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Values & Education

Off-kilter Parenting

I saw an advertisement the other day, of children whose father has been unable to send them to school and they were playing by the street. Another man, presumably more successful than the father stops by and offers to drop them to school. On the way they are lost in admiration of the plush car they are riding and he tells them that if they went to school, they would get a plush car like him, otherwise they would be stuck with a dinky toy.

Off-kilter Parenting

It raised several red flags in my mind.

Is that all education is? A means to secure jobs?

Is it really that essential to earn mega-bucks? To what end? To buy swank cars, homes and be saddled with crippling loans with huge interests?

When will we realize that this entire cycle of

Study >>> Get job >>> Pay taxes + Get loans >>> Get bigger job >>> Get more loans etc. actually is a form of slavery. It benefits the system, not us. It kills the human spirit.

I am an old timer with grown up kids. I remember a time when homework was just an half hour job, which we finished in school breaks, liberally discussing it with fellow students. It was collaboration at its best. What we did not understand, (balancing equations comes to mind here) we asked older siblings and they smacked us on our heads and did it for us. Evenings were spent in playgrounds or wandering aimlessly with friends. I think we learnt much more from that, from just living.

True education in my opinion is actually making tinted glass to watch eclipses. It is planting a sapling and caring for it. It is lying on a grassy patch and watching the stars or the clouds floating by on the sky. It is chewing a blade of grass while plotting on how to escape punishment for a prank that one has played on an older sibling. It is also eating too much raw fruit from the tree and getting stomach cramps. Stuff that my childhood was made up of. It is also having a parent stand over your head when you puked the fruit out and tell you to remember the suffering so that you did not repeat this mistake.

No one told me that getting a good job would get me a swank car. I was told that education was meant to build character and make me a good citizen of the country. I was discouraged from learning my rote because libraries are repositories of knowledge and we were supposed to reference information from them. The mind was not a dumping yard, it was meant to think.

I wonder where we went wrong. We are doing our kids a great disservice. We are teaching them too much greed, too much money-based education, and not paying attention to character and conscience building.

Ritu Lalit is the author of two novels, A Bowlful of Butterflies published by Rupa & Co., and Hilawi published by Popular Prakashan. She is a single parent and blogs at