DON’T LET EXPECTATIONS KILL CREATIVE PASSIONS
As written in earlier article, Central Board of Education has taken many revolutionary steps in the recent past, for the benefit of students, focusing on their holistic development. It has laid special importance on sports and extra-curricular activities, considering them as an integral part of school life. While the policy makers are experimenting to enable the students flourish in all spheres of life and make an informed decision based on their interests and forte; the ground reality portrays a totally different scenario. For most of the parents, school is a place to acquire specific subject based knowledge and a means for their kids to become capable and qualified for a lucrative and main stream job opportunity in future.
Aspiring “secure and prosperous” lives for their children, parents turn towards coaching centres. I have stressed upon this matter numerous times that as soon as a child reaches class XI, he is enrolled in a coaching centre, in many a cases even before. The coaching institute becomes the pivot around which the life of the child revolves for the last two crucial years of schooling. Unfortunately, some parents choose options like dummy school thereby curbing the nurturing, prolific and lively social interaction of a child to the minimum. The students are sent to coaching centres to cram the same concepts that they had covered in school to score better and crack so called highly acclaimed competitive exam. In this rat race, parents often forget and even become indifferent to what the child wants. The passions of the child whether it is dance, art, music or sports, become mere “hobbies” to be avoided or sacrificed for the sake of competition and better marks.
I believe that kids are little bundles of exemplary spirit and talent. They amaze me with their talents in varied fields, every day, showcasing their passion and skills on the stage, in the art room, dance room, music room, class room, play grounds or in the auditorium. The stage becomes their means of expression. Through dance, drama, recitation, debate and extempore etc. they express themselves on a profound level. The same quiet, shy, lost child struggling in mathematics or the naughty one who seems to lack focus during history class becomes a completely different personality on stage; confident, focused and passionate. Recently, the students left the audience enraptured with a soulful recitation of “dohas and kavyas” from the Bhakti Kaal, during Hindi Recitation Competition.
It’s disheartening to accept that the students performing exceptionally in the extracurricular activities are still labelled as average and mediocre if they cannot do that good academically. Their merit is judged on the basis of marks and academic performance and if they fail to perform up to the mark, the first thing the parents do is to discourage their extracurricular activity. The reason I am discussing this issue is because some recent incidents have shaken me up to the core as I felt quite helpless as a teacher and principal. A student of the school who is an epitome of discipline and brilliance was taken away from the school as the parents felt that their child is “wasting” time while practicing one of the performing arts subject and taking part in competitions related to it, while when the child is needed to prepare for class XII exams/ competitive exam. I have seen this child on stage, giving extraordinary performance and receiving accolades in academic areas too because of excellent performance in that area also. But the devil of coaching centre once again played dirty due to which the moment a little dip in the child’s academic performance was observed, the parents decided to make the child leave regular school for “self-study”, so that coaching centre is attended more regularly. The child was forced to sacrifice the passion of performing arts. Ironically, a child who was loved by all the teachers had to leave the school so that the child could attend coaching centre and get into some good college.
I remember how excited the child used to be whenever a dance competition was won. Even the parents felt elated at such moments, and these moments occurred quite often, I must emphasize. One could see the sense of pride and happiness on their faces. Every time the child performed on stage, there was divine look, in control of body and soul, confident and sublime. I wonder why the source of happiness of the child needed to be sacrificed for so called better do better future. All of a sudden the interest of the child and source of happiness and stress buster became a problem for the child and parent tagged it as a hindrance as it wasn’t considered a lucrative job option by them. Is it the sole purpose of school to help a child learn how to earn money through main stream options?
Another case which came to my knowledge is also equally important to be shared. The teachers noticed that another child of senior class remained quiet and indifferent to what was happening in the class. The parents were called and told about the same. As per the parents version the child had been like that from the childhood and now things have become serious because of the pressure of studies in the school and coaching centre. In this case the child’s nature was just opposite to the case discussed before. They also thought that it was better to let her attend coaching centre more regularly than the regular school. Both the children are the victim of circumstances and the ambitions of others.
I wondered that a quiet child was taken away from the friendly school environment and encouraged to continue in the mechanical and cut throat competitive and depressing environment of the coaching centre. Why couldn’t the parents understand that the child needed the company of friends and family and not that of a coaching class? Will the coaching centres ever be able to help the children deal with the pressure faced by them?
Here I need to ask few questions. Is it wrong on the part of some schools to encourage the children to take part in co-curricular and extracurricular activities? Are the schools used as dummy schools helping the children and the nation? There are schools which help children to be creative and pursue their passion. Many schools provide children the stage to explore self and be brave enough to dream beyond the set norms. Since ages the conflict between passions and expectations is on. Why can’t they be on one side? Why can’t the expectations of parents align with the passions of a dedicated child? Why can’t we realize that this conflict can and will kill a child’s uniqueness? As a result the child will become just another cog in the mechanical scheme of the world, detached from her/his passion and ultimately devoid of the spirit of being her/his self.
I can understand that parents might worry that if their child chooses a creative career path they will struggle to support themselves, and become the stereotypical “starving artist”. However, should the parents not worry if their child is not passionate about a conventional well-paying academic career and is still forced to pursue that? Won’t they end up feeling unhappy and unfulfilled in their work throughout their life?
“If your child is pursuing a more unconventional and creative career path, you can support them in following that dream too. Help them to find schools or courses where they can learn the skills they need to thrive in creative fields and encourage them to develop their art to its full potential. Help them to make connections with performing artists, painters, writers and other creative types that are actually making a living, so that they can learn from them. Stand up for your children when others say that their creative dreams are foolish and they will never make any money. With your support and their hard work and passion, your child can succeed and make their dream of a creative career a reality.”
`To conclude, I would just say this to the parents that we are here to guide our kids and bring them to the right path if they are distracted. But if they have their dreams sorted and know how to follow their heart with discipline and dedication; let’s just facilitate them. In such a case let’s just be “the wind beneath their wings” and avoid being the ones who “clip their wings”.