“I don’t want to go to school.” These are every child’s favorite words when they are in school. Now that I think about it, these words make sense.
I can imagine a place whose purpose was to make students adequate members of a rotten society, has played a profound role in causing immense hatred for the establishment among its students.
It reminds me of a Shahid Kapoor movie, “Paathshaala”, where the members of the school management were being greedy capitalists. They were finding ways to make money like Scrooge McDuck.
Of course, they were doing it at the expense of their students. The movie was not that good. However, what it does show is how terrible the schools have become in real life.
This time, I’ll be talking about my academic decline and its nexus with the other aspects of the modern schooling system in India.
I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that the education system in India is a joke. We have all seen multiple YouTube videos about it and read several articles on the same.
The list will go on and on, as the problems are endless. Even if the new National Educational Policy (NEP, 2020) is promising, it will take a while before it is implemented all over the country. Until then, we are stuck with our current system.
My grades started to decline in the 6th standard, especially in Math and Science. As if this wasn’t enough, I had to face severe bullying as well. It didn’t help matters. Instead, it rubbed salt in my wounds.
To help me cope up with my marks, I had to go to Math and Science coaching classes. Long story short, it is just three-odd hours of plain torture.
Think about it. You wake up at 5 am to get ready for school. It would take about 50 minutes and another 10 minutes was spent on the bus stand. Since my school is in the cantonment area, it takes about an hour to get there.
After reaching my school at 7 am, I spent about six hours in classes. Out of those six hours, you get 20 minutes of recess and 30 minutes of a PE (physical exercise) class, that happened only twice a week. We would disperse by 1 pm.
It would take an hour for the return journey to home, where I would get some shut-eye. After reaching home at 2 pm, I would get two hours (or less) of rest and recuperation. That too, was spent on lunch, changing clothes and getting ready for tuition.
Then, I would go to tuition at 3:30 pm even though I didn’t want to. I reach there at 4 pm. I would spend about two to three hours studying Math, Science or English. After returning home, I had no strength left. I couldn’t do anything at all, let alone study.
And still, I got an earful from my parents about how I don’t work hard enough. This, despite wasting eight to nine hours of my time in academics. I didn’t even have time to create new skills, engage in hobbies, or at the very least, study on my own.
How could they expect me to ace in every subject? I have mad respect for people who could do that, but it’s not for everyone. That was my schedule for five years, until I decided to do something about it (more on this later).
I had three Math tutors in five years. Behaviour-wise, none of them were good. They act like schmuks who think they’re better than others and intimidating, just because they can solve some sums. Sure, they were good teachers because their explanations are good. Unfortunately, they got put on a pedestal long enough.
My English tutor’s teaching was good. Its her behavior and her teaching which made me invested in English in the long run. And if I mean long run, I mean getting my writings published in The Times of India and Los Angeles Times (Yes, I flexed, sue me!).
My biology teacher was also friendly. He’s the reason why I’m so invested in biology. If the subject selection in India was diverse, I would have taken biology alongside history and political science. He teaches psychology, too and he was good at it.
The issue I faced back in school was my lack of interest in Science and Math. Of course, I wasn’t paying attention in class, but the above-mentioned hefty schedule and the toxic environment created around those subjects, played a profound role in my dejection due to those subjects.
In contrast, my cousins were faring better in academics (one of them winning a Math medal in the US). So, obviously, there was a constant comparison, which affected my morale and caused jealousy. And as Jeetu bhaiya (brother) once said, “Bhaisahab confidence gir jaata hai (brother, your confidence takes a hit).”
I have to admit, my self-esteem and self-confidence were at their lowest when I was in the 9th standard.
Things got so bad that I failed in Math for the first time, back in my first semester. And to make matters worse, I was a bad liar. I lied about my marks to my family so that I could save my skin. I lied that I passed but that I had to give a re-test.
When the truth came out eventually, my ma scolded the ever-loving hell out of me. I think I deserved it because it sure was a terrible lie. I learned an important lesson that day. Tell the truth, and the matter ends then and there.
Tell a lie, and things could get worse. Or don’t say anything at all, and the matter won’t be raised again (unless necessary). I also learned that I needed to do something about Math.
This happened in October 2013. October is supposed to be my favorite month, but in 2013, it ironically became my worst month. To be honest, 2013 was the worst year for my academics. The period between 2010-2012 was the worst, on a personal level, because of my bullying experience.
The final straw with Math happened in December 2013, when my Android tablet was confiscated because I flunked in the tuition test. My tuition teacher told my parents to return it to me after the Math test in school. I was pissed, but there was nothing I could’ve done.
Any time I touched my tablet, I got scolded. It was at this point that I finally had enough with this subject. I realised that I have wasted so much of my time and energy over a lost cause. I know I still have the 10th standard to deal with, but I just want to be done with this subject.
The same goes for Science too, because Physics and Chemistry were getting the better of me. Biology was the only subject I am good at, but that’s it. My grades in Social Science were improving too, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Math or Science.
If you think it was childish to leave a subject because of a tablet then you are right. Vacations are only for namesake now. A time that was supposed to be spent with friends and family, is now spent on countless tuition and coaching classes.
My point is, the day my tablet was taken was during the winter break.
With all these hours spent on school and tuition, I needed some freedom from it. And with my table confiscated, that sense of freedom was lost. I began to wonder why I should compromise my freedom over lost causes.
After that incident, my priorities have completely changed. It changed from acing in Math and Science to just passing in them. It displays how much resentment I had for those subjects.
I also decided to get my act together and try to improve my grades in some of the other subjects, because these two subjects played a keen role in my grades deteriorating in other subjects
In the 10th standard, when I told my family I wanted to take Arts, some weren’t so keen on the idea. One relative told me that I’ll become garbage if I opt for Arts. As if I’m not garbage in Math and Science, I wanted to take the lesser evil.
Some would say I picked Arts to escape Math and Science. To that, I agree, but they should also understand why I wanted to escape in the first place. After my 10th board exams and one incident with my Math tutor, it finally convinced me that I wanted nothing to do with either of these subjects anymore.
After selecting Arts, I realised the stream wasn’t as easy as other people made it out to be. It only gets harder once you realise that they will be taking tests from the full syllabus. It was not like my previous classes, where they divided the syllabus for each semester.
I also found out the advantages of taking Arts—how they subjects are useful in both, law and civil service exams. Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
I had my bittersweet moments too. Like that one time when my psychology teacher made me give re-tests twice, for not scoring passing marks.
According to the CBSE (central board of secondary education), the passing percentage in each subject is 33%, but the geniuses in school decided to make it 40%. But given the five horrible years I had to deal with in school, the last two years were a relief.
My humanities tutor was also good at helping me with my studies. It was because of him, I was able to put faith in my studies again. This helped me in the long run because my academic performance improved drastically.
In the end, I was able to score 80% in my 12th standard board exams.
In a previous article I penned, I discussed how certain students are very entitled and aggressive. I remember this one time in the 8th standard, a senior snatched my glasses in the basketball court just because I giggled (and I made a little remark).
If I had my way, I would have snapped at him. But back then, I wasn’t emotionally ready to retaliate. It was humiliating for me.
Let’s talk about academics. Some of them were good at Math, but they will look down on you if you bother to form a conversation with them. The kids who wear scholar badges (you know the plastic-made badge which only the academic elites aka “above 90% waale“ wear) are just god-tier Karens (at least some of them).
They believe that the world revolves around them just because they got a “scholar badge”. It’s like dealing with a Karen who demands to see the manager. Dude, just because you can solve a Math problem doesn’t mean you’re Ramanujan.
Do you even know Srinivasa Ramanjuan had to deal with:
You have done nothing of the sort. All you got is a freaking plastic badge. You’re just a privileged kid who has the resources to get where you are now.
And don’t even get me started on the sports guys. Look, I know these guys are talented. They spend years perfecting their moves in either football or basketball. I can respect their admiration towards their idols like Ronaldo, Messi, or Michael Jordan.
What I can’t respect is their hostile attitude. In a class of 40, some are very talented, while others are less talented. The rest, who are just piss-poor in sports, are weeded out. I was one of those piss-poor guys. I feel bad about having been ostracised, but there was nothing I could have done.
It’s not like I could start a war over a place in a team. Also, since they were sports savvy, they could destroy me in a matter of seconds.
I remember watching a scene in the movie “Whiplash”. In that scene, Andrew was arguing with his cousins, who were American footballers. He was pissed off about how his talents are valued so little in comparison to his cousins who achieved so little.
So, when his cousins asked him to play with them, Andrew roasts them by saying: “Four words you will never hear from the NFL.” Those words made me want to say: “You will never hear from Real Madrid or Boston Celtics.”
But it could have also just escalated into “the great school war”.
Sometimes, I feel like if they are so good at sports, why don’t they utilise their talents for the country at the Olympics? I mean Neeraj Chopra could do it. The Indian Hockey team could do it. PV Sindhu could do it. I mean, we have so much potential, and yet we achieve so little.
Their parents are responsible for this because they think that sports serve as a hindrance to the child’s academics. I believe the quote, ‘Parhogay likhogay, banogay nawab… Khelogay kudogay, banogay kharab’ (study and you will have a bright future, play and you will have a dismal one) is completely bogus.
Given the pathetic condition of the Indian education system, sports seem to be an alternative option (and not just a hobby). And then they wonder, “why does my kid watches SO much TV?” or “why is India performing poorly at the Olympics?”
I know the infrastructure isn’t great, and the glorification of cricket has made it impossible to give recognition to people from other fields. I think that cricket itself is a sport that requires hardwork, but other sports deserve recognition too. So, if the aforementioned people could do it, why can’t you?
Instead of excessive flexing, why don’t you allow other people to play sports too? Maybe they could shine as well! The school believes in “being inclusive”. Maybe, the management and the students should practice what they preach.
Thankfully when I was in Arts, almost the entire class could play any sports because the class strength was 20-22.
We all know very well that most subjects taught in school are very impractical. The exceptions, however, are English and Hindi (and regional languages). But let me ask you something… How many of you learned English from school? Because I sure did not.
I’ve learnt it by watching movies, anime and playing video games. Sure, my English tutor helped me in this department, but that’s about it. And, if you’re learning English outside school and not by reading Shakespeare, then there’s a serious problem in our education system.
I remember having to write emails and resumes in my notebook, once. I find it hilarious now, because those are things that could be done only on our computers.
Hindi, on the other hand, is one of our national languages. We use it in both formal and informal occasions. Schools in India promote Hindi and other regional languages (recognised by the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution).
But sometimes, they teach us outdated words that have no impact on society. Pakistani YouTuber Ducky Bhai, expressed his disappointment on how learning Urdu became difficult and uninteresting because of learning words that have no place in the modern age.
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. I guess both India and Pakistan have common problems when it comes to our respective education systems.
Another aspect of education, which most people can agree with, is how out of touch and obsolete our education system has become. It’s funny because even the Indus valley civilisation was way ahead of its time, compared to our modern society. They just give you information that has no implication in the real world.
But they won’t teach you about the following, how to:
I didn’t even know how to use an ATM, until I learned to do it with my sister’s help. I still don’t know anything about how the real world works. It is unfortunate that a place which was supposed to help me deal with it, has failed me. You have to find out yourselves, through the Internet and your friends as well as family.
The useless information that they teach you in school? It can be easily be accessed on the Internet. I believe that the Internet has made textbooks obsolete. In the digital age, we are still learning about things that existed back in the industrial revolution (even though it ended at the outbreak of World War I).
Yeah, it’s been more than four and a half years since I graduated from school, and the only time I ever voted was last year during state elections. I topped the subject of Political Science during my 12th standard boards exams.
YouTuber PapaOcus, explains that our education system never prioritised learning, but rather discipline and obedience. The latter existed in the time of the Napoleonic Wars. This means that our education is based on pre-war tactics. These traits were preferred by both, the British and Prussians.
It’s really funny that our schools preach democracy and peace, but their system is akin to military dictatorship. Even the student bodies are just composed of the principal’s lackeys. Every time I see a head-boy or a head-girl, the prefects, or the secretaries, all I see is constant surveillance on the students (Patriot Act much?).
I feel like I was watched by the Gestapo, the KGB, or the Cali cartel. I don’t even know if they ever ratted me out to the principal, due to their uniform/bag checking system. I get it: they are doing it for safety purposes or trying to create order.
But, at least make it more flexible. You just made it feel like a Chinese police state.
What’s even sadder about all of this is that our education system is just mass-producing robotic zombies, but not mass-producing jobs. The best minds are leaving the country, which is why Indians dominate American tech companies, be it Sundar Pichai or Satya Nadella (they head Google and Microsoft, respectively).
We now see an Indian-American woman as the vice president of USA. Kamala Harris’s works can be debated, but it’s still an achievement a person of Indian descent became the second most powerful person in the world.
The genius minds who live in India will have to face the crab mentality of society. Their main aim is to drag that person down to their level.
Another problem, I believe, is the division between the subject streams. I mean, people who opt for Commerce or Humanities are often looked down on, by society, because “it’s not Science” or “they’ve not scored well enough”. Well, I have seen students from the Science stream opting for BA subjects.
I assume that either their stream has become over-saturated, or they have flunked in their IIT/NEET exams. Taking things with a pinch of salt, I should conclude that insulting other streams will create a divide among the students. Every stream should be respected.
I know the times are changing right now and more people are opting for Arts, but I guess it will take a long time for people to fully accept Arts as a valid stream.
I always wonder, given the amount of money wasted on private colleges, coaching classes, and schools… If the same amount is spent on things we like, then maybe we could have helped the country, or at the very least, make money and enjoy what we like.
Our system is handing out degrees and killing our dreams with the same stone.
Remember when I solely held parents responsible for the condition of sports culture in our country? I take that back. They are partly responsible. The real perpetrator is the current system that fails to be flexible with the times.
Even if homeschools or Sudbury schools are promoted, it’s going to take a long time. Not everyone can afford to homeschool their children, and it’s highly unlikely that Sudbury school are going to be promoted.
Vocational schools could be a choice, so are alternative courses, but I don’t think parents would allow it.
This Nehruvian or Confusician mentality of hard work is failing. Hachiman Hikigaya once said, “Hard work betrays none but dreams betray many.” I know I’m contradicting myself, but I think sometimes hard work has its disadvantages as well.
Why do you think there’s been a rise in hikikomori (people who stay home for a long time) in Japan? Because, many Japanese youths are now disillusioned with the current society.
Like with Indian education, the Japanese education system puts great demands on the youth, only for them to face a massive disappointment with terrible jobs.
Their cram schools are the equivalent of the coaching system in India… Which means no free time. They even conduct entrance exams for the best kindergartens. It just shows that how, despite being so competitive, the Japanese society offers so little, because the job market has decreased significantly.
Bullying and social media have also played a major role in the rising numbers of people staying at homes for many years. And now, the hikikomori culture is starting to catch on in India.
Japan is a developed country. If a country like Japan is facing the aforementioned problem, then imagine what could happen in India. The situation is grave right now. In the Internet age, AI (artificial intelligence) and robots will replace traditional jobs. IT is becoming more prevalent than ever.
It’s only a matter of time before the government realises the severe flaws and loopholes in the education system. And it’s not about: “We have to deal with it until they fix the school and education system.”
It’s high time they and we, do it now, or else we will just be educated nincompoops.
The only thing we will be seeing in our schools is the real-life version of Gotham, like in the movie “Joker”.
Another point I would like to bring to your notice is that the board exam marks (even one’s degrees) are not going to matter in the long run, with the exceptions of:
Other than these areas, I don’t think they will matter.
In the long run, your skills and knowledge are going to matter. And, if you’re treated like a failure even though you didn’t fail in the board exams, just know that none of this will matter after one week. Things will eventually be normalised.
Outer happiness is only temporary, but inner happiness will stay for a long time. Blaming someone won’t help anything. It will only become an excuse to justify your mistakes. It’s best to accept your fate, move on and do what you do best!
Lastly, I don’t blame my family for my academic shortcomings. Sure, they were strict, but they meant well. I am partly to blame for the lack of interest I’ve shown in Math and Science. At the same time, I blame the education system as well.
The reason is that it created a toxic, unenthusiastic environment, that made me loathe those subjects. Well, loathing those subjects now will never benefit me. It can only make my mind toxic.
And with my college almost ending, I think I should move on and make the best out of bad situations. That’s all I have to say.