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The Parent Trap: Part 2

The Parent Trap: Part 2

March 01, 2013
An Indian kid’s schooling begins with his parents rigging his birth date so he can be admitted to school at the age of 3 instead of 4.

Middleclass people tend to look at education purely as an investment for future employment opportunities. Such a shallow view of education is the reason we are not a superpower even after 60 plus years of independence.

The goal of education is to rear the next generation as smart, outgoing, upwardly mobile Global Indians so that they are in a position to extract the maximum out of the emerging tiger economy of this future world superpower as it gears itself to reclaim its place among the great nations of earth.

Education starts with schooling and choosing the right school is very important for your child to get the right kind of foundation.

Schooling is a service provided by the Educational Services sector which comprises of specialized for-profit establishments (schools) where Educational Service Delivery professionals with requisite subject matter experience (teachers) deliver instruction and training to registered customers (students) in a wide variety of subjects so that they can get good marks and improve their chances of getting admission into a good college.

Lesson 1: Save the academic year

An Indian kid’s schooling begins with his parents rigging his birth date in the documents so that he can be admitted to school at the age of 3 instead of 4. This process is popularly known as “saving an academic year” or more modestly “not wasting an academic year”.

It is common knowledge by now that Global Indians study in International Schools that offer French as a third language. Securing admission in these schools can be a little tricky. By tricky I mean expensive but let that not deter you. Your neighbour’s kids are already going there and that is a good enough reason to be insecure.

These schools take only the “best” four year olds you see. Prepare well for your kid’s admission process because they are grilling parents with a battery of tests these days to make sure only kids with good enough parents are admitted.

Once the genetic and economic factors are ascertained, the four year old applicant has to clear the three stage interview process about his knowledge of the world, the first ten numbers and 26 alphabets. There are crèches that coach 3 year olds for these interviews. You may want to check those out.

If everything goes well, you can finish the rest of the formalities by paying the optional Infrastructure Development Fund. By “Infrastructure Development fund”, they mean donation and by optional they mean the opposite. Don’t worry, you can pay for it by availing an attractive monthly EMI* option.

Thanks to corporate pre-school education, these kids can learn all the 26 world class alphabets.

*Interest rates are subject to change

Lesson 2: The After school hours

When I was a kid, all of us middleclass kids would come back from school by four in the evening and play cricket in the ground for a good 3 hours till “poor light stopped play”. Other games like hide-and-seek, current-shock, tag or just standing in a circle and talking (while mosquitos sucked all the blood out of our legs) continued till dinner time.

Sometimes we would accompany our respective grandmothers to the temple. Temples were places where all the old women assembled once a week to review and compare their daughter-in-laws’ weekly performance indexes. We spent time by competitively breaking various rules of the temple and eating multiple servings of prasadam.

A lot of evenings were spent listening to grandmothers telling various stories from mythology and flocking around retired Central Govt. employees who narrated stories from strange lands like Uttar Pradesh or Assam where no one spoke Telugu!

Homework, if any, was something to be completed in half an hour after dinner. Sometimes we were too exhausted for homework and that was okay too. It was because of this careless attitude that I ended up with a paltry 87% in my board exams.

Had I spent a couple of hours extra in school every day in the evening instead of wasting time in the playground, I could have easily crossed the prestigious 90% mark. We live our childhood only once and I am never going to get the opportunity of being a 90% student again.

We should not let our children make the same mistakes we made. Eight hours of schooling for an eight year old is inadequate in this competitive age. As a double income family with serious corporate careers on the line, you need someone to take care of your kids until you are back from your respective workplaces. You deserve some “me” time after a hard day’s work too.

Kids cannot handle freedom properly. If you give them freedom, they will misuse it by wasting time watching TV, sitting at the computer or playing on the street with all kinds of people. It is not safe to play cricket on the street these days with so many cars parked on either side of the street. Who will pay if the ball hits the wind shield or a rear view mirror?

Besides, as a double income family with busy professional lives you need someone to take care of your kids in the evening until you return home late in the evening. Why waste money on babysitters and aayas when there are so many math teachers taking private tuitions?

Some good schools have identified this market demand and started conducting “special classes” and “study hours” after school. This would be more convenient for you as you can drop them at 8 in the morning and pick them up at 8 in the night on your way back home. The school will take care of the eating, studying, playing in the safety of its premises.

The best gift a parent can give to a child is preparing him for the real world. 8AM – 8PM corporate schools train kids to deal with 12 hour work days, without complaining too much which is an important life skill to survive in this competitive world.

I strongly recommend this arrangement because it gives you a little personal time to relax and unwind for an hour in the evening after office before having to deal with the stress of cooking, maids, unfinished homework and other household stuff.

Lesson 3: Summer Vacations are meant to develop skills

When I was in school, I used to wait for the summer vacations right from January and when they eventually came, I didn’t know what to do with them.

We just killed time by reading old Readers’ Digest issues, exchanging comic books, watching Cartoon Network, playing board games, making new friends, climbing trees, roaming about the fields, watching birds, spotting snakes and secret dips in the river.

Summers also meant visiting grandparents’ house in the village to spend a few weeks with cousins. We had our little duties like eating various delicious condiments prepared by our grandmother, accompanying grandfather to the pension office, guarding the drying mango pieces (for pickles) on the terrace from the birds and squirrels, accompanying uncles to the weekly village market and of course, watching movies.

My upper middleclass self looks back and is disgusted at the casual, directionless, unplanned spontaneous bursts of meaningless, aimless middleclass activities that kept me occupied all day. We wasted countless hours playing cricket on the streets with rubber balls bought by pooling loose change. What did we get from it? Not even a certificate of appreciation!

It is your duty as parents to plan summer vacations properly to ensure that they are active, engaged and at the same time learn something useful. This can be achieved this through the structured efficiency of summer camps. Summer camps which include music classes, dance training, swimming lessons, pottery workshops, German language tuition, Tennis practice, science projects, star gazing sessions, IIT-JEE foundation and Astronomy Olympiad coaching this ensuring all-round development of your kids.

These kids actually have a timetable for their summer holidays – Tuesday afternoons: Do-it-yourself Origami. Isn’t that awesome!

The best thing about summer camps is that they give certificates in a small convocation ceremony so that you can click some pictures and be proud of your offspring on Facebook. After all, what’s the point of fun without relevant ISO-9000 certification?

Finally, do not forget to send those pictures to the grandparents so that they can see “how fast the kids are growing up”


  • zafar
    19.04.13 10:37 AM
    Exactly spot on! In retrospect, I think those silly things that you talked about are the ones which built us and not the marks that we got- things that can't be learnt in a classroom like camaraderie, trustworthiness, creativity in thought, courage..
  • sourav roy
    sourav roy
    05.03.13 03:22 PM
    Brilliant! Dark and hilarious. I wonder what will become of the parents who will actually take your article like a guide without realizing the humour in it?
  • A Singh
    A Singh
    03.03.13 04:17 PM
    Jayanth, your view is shared by many. You might be interested in this piece on the BBC website

    Finland has one of the best education systems in the world using a model that many countries look to for inspiration. Children do not start school until the age of 7. Another interesting fact is that Finns spend the least number of hours in the classroom in the developed world.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    03.03.13 01:53 PM
    @Harry: I have had that sub-section in beating but I think it is big enough to be a post in itself... so wait for it :D

    @anon: I'll most probably have kids eventually and I don't have a plan for their childhood at all.

    @priyanka: When the idea of education is itself is reduced to a number on your report card, these things are expected.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    03.03.13 01:40 PM
    @Violet Twilight: My point was that these urban middle/upper middle class parents are basically buying into a fad that introduces a lot of structured activities that often happen in artificial settings very early into a kid's life. All I am advocating here is free time for kids where they are allowed to be bored and do silly things.
  • Violet in Twilight
    Violet in Twilight
    03.03.13 12:36 PM
    For those who loved their childhood, anything else looks like an unfortunate outcome.

    For those who suffered through lack of support for homework, summer holidays as forced detainment or rural chores (drawing water from a well as there is no running water, no toilets, no electricity etc while visiting grand parents is a tad less enjoyable duty than guarding drying mango), and threat hanging over "any girl over 15 ought to be married anyway", the description in the post appears heavenly.

    As if there aren't enough New-Yorkers lining up for pre-school applications, a shallow view of education is the only thing holding back India. Yeah.
  • Srikar Damaraju
    Srikar Damaraju
    03.03.13 10:09 AM
    Too awesome article. Reminded me of all those awesome "Middle Class" days. I pity today's kids "Competitive-Lifeless-EgoDriven" kids. Hahaha
  • Priyanka
    03.03.13 04:15 AM
    The sad part is....even with all the extra tutions and classes...u gain marks not education. The lessons which actually matter are not taught in classrooms. Things like how to survive in a recession, how to organise ure time efficiently so that you can manage work and recreation ,how to handle assholes or relatives who are assholes and how to aggresively persue a goal which is not getting that elusive 98% is not taught in schools. Indian students need to learn a lesson or two about the importance of fair play. The entire education system currently is only good for those kids who are experts mugging things and reproducing it on paper.
  • anon
    01.03.13 10:25 PM
    Would u hav kids? If yes, what is ur plan for their childhood?
  • Rajpriya
    01.03.13 10:11 PM
    A father, who beat a 16-year-old boy in a YouTube video, smashing his face until his teeth broke through, is facing years in jail. Gary Johnson of Palm Bay, Florida fainted moments after his verdict was read in court Friday, finding him guilty of battery, child abuse, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and disorderly conduct. Johnson, 35, faces up to 57 years in prison though he's expected by prosecutors and his defense to see 10
    01.03.13 09:22 PM
    @ Jayanth

    You forgot the most important sub section in all this, Beating, when they don't listen and do as they are told.

    I like no.2 better, but I can always add variation to others to make them to my liking. But yeh, I can live with this. Nice one. :)

  • Rajpriya
    01.03.13 03:39 PM
    „The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.“
    (Sydney J. Harris)

    When one looks into a mirror one sees his/herself and the little part of the world behind them. However, if one looks through a window he or she will be able to see a whole lot of the outside world.

    May be for generations the form of education the Indian parents received trapped their children andnforced them to believe in false values of life.

    My opinion is that the parents are the ones who need to get back to school. Learn to un-trap their children, to provide their children an environment to achieve the basis for better life. An educational system that would improve intelligence to make right decisions while growing up, without being dictated to by parents, is of prime importance.

    It has been established children and adults can develop in a healthy manner if their real needs, which give a healthy growing up and life in all areas are recognized, understood and met. Pediatric resaerch in Germany in latest pioneering neuro-biological discoveries have established, that the development of a modern society has ominous trends for the life of the adult to a large extent that starts from childhood.

    Every child should first have his or her own peace and the opportunity to become familiar: explore his/her own agility and always skillfully employ the possibilities of his/her own body and its senses, take advantage to learn time and space. Only then can a child find its equilibrium in the search for an external balance!

    A characteristic of childhood development is the need to independently explore and discover. The initiative and activity of the child should be followed carefully and respectfully that leads to a stimulating environment that corresponds to its level of development: playing is an intense and an intelligent form of child research.

    Adults should give children spaces in which they can play unhindered and unperturbed.

    The most essential condition is that a child moves independently and plays with joy that would give a feeling of security. Children acquire the ability to come to terms with their environment in a constructive and cooperative relationship in an atmosphere of respect, equalness, and worthiness of appreciation.
  • Clarence Forsythe
    Clarence Forsythe
    01.03.13 03:20 PM
    So am I. I can see his influence all over this article.
  • Shravan
    01.03.13 03:14 PM
    Astronomy olympiad hahaha
    Except for the secret dips in the river and scoring 87% (mine was anti chirst 66.6%)in board exams, I had a very similar childhood experience. Nostalgia!
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    01.03.13 03:08 PM
    @Clarence: Yes, HUGE!
  • Clarence Forsythe
    Clarence Forsythe
    01.03.13 01:49 PM
    Wow! You are a fan of George Carlin, aren't you?
  • Dr.B>S>Rawat
    01.03.13 07:30 AM

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