Education plays an important role in our life. It is the most powerful device to change the world. But, how this tool is being used in the present is a skeptical question.
The complete education system has become very monotonous making it the reason why India is still a developing nation. We are still trapped in a time where education is all about scoring marks than learning. People are ranked based on the stream of education they choose, the one with an MBA degree is considered a genius while the one with a diploma is ineptitude.
The nation is not short of people who are squirming impatiently in their office chairs trying hard to adapt to their roles leaving behind their passions. Malathy KR, CEO & Founder of Auuro educational services and a successful mother talks on how to shape a child’s career dreams.
What do you think about changing the traditional education system?
We have evolved into a student-centric world. Schools should be more than a simple concrete building. Students today are very inquisitive and when a student asks why he/she should learn a particular expression, they should be given an appropriate answering so as to where it would be used. They should be taught how learning something would redefine their 360-degree perspective. Also, the head of the institution makes the difference; they are responsible for how the whole world perceives the institution. Although a B.Ed degree adds a flavor, it is necessary that kids are surrounded by people who are passionate about learning.
When you ask a 10-year-old what’s her ambition her immediate response would be a teacher, the same 13-year-old might say journalist. What is the reason for such a transition?
This is a cumulative response. This depends on your immediate role model. The movies that they watch, the books they read everything influence them.
So, when does a child decide that this is what they want to do in their life?
Their real personalities start to set in at the age of 13, which is the time when a child decides what they need in their life. A student in 9th grade will at least have a rough idea of what she wants in her life. Some of them will know what stream they are interested in say science or commerce, but what they need to do after that is a big question. This is where career guidance comes in. A student must be exposed to different professionals. Starting from class 3, the schools must make sure that they interact with different people, right from a farmer to a hair stylist to a marine engineer. This will give them a vision. Today’s generation know what to expect, you just need to give them the clarity.
You keep differentiating the current generation, how different are they?
I will give you a real time example. In my school we follow career guidance in a passive way. We bring various professionals and let students interact with them. A few months back, there was this marine engineer and a 7 year boy was interrogating him. He asked the engineer about his profession for which he responded saying travel. Then he went about explaining his role to the boy. The next question was how much money he makes; he named a car and asked him if it was possible for him to buy that. Now, do you see the difference? They are exposed to their surroundings so much. Their wants are so much different from yours or mine.
Most students today move towards engineering because they themselves or their parents believe it is the best. Why?
It simply has become a status quotient. Engineering is far more than what colleges teach. It needs focus and passion, without which it just becomes nothing more than a humdrum text book. These students do not master the subject and once they graduate they find it difficult to get a job, the cryptic status quotient that they have built within does not allow them to settle down for a mediocre job.
Then, should parents not interfere in their child’s educational decision?
Yes. Likewise, this also needs a strong foundation. If you helicopter parent your child till they are 17 and tell them to choose their path when they turn 18, they obviously are going to be lost. You need to place the pros and corns in front of your child right from a very young age and let them make their decisions. Parents often confuse this to abandonment. They should be a support system but not a deciding machine.
There are students who love engineering and focus on it. But, in the end, it is IT that saves their day. What do you think?
It is a myth that the colleges have created. If a college has 5 streams they must make sure that each department is given equal chance. They pick the easy resort which is IT. How can a passionate mechanical engineer be satisfied just by writing codes?
What do you feel about moving away from comfort zone?
Expectations are always high, people these days do not want to move from their comfort zone. There are ample career opportunities out there in the real world waiting for you to unleash your ideas and perform. You start visualizing it only when you are ready to shoulder responsibilities. Today people are settling very easily and they are not willing to explore.
One last question! Are you happy with your job? Have you ever regretted your decision to become a teacher?
We live in an era where you first need to become an engineer to pursue your dreams. Each child has an unique individuality and a different thirst which needs to be quenched. Forcing your ambitions on your children for the first 21 years of their life will turn their next 45 years into chaos.
It is high time that parents stop forcing their ideologies on kids and let them decide what is good for them. The decision they take when they are 17 changes the entire course of their path. Don’t they deserve to take it?
“While studying, I never wanted to be a career person. My mom was a teacher and many a time we missed her so I thought I will be totally a mom for my kids. But after my children started going to school and that is when I realized how important it is to have a job. I was interested only in teaching. I was happy doing my job. There was never a monotonous moment. Each day is different. I like all my students whether they are studious or not.”, says a retired school teacher.
“My passion was to become a poet, I used to write poems and participate in competitions. My parents believed that I cannot make a living out of it, therefore I became a software engineer. Today, every time my boss assigns me a new task, it turns out to be a burden. I don’t know what I am even doing here. There is always a void feeling within me”, says a 23-year-old software engineer.
This now should speak for itself! Besides, what good does it do for an artist or a singer to become an engineer? The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows (Sydney J. Harris), not break them.
Malathy KR is an educator with over 2 decades of experience in teaching, mentoring, curriculum design, advising, setting up and managing schools across India and middle east. She has set up 14 international, 8 CBSE schools and 2 schools for children with special needs. She has been campaigning for the upliftment of rural schools and enhancing the standards in education for rural children across India through Teacher empowerment program.