Prepare your kid for life, not for an entrance exam

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Just for the heck of it, I searched online “What do Indian parents want?” Indians hold the top chart at 51% for wanting their kids to be successful in their career. And the lowest at wanting them to be happy i.e. at 49%, in comparison to the top country where 78% parents want their kids to be happy. 

Indian parents seem to be obsessed with success. They want their kids to have a perfect life as Sharmaji’s son in America. They have even cracked the formula to success. They know that an engineering or medical degree will bring happiness. They have come to the realization that clearing an entrance exam is a sure shot way to get happiness; plus a nice big home, a suitable match and a perfect life with no reason to complain.

They haven’t heard story of Sarvshreshta Gupta who had a successful life per their standards, yet didn’t like the life he was living, and had to solve his life’s problems with suicide. Nor have they heard of Kriti Tripathi who cleared IIT entrance exam successfully, yet jumped from the fifth storey of her hostel as she didn’t want to be an engineer and felt manipulated by her parents in choosing engineering as her career.

Indian parents choose to be conveniently unaware of the aftermaths of pushing kids to make their career in fields where their interests don’t lie. Their supreme focus is on making their kids’ career, not on helping them grow into individuals who are happy with their life. In the process of making their career, kids are made to run after external measures of success- marks, trophies, report cards, extracurriculars. A child grows up believing that he is worthwhile only if he accumulates these external rewards. Their self-worth takes a hit as soon as the marks on that report card go down. They are never taught to feel like an individual who is strong within and can go through the tough times in his life. Let me ask you.

Do you want your kid to develop into an engineer who feels so defeated by life’s challenges that suicide seems to be the only way out?

Or do you want your kid to grow into a self-assured individual who is positive in every aspect of his/her life and enjoys it?

Let me introduce you to Malvika Raj Joshi.

When Malvika was in class VII, she was taken out of school by her mom. She was home-schooled and never appeared for any formal exams affiliated to any board. She does not have a class X or XII certificate. When it was time to apply to colleges, she was rejected by IIT since she didn’t have a class XII certificate, but was accepted by prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

This is what her mother said when Malvika got into MIT (pay special attention to bold words):

“Malvika was doing well in school but somehow I felt that my children need to be happy.

Happiness is more important than conventional knowledge. I was working with an NGO that takes care of cancer patients. I would see students who are in the 8th or 9th standard being affected by cancer. It affected me deeply and I decided that my daughters need to be happy. My husband wasn’t convinced initially as it was a risky proposition. The kids won’t have a 10th or 12th standard certificate and there was bound to be anxiety. So, I quit my NGO job and designed an academic curriculum for Malvika. I created a simulation (classroom like situation) at home. Suddenly I saw that my daughter was so happy. She was learning more than ever –from the time she woke up to the time she was off to sleep. Knowledge became a passion. They (other parents) are all interested in knowing how to get into MIT. I just tell them that we never aimed for her admission in MIT. I tell parents to understand what their children like.”

Sourced from here.

And here is what 17-year old Malvika says,

“When I started un-schooling, I began exploring many different subjects. Programming was one of them. I found it interesting and would give it more time than to other subjects.”

Sourced from here.

This is a story of a kid who was raised in an environment not to pursue marks, but to be number one with her own measure. A kid who was directed by her own interests rather than external rewards of marks, trophies, report cards or extracurriculars. She never sat in an entrance exam, and in fact, was rejected by the Indian Institute of Technology. Better yet, she made it to one of the top five universities in the world.

This is how you prepare your kid for life, and not for an entrance exam.

1. By understanding the interests of your children

Don’t do this

Don’t do this

Do this

Do this

2. By acknowledging that learning has more weightage than marks

Don’t do this

Don’t do this

Do this

Do this

3. By making happiness important than the conventional knowledge

Don’t do this

Don’t do this

Do this

Do this

And that’s how you prepare your kid for life, not for an entrance exam.