would want all my fellow teachers to read & digest this.

  33. Nice one.

  34. Nice one.

  35. Nice one.

  36. Nice one.

  37.  Thank you for putting this down Vidyut, resonates a lot with how I feel about bringing up children, not to mean that i havent succumbed to some of the pressures….but it is a constant battle and an acheful one at that.

  38.  Thank you for putting this down Vidyut, resonates a lot with how I feel about bringing up children, not to mean that i havent succumbed to some of the pressures….but it is a constant battle and an acheful one at that.

  39.  Thank you for putting this down Vidyut, resonates a lot with how I feel about bringing up children, not to mean that i havent succumbed to some of the pressures….but it is a constant battle and an acheful one at that.

  40.  Thank you for putting this down Vidyut, resonates a lot with how I feel about bringing up children, not to mean that i havent succumbed to some of the pressures….but it is a constant battle and an acheful one at that.

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