Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An ode to all saints who renounced 'thinking'

How peer pressure can make life good bad and ugly !

I will start with my students in Shillong who are now working in different parts of the world , running family businesses, or pursuing their passion and yet making life a super hit.

‘Good’ examples

Amit: Belongs to one of the wealthiest business families in the north east. A good Samaritan and pure heart. I am yet to meet someone as clear hearted as he is. He is managing family business from his Grade XI itself. He is like the ‘Richie Rich’ with moneybags all around him. Yet, his conscience and values are always in the right place. Many Bettys and Veronicas tried to get his attention but he remains the honest young man even now. Graduated because it gives him a degree but all the norms of the business were his strengths even before that.

Ethical businessman and a godfearing gentleman, Amit is a standing example of inner strength. Many friends, but none could influence him to go wayward, on the contrary, he has set up businesses for his wayward friends and got them back to a respectful track. He believes in Charity and philanthropy.

Aditya: Son of a rich Marwari business family. He was the Head Boy of the school in XII. In his XI grade, he told me that he will do something different and he proved his point by going to Australia to pursue his MBA.
He could have easily slipped into the family business and still done justice to it. He chose to be different and that’s why he is in Commonwealth Bank now.
He is also convincing his family to refrain from lavish expenses in a stereotype wedding which is typical of a marwadi wedding. His bride-to-be is as keen to join him in his ideals as he is.

Among Jamir: Except for his silent smiles and dignified presence, I was never sure of his mental presence in the class until I saw his answer sheets where every word I discussed would be in them. I always wondered how such a soft and gentle young man will brave the big bad world.
To my immense pride, he is a Masters in Defence Studies from Pune and a Rock star who entertains the big world with his (soul) strings of guitar. He lives, earns and enjoys well. He aspires to be in the Civil Services which he will do at his own pace. He does not go by the world’s pace, he identified his own track.

I can speak of Swati & Irene who are ‘Mastering’ Law, silent Sahil who reinvented himself as a debonair youngman attending IPL parties and managing family business, Archika who is into social work, ….

What I actually want to say is, each one of them pursued what their hearts connected to and so they are doing well.

From the north eastern corners of India if I can take these examples of creating one's own track, my examples from the hi-tech city of Hyderabad are a little different.

Not so good examples

In the last 5 years I have seen many students who have pursued the track created by the parents, corporate colleges and society.
Whether their heart is in it or not, is a debatable point because everybody talks about something called ‘competition’.

Nobody talks about anything called the thrill of being a mechanical engineer to design new tools, a doctor to provide good health, a software engineer to create new chips ! All they talk about is ‘competition’ and exams.

An entrance exam is like a lottery and everyone buys the tickets. And getting a good rank or a free seat is as seldom as winning that millions of lottery. But they wont stop buying the tickets.

They join the race because
Family and relatives believe that this is the only way to a bright future
• It’s the done thing-yo! Everybody is doing it so why dont we also do it !
• All their career cousnelling is done by cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, colleagues of parents etc etc.,
• their friends may look down upon them if they don’t take up MPC and IIT coaching.
• they can escape the wrath of the parents for 2 years
• they live in a world of information technology but they neither have information on other courses nor use the technology for gathering the right information
• they visualize themselves as IT professionals globetrotting and fancy living.
• they want to become rocket scientists without a clue about it
• no one sees beyond the 4 years of engineering- like future jobs and opportunities !

I have a student who imagines himself as a warrior, so he wants to be in the army. He is very tech savvy but did not use the technology to know what it takes to be an army man.

Another bright and intellectual student who is not very math or Sc pro, is joining a remote residential college because his cousin cleared the IIT from there so the father believes that he can also clear if he goes through the same regimentation.

A very intelligent and balanced young man also joins the race to satisfy his parents but his heart is in humanities and scholarly subjects.

A good Samaritan who has promising leadership qualities also joined the rat race because he wanted to follow his friends.

Everybody believes that life is a race. But life is an experience to live.

I read a very practical book called ‘Don’t sprint the marathon’ by Dr V Raghunathan.

I would recommend it to all those who treat life as something to be achieved in these 2 years of intermediate coaching alone!

Everybody talks about foundation for long adulthood in the short span of 8 years –that is 10 to 18yrs. Actually speaking, adulthood is the longest phase of life where all living and learning is done.

I wish adults and young people will widen their horizons and see life in a broader perspective.

Episode punch

Long ago
People who sacrificed
Their sleep

their food
their family
their laughter
were called saints.
But now they are called

as students of corporate colleges

I dedicate this to all the saints who have renounced 'thinking' !


Unknown said...

Dear Madam,
I do agree with your post. It is true that people are into the competition world because of race....As far as my knowledge, all these so called mechanical engineers , doctors and software engineers who were into race and obtained their positions were obviously due to some kind of pressure as you said or just like a sheep mentality. But looking at the other side of it, like a software engineer or a doctor or a civil service officer who has lot of integrity not only balances work but tries to focus heart on developing the rural areas and charities, etc. I feel that position brings the real harmony which they actually intend to do. This is like saints too can do wonders. Once again my hearty kudos to you for an enlightening blog. And hope the saints will focus on their career goals.

posiedonster said...

The basic point which i understand is when a child from the very beginning has a parent and a friend in the same person then that really helps a lot..listen to your kids,you might not agree with them completely but they might be is like taking of my friend cannot decide what she wants to become as according to her father she cannot waste the money for doing some stupid course which according to him is of no use.she wants to be a Disco Jockey(DJ) but her father says she will be if the parents have such thinking i don't think so try and be friends with your kids and see the miracle.i have been very lucky to get such parents,a dad who is just a buddy,a mom who is a patient learn to trust your kids and learn to trust yourself and your upbringing..

Among Jamir said...

Thank you Mam for the good word, it is a good memorable reminder of my Bajoria days. I completely agree to the observation of your student hence, its like seeing my own self in the mirror. Thankx again for constantly motivating me to do better in life with such good words and i pray that i live up to your expectations. Got a jazz show in mumbai tomo. and got to leave at 9am, Ill crush off now...I wish you all the best in all that you do and I'am thankful as always to meet, learn and interact with a teacher like you.

Always your student,
with much love- Among

shobha said...

Hi ma'am,
in my schooldays this much of pressure by the parents or the obedience by the children was not seen. I think the present generation is Ramavathars. Dasaratha told Rama to goto forest and Ram duly followed it. Similarly this generation without knowing what they want or what is their potential, follow their parents. I doubt whether it is obedience or lack of ability to take the risk. As you told they want to escape the wrath of their parents for the time being.I feel that the parents always like to protect their children. Too much affection and care will never make a child a confident person.They should be allowed to grow like a tree in the forest but not like a stunted bonsai plant.

Archika said...

Thank you so much maam for including me in the post. I completely agree with you. It is certainly becoming a difficult decision for the students to make to either follow their dreams or fulfilling their parents wishes.

Anonymous said...

hii madam!! ur post is really interesting..all the "good" examples which u mentioned in ur post are from north n east means dat they must be following some other educational system where there is no much pressure on students which is totally different from our "hitech-city" style y cant we follow them n make our students free from dis peer pressure too!!

suguna said...

hi ma'm
its very pleasure to see our students
in good position...!!!is it not mam?
its nice to know about ur students as good examples!!
we hope that our students also understand the present situation and feel the joy of life....

Shanthi Palreddy said...

Hello to you – This was one of the most interesting posts and helped clear my thinking. I was just thinking about all this in the past 10 days and couldn’t believe it that I came here and saw an article about the issue. When I had come back to India I was horrified seeing the amount of learning that young kids are doing from their 7th class or so. It seemed ridiculous that they were studying for IIT from then. I made a promise to myself then that there was no way I was going to have my child do that and on that end tried to make sure that the school I choose for them gives them the opportunity to try out various things. I actually joined them in Silver Oaks from the coming year, but recently a couple of weeks ago I met my cousin’s child who studies in one of the Techno schools. She seemed infinitely happy in her school and claims that she gets bored at home. If she doesn’t study for 12 hours then she gets bored. I sat and read a few of their newsletters that she handed me over as I wanted to understand the kids better. There were some very interesting writings by kids in there and from then on I have been thinking am I doing a disservice to my child by not pushing them or preparing them for the competitive world. I still believed that I don’t want them to study or push themselves that hard but still the thought did creep in. Reading this article reinforces my earlier thinking that yes I don’t want them to study in a school that is just preparing them for an exam rather than life. Thanks for the article that clarified my thinking better on this. And yes, it’s incredibly sad to see kids nowadays spend almost 12-13 hours or maybe even more with their books and all for a few exams that they write 6-7 years later. I thought the studying for two years was itself too much. On a slightly different topic I was reading about emotional intelligence from the past 15 days and this is something that is said to be better taught at school level. What are your thoughts on that?

Seetha Murty said...

Hi shanti
good to know that parents are 'thinking' proactively about their children.
emotional intelligence is one of the major strength that we giv to teachers bfor handing over the class to them. every yr, bfor the session begins, we have a full day workshop on it from an experienced and established trainer ! moreover, all our culture and practices aim at developing an emotionally sound environment in the school ! only when the emotional dynamics are addressed, the child begins to respond to the environment around !, we are emotionally empowered !If u r intrstd, i can recommend u one of the workshops on emotional intelligence which is very awakening and intrstng !

Unknown said...

hello mam,
I don't know you personally, but my aunt who is a teacher in your school told me about your blog. So here i am!
Coming to the post. Not a single day of mine passes without discussing about this issue, be it with friends, relatives or parents.First of all its indeed exhilarating to know that a PRINCIPAL of a school(that too in Hyderabad!) has written this piece of work. Really mam we need more principals like you. I have myself faced this pressure.Living in a not-so-advanced town of BHILAI, i dreamed of entering the field of media and eventually be a filmmaker.I wanted to take up humanities as my subject in junior collage but believe it or not there is just 1 school in bhilai which provides an option of humanities( that too is in pathetic condition ). to add to this the constant discouragement from my relatives made me succumb to their pressure and i joined a coaching institute for IIT. but then in the middle of class-11th i realized that this is not i want to do. i cajoled, protested, and even threatened and got out of coaching. i used both information and technology and found out various good collages to pursue my dream. i started my blog to satisfy my creative thirst. now i have finally took admission in Christ university Bangalore and will be pursuing journalism. my relatives are still not happy, but i am!
i don't know why i told you my story. i just felt like doing that. i really hope from the bottom of my heart that more and more people( students parents and teachers ) get inspired by you and put and end to this RAT RACE !

P.S. - my fav lines of this post were..
1.An entrance exam is like a lottery and everyone buys the tickets.

2.All their career counseling is done by cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, colleagues of parents etc etc.,

3.Everybody believes that life is a race. But life is an experience to live.
and of course - the episode punch!

:) :)

with regards,

nisha said...

Hello Mam

I always believe that we should do any work with passion and choice.

Unknown said...

I want to point out one flaw in our culture.Our culture teaches us to respect our parents and elders.Any kind of reasoning a child tries to put to his parents is considered disrespect. The young brain is expected to gather all intelligence to be able to crack any exam but is not given the right to make a choice. The right to choose a career for a student still vests with the parents who feel they know what is right for their their child. I am not saying that parents should not be involved in the career choices of their child, they should but, the role of a parent should be towards developing the ability of a child to make right choices and building up their confidence by supporting them rather than treating them as puppets and making them dependent for every move. The other problem with parents in our country is they set very high expectations for their children and when the child fails to live up to that expectations all hell breaks loose. Parents need to lower down their expectations from their child and realize that not everyone has the capability of becoming Einstein.
I think you made a great point by giving examples of some students in the North East who thankfully did not have to go through such pressures as their friends in the other region do and are happy and successful with the choices they made. The myth that only doctors and engineers are considered successful people in the world needs to be broken and teachers like you can make a difference by telling students about people who have dared to be different and are happy and successful in life.

neela said...

I appreciate the way you have written about this topic. I always think about the sad state of thousands of students who start their IIT preparation from class VII ( irrespective of their aptitude, interest and capability merely due to parental pressure)getting up early in the morning travelling long distances and again continuing with their school home work till late night. The most surprising fact is that when parents are advised to shift their wards from CBSE syllabus to SSC syllabus due to various reasons, some parents are conveniently joining their children in techno schools which focus on IIT foundation and use syllabus from CBSE, ICSC,and SSC.
I strongly feel that it is the duty of our teacher community to educate the parents and young ones. I am able to sense through your post that the foundation is already laid to bring the change.

Anirudha said...

Dear Madam,

Thanks for the saints n students.

I believe learning never ends and knowledge acquired in any field doesnt go waste. True.

How many have tried to become a successful person after not joining the dreams their parents showed them?

The percentage is alarmingly high.

The parents are the one who know the depth of the knowledgebase, the extent to which a family can support the child, and the sheer needs of the family to survive.

Those are lucky who had the choice to choose. Many are forced to accept the job or education they get and help their families in the fight for existence.

All are not lucky like the mmcm in 3 idiots to meet rancho.

Ranchos may be there we need to look for them but not at the cost of family.

What one should realise is that may be today you are compromising and accepting the dream because it helps your parents and family to survive but dont stop to pursue the your own dream.
Excel in the current job and situation follow yourdreams regularly. The bamboo when planted grows roots underground for a very long time and one fine day the shoot comes out and shoots to touch the sky by growing inches and feet averyday.

Nurture your dreams an then excel in it. do not give up.

Winfrey, Sean conery, Shiv Khera, Anthony Robbins, Rjanikant and Dr. APJ are the burning examples that the early compromises in the life can not stop you from becoming succssful.

Three cheers for keeping the dreams alive and helping so many students to pursue them successfuly.

Alex Rover said...

i totally agree mam ..imean d word unique as goin out of evrybody's dictionary i made us realize dat we shuld not be in the rat race and take risks to take the road not taken..i promise u mam that i ll not be influenced or pressureized by anybody..and take my own decisions..

remya said...

hi ma'am, when i took himnities for mu plus two evry one tried to convince my parents to take up science. Thanks to my parents who always encouraged me to pursue my studies which i liked. Hope ur enlightening blog be an eyeopener and also make the people to intorspect themselves . Let todays generation grow with confidence rather than being a puppet.

Shanthi Palreddy said...

Hello to you again,
Its awesome to know that emotional intelligence is being thought of and that teachers in Silver Oaks go through a program in it. I would be very interested in the program that you mentioned on emotional intelligence. I believe i have your email address - can i email you so that you can send me the information?


PS: Prashant - I'm glad that you got to change over to what you wanted. Today the IIT exam results came out. I wonder how the various children are doing.

Shanthi Palreddy said...

A very interesting article on how IIT Jee exam takes a toll on students

Unknown said...

hello mam,
itz been long tym that i m in touch wid u through the i m bak agn!!
Mam wateva u jst xpressed is very true...
v say v r in the age of information none of us really do hav information abt things nor hav technology to explore abt the thngs...
i wish i wuld do as u neva the less hope to do so...even now..!!
goin in an unknown route to clear myself on my own...i swear u that i wuld bring new additions to our milestones...thngs r changed afta reading ur post...jst eagerly waiting fr my parentz to read ur post...
hope u carry on wid lot many issues lyk this...
ur ever loving student...,
b.kavya reddy.

Unknown said...

hi ma'am,
thanks for the this post it told us about some apspiring achievers who aspired us.They post was very encouraging.And the the phrase you gave in the end was funny but it is a mind changing phrase.
pls check my blog

Vamshi Krishna - said...

hello ma'm....
i candidly feel that you have put in all pure thoughts in the blog and i completely agrre to this.... ''an ode to all saints who renounced thinking'' is pointing out the unfabled happenings in this world of 'influential' people. i can feel this by my own observations and experiences in the school too! in today's world everyone has a very great circumference of friends and friendship but every 'friend' must understand that 'one tree can produce lakhs of matchsticks, but one matchstick can destroy lakhs of trees'. in life it is very vital to have a positive circle and not get influenced by any negative. i understood that one should germinate carving as a leader not a creeper. a true leader's courage to fulfill a vision comes from his passion, not position(in society).
another substantial point is that people should not have 'herd mentality' which is ruining their own caliber to take decisions. most of the times it is the 'pressure' from peers, neighbors, elders, etc that burdens a student and hence has to do that way(if he is not very strong and confident). the examples that you have caged are truly touching and inspiring. and of course one must 'never sprint the marathon'. each one should be self-supportive and autonomous and also they must be the decision-makers of their own safari. no two people see the same world. each new moment of life is a new experience to live life better!

yours truly
vamshi krishna