My friend Alexa: Rant post 4 -Learning should be fun

A recent ad on TV shows a kid developing an app after learning coding and a bunch of investors starts fighting at his doorstep for funding his venture. The ad drew a lot of flak on social media for its insensitive content. While the idea of learning coding at an early age might not be a bad idea, luring people into unnecessary competitiveness and showcasing unrealistic dreams are both unacceptable. This ad reminded me of the multiple instances when I would coax my parents to buy a jar of Horlicks/viva/complain because I felt that the products would lead to my growing intelligence.

But the utopian world created by the advertisement industry is for another day. While growing up, I believed that my father’s favourite lines were ‘learning is fun.’ I didn’t realize how much those words took away the pressure to perform, to be a topper, or crack every competitive exam. I excelled at academics because I had a family who celebrated every small achievement with love. In turn, studies became a source of happiness for me. When people ask how difficult it is to get back to academics in the late thirties, I say it is fun. Probably, my best years of life comprise memories of my academic life.

It is only after my son started school last year that I learnt to appreciate my parents’ outlook towards learning and knowledge. As a mother, I don’t think I have that level of confidence and calmness. I still get rebuked by Baba if I ever use a parameter to compare my son’s performance with anyone else. Over the last few months, online classes have brought out the darker side of competitiveness in many parents. Irrespective of the age of the kids, parents fight to create a favourable impression for the child. Every time, I feel like joining the race, I remind myself that the race has only begun.

The issue lies in the education system of our country, where marks are given precedence over knowledge or applied skills. The parameters for success begins at high scores, getting into any prestigious institute and then seeking conventional career choices. None of this should be a problem if the child is happy and acquires skills relevant to his choice of career. But the number of students committing suicides is growing at an alarming rate and most of them crumble under the unnecessary expectations of parents and society.

I could have continued with the doctorate program at India’s top institute and become unhappier every day. Instead, I chose to quit and enter the corporate world. I didn’t need to explain my decision because my happiness meant the world to my parents. After MBA, I became a banker more by chance than by choice. When life gave me an option to take a sabbatical post-delivery, I reconnected with my love for written words and decided to make writing my profession. It wasn’t an easy choice either, but it makes me happy, and the same joy spills over to my personal and professional life. Going by the parameters that judge success, I am not sure where I can fit in. But, if I revisit my learning curve, it has only followed an upward slope.

And I hope I can raise my son with the same thought of enjoying the process of knowledge acquisition and learning how to apply practical ideas to theories. The reforms in the education system might still be a long route, but dismantling the parameters that separate success and failure on an individual level might be the first step towards a happier future for children.

“I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s My Friend Alexa 2020″ campaign.  This blog post is the fourth and last rant post for this season.

Durga Puja begins tomorrow onwards, and quite a few of us have consciously chosen to stay safe by staying indoors. I intend to take a virtual trip down the memory lane over the next four posts and post pictures from the puja celebrations of the last few years.

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Who am I? An erstwhile banker turned blogger/writer/author. Any qualifications? A Post-Graduate degree in Chemistry followed by a second Post-Graduate Diploma in Management. Currently, I am pursuing a one-year MFA in creative writing course from the Writer's Village University, U.S. Though I must admit that I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots. Have I done any real work? If two years in market research, six years in banking as a branch head two-and-a-half years in blogging and publishing a book can be considered as real work, then yes. Where do I live? After spending life like a nomad for sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Books, coffee, travel, food, and my four-and-a-half-year-old son. What is this blog about? Through Sonia's musings, I intend to explore writing in various genres, create social awareness, spread laughter and channelize emotions through words and pictures. Anything for readers? You can check out my book 'Deal of Death' on Amazon Kindle. If you like fast-paced thrillers, this Detective fiction introducing the woman sleuth, Raya Ray could turn out to be your perfect weekend read.

13 thoughts on “My friend Alexa: Rant post 4 -Learning should be fun”

  1. Couldn’t agree more, Sonia. Our super-competitive marks system, race for coaching classes, rote learning are all weakening our education system which has otherwise a rich content. We really need to ease off the ongoing pressure on children, robbing them off of actual knowledge enrichment, and depriving them of their childhood.
    Loved your write up!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well written. I can totally relate to your upbringing. My parents never put this sort of pressure on me, in fact they are the most chilled out parents ever when it came to studies. They always said, “become a good human, that’s more difficult than scoring marks”. Nowadays “good human” is a code word for losers I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Sonia, I am completely agreeing with your post. Over the years I understood that there is a clear difference between studying and learning. In schools we were studying things that we didn’t really care about or liked to study. But I started learning those things that actually interested me. While studying the importance was given to remember something and to reproduce it as close to the study material as one can and how to be top of that game while learning it was all about understanding how to apply a concept in a real-world situation and solving some problems. I agree that we need a change in our educational system that guides us to those things that we really enjoy doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ekdom sotti kotha! There seems to be a rat race for everything. Where will all this end? Coding classes are the new coaching classes for IIT/Medical entrance. People are looking for a way to exploit the fear that parents have that their child will be left out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel exactly the same way regarding this coding app ad…seriously as if the various online learning apps and ad agencies feel pandemic is the time to make children’s lives more productive…why? Even with the online classes, it’s tragic how many parents push their children to have the best impressions.
    Hope we could let children learn at their own pace and collect happy memories on the way.
    An amazing post and so relevant!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Today, parents are all in a race to make sure that their child is the best. As a teacher, I have come across so many parents who have enrolled their kids in so many extra classes. Imagine school+tuition+extra classes+studies. No wonder students hate learning. The joy of learning is all lost. Poor kids losing their childhood due to unnecessary pressure.

    Like

  7. Great post and thought provoking as usual. You are right it depends a lot on conditioning. The small kid wont know whether to enjoy studies or not, it is the atmosphere created by elders makes a difference. The parents without realising what they are doing end up putting kids under a lot of pressure. Sadly even the educated ones are still training their kids for rat race rather than making them understand the true value of education. Keep writing such wonderful pieces.

    #MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia

    Like

  8. Absolutely agree with you. There is no denying that the undue pressure to perform on the students has taken away all the fun from the very process of learning. The heavy load of bag pack along with piles & piles of homework only makes the students tiresome. The constant worry about the marks and even peer pressure is to be blamed. The post is very relevant in times where students are forced to glued to their smartphones for the sake of online education. I Hope , we as a society understand the perils well in advance!

    Like

  9. I agree with you, Sonia. It has become so competitive. DU cut off’s is proof of that. And as parents, we need to be very particular of not putting our kids under the pressure of marks. I am sceptical of the implementation of the NEP but it certainly looks on paper and I just hope we are able to bring the reforms in our education system.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, learning is surely fun but our education system hampers that fun. While graduating, I was so confused about what I was pursuing and often asked myself do I like this? But then you gradually set back your certificates and start something that’s close to my heart and fun to learn.

    Like

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