A few years ago on a hot afternoon, under a burning sun, I saw something which I will never forget, on Broadway (now known as Prakasam road), an old bullock cart overladen with sacks being pulled along by a single bull, straining against the load, eyes rolling in their sockets, mouth foaming, but still pushing gamely on. I remember the same scene whenever I happen to see kids in school uniforms gamely walking along laden with back packs which seem to be twice their body weight dragging them behind and causing them to stoop forward to balance the weight on their backs. I see the same look in the kids eyes that I saw that day on the bullock, a look of this is my lot in life and what can I do except accept it. There have be a dozen educational committees formed at the center and state levels to study the problems of overburdened kids and report after report have been produced (a lot of balderdash) on reducing the academic pressures on school kids, but the reality is different on the ground. Kids still are treated like beasts of burden and forced to go to school daily carrying a backpack which will challenge even seasoned mountaineers. And if that were the end of the story, I would stop right here.
To add to the kids trauma, parents nowadays are not only competing with their neighbors in acquisitions for the house, but also in the achievements of their kids. Every single parent wants their kids to be the next super singer, or junior master-chef or the next prabhu deva. Kids are not allowed a single moment of free time when they return from school, but are hurried on to painting class, music class, swimming class and foreign language class. Parents want their kids not only to be super smart at school work but also in all arts and accomplishments. The poor kids are not given a single minute of free time or a free day with even Sundays being jam packed with classes on extra-curricular activities. With all this being forced on to a child (who has often no interest in it), no wonder kids are rebelling and more and more kids are being seen by counselors nowadays for “disciplinary” problems.
The fact that a six or seven year old requires psychiatric counseling seems strange, but it’s a fact. Child counselors are mushrooming everywhere and to justify their existence they keep diagnosing kids with attention deficit disorder or hyperactive disease and prescribing strong drugs to dampen the kid’s natural energy and enthusiasm. Is it so unnatural for a child of six or seven to be bored by lessons and have its mind wander away? Kids have strong imaginations and most of them can easily move between reality and fantasy roles. Even adults do it often in computer games, for example in role playing first person fantasy games like assassins’ creed, or doom or prince of Persia. When something is boring like hell it’s a natural tendency of anyone to lose interest. It happens throughout life, in school, in college and at work. That’s not attention deficit disorder and it’s wrong to single out kids for that. And almost every normal kid has an unbounded enthusiasm and energy for life and we can’t label that as hyperactivity and start dosing them with drugs to make them artificially passive.
Parents and teachers are abandoning their traditional roles of taking responsibility for the children’s behavior and instead of guiding them along the right paths; they are shifting their responsibility onto child care counselors and obscure diseases and syndromes and over dosing the kids. At this rate, no one will be responsible for their own actions or decisions, for we will find a psychological reason for everything. Shift all blame to society and disease. I shudder to think of what kind of society we will be left with in the future if this continues. Maybe schoolroom shootings will become common here too- and we will blame it on a harsh word said by some teacher a decade ago, which caused so much mental trauma that the shooter had to kill a dozen kids after ten years just to ease his mind. I woulnt be surprised if this reason is soon trotted out too.
So what do you think? Am I crying wolf? Before it comes? Or am I talking through my hat?
(P.S. the idea for this post came from a conversation with my friend Vidya Dev who blogs there. Thanks Vidya)