Then and now

Looks like I’ve missed a post or two here. Its been a busy week with work piled up to my neck. Both the kids had their annual day functions last weekend and more than a week was spend in preparations. From the uniforms to the dresses and practicing for the skits, the entire week flew by without my realizing it. But it was worth it, we all had fun especially the kids. They loved the attention and the break from the monotony of school life. They also enjoyed the events themselves, especially the younger one who had two dance skits for her school’s annual day function.

There wasn’t any of this when we were growing up. Back then school was for studying, period. We did have annual days but they were solemn somber affairs constituting of prize distributions for scholastic and athletic achievements. Most of the parents at the time, including my own, believed that there should be no distractions of any kind during the academic pursuits of their children. That ruled out any extracurricular activities. In those days the brightest kids became doctors, then came the engineers and then, if you were only a mediocre mind, you became a teacher. There were no other career as far as most parents were concerned. A government job was sought after more than any other and kids spent years preparing for qualifying exams for entry into government sectors.

These days there is a plethora of excellent career options so much so that getting that cushy government job for their kids is no longer a priority for most parents. And while we whine at our dilapidated education system, the fact is that it has come a long way from when we were kids. I do agree that we are still far behind the developed world but that is not just the fault of the education system, its more to do with our own perceptions and habits. The kids are generally far more smart now than what we were as kids. They are more confident, more informed and understand technology much better than their parents. We didn’t have a clue about careers when we were growing up. Today my three year old daughter is sure what she wants to be when she grows up. Of course, she does change her mind regularly but she is much more aware about her choices and her natural predispositions. We did what we were told. Either by our parents or by the teachers. Not so with the kids today. They know what they can and cannot do and make sure that they are working towards clearly defined goals.

Compared to other kids my age, I had very broad-minded parents when I was growing up. But even then, there were certain career options like music, drama, writing which were not favored by my parents. As long as sports were for staying fit they were considered acceptable but if the game interfered in any way with studies, the sporting link was severed off without remorse. And like I said, my parents were more open minded than most of my compatriots. I also remember that corporal punishment in schools was not only accepted but actively promoted to ensure proper development of discipline in children. There wasn’t any ill-will involved in this, it was just a fact of life. We took the mild pasting like everyone else. Its difficult to imagine this being true now but neither me nor any of my friends have any grudges or psychological trauma left from those times. Today if I even scold either of my children, both of them stop talking to me for days.

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