Published on March 4th, 20150
Are you raising a racehorse?
Umpteen tuition, skill and hobby classes, sky high expectations…are we raising a generation of decent, smart children or super intelligent robots?
If someday I were to make a list of FAQs put to me, the undisputed winner would be, “So which after-school classes does your child go to?”
Now, I have nothing against nurturing a child’s talent and letting him or her pursue a hobby. In fact, in today’s times, when all one seems to be doing is getting up, rushing to catch an already-packed local train, slogging away and coming home drained of all senses, a hobby is a cozy nook where one retreats to find solace. So why not get the kids started when they are still young?
But then, the proverbial buck refuses to stop here. It is now a plethora of hobbies that a child is exposed to. So an average eight-year old is expected to excel at academics, play the keyboard, dance away to glory, swim on weekends, win accolades in school competitions, and somewhere between all these find the time to attend the phonics and abacus classes regularly. If for some reason the child lags behind and cannot cope with these Herculean standards, voilà! The “Mid-brain activation” seminars come to the rescue.
These seminars supposedly help in using both sides of the brain optimally. The results proclaimed by the activation centers are “super kids” with super intelligence. And pray, why does one need to have super kids? Is it so that they can solve a Rubik’s cube or read a newspaper blindfolded? I am still waiting for a day in my life when solving any puzzle blindfolded has helped me resolve a life-threatening situation, or even pull myself out of whatever soup I may be in, to say the least.
Gone are those days when children used to come home from school, throw their school bags on the floor and head out to play till late in the evenings. I lament the fact that today, hardly any mother has to go searching for her child in the colony’s play area and bring back a sweaty, bruised but happy child at the end of the day. Hobbies become burdens when enforced. Mozart’s mother did not latch a satchel on to his little back and bundle him off to learn the piano from some coach. Shakespeare’s father never took him to any creative writing class. Even Vishwanathan Anand never attended those hourly weekend chess classes!
Water always finds its level. All we need to give it is space to flow. Let nature work its magic. Our role as parents is to raise children, not breed racehorses.
Aarohi Mehta is a Professor of French at Alliance Française de Bombay, a full-time mom, bibliophile, holder of opinions and dabbler in words.
(Pictures courtesy www.thehindu.com, www.ibtimes.co.uk. Images are used for representational purpose only)