• Antara Basu


A pinch of sleep deprivation, a dash of anxiety, a splash of worthlessness all swirling in the gravy of stress and confusion served hot with biscuits of, I need marks and finally garnished with “I have no idea what I’m doing.” And welcome to, how to recognize a high school student 101, beginner lesson. And I can hear people say, “here we go again, another one of them.” The young generation complaining about everything that’s wrong in the world as if the world owes them. Whining about the education system when they’re privileged enough to even have access to education. Now if we consider this argument this is like saying that if you have access to water you should drink it despite its contamination because you’re privileged enough to have it, while we do nothing to ensure access to everyone. India is very proud of its education system, the IIT’s, IIM’s. And yet globally they aren’t ranked very high. A country that takes pride in a system that pressures its students, enough to kill them is, to say the least, screwing up the youth spectacularly.

Lesson 1: The rat race

Students today are more like pawns in the rat race of test scores, ranks, percentages, and GPA's. Competitiveness is ingrained deep and yet students struggle to get into institutes abroad, because they’ve never been encouraged to think for themselves, to solve or to create. All we ever learn is that not scoring marks means our life is destined to be a gigantic failure.

With a system that is fixated on exams and marks, there is no place for creativity, originality, or even opinions for that matter. It is a one-way trail hell-bent on manufacturing individuals devoid of individuality. Everybody thinks in black and white, for the grey is conditioned to disappear.

Lesson 2: Learning is fun

Today’s school system cares more about hemlines and hairstyles than it does about actual education. Learning to them isn’t about knowledge, it isn’t about the experience and it certainly isn’t about practicality. It is retention. Memorized theory that we spew over the exam sheets with the intent to score, not to learn. And then forget. Let’s substantiate with an example since we are so fond of them. In our psychology practical’s, we don’t perform the practical, No. we write about it, we write a theory paper about the practical which fetches us marks for a practical. Notice the irony.

I don’t know how to do my taxes, I am clueless about how to handle my finances but god forbid I don’t know Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, should be useful in job interviews. Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Frost they must turn in their graves every time their works, the great works of English literature are sealed with keywords, statements that deconstruct the depth of their words into, to be briefly explained, answers. And how can learning this way not be fun?

Lesson 3: Stress, the only constant

Oh yes, studying 8, 9 hours a day at school, then extracurriculars because all work and no extracurriculars doesn’t get you into good colleges, tuition's and coaching because IIT toh crack karna hai, personal study and not to mention the massive amounts of homework in multiple subjects which is basically just copying information printed in the textbook onto notebooks. I mean why waste paper and even print books if we are ultimately going to copy everything over again right. And we ask again what could we possibly be stressed about? After all, we’re young, still in school, the cocooned life sheltered from the brutalities of the world.

We measure worth by rank, less than 99% and so begins the process of taunts, comparisons, and feeling worthless. Even 99% is just a reminder of how you could score more if you studied instead of wasting time. A system that doesn’t give us the space to fail, to make mistakes and yet they hand out essay writing competitions on themes of “THE GREATEST GLORY IN LIVING LIES NOT IN NEVER FALLING BUT IN RISING EVERY TIME WE FALL” and as a student I see the so-called leaders of tomorrow, who can barely write an essay to express, to save their lives but everyone knows the formula for calculating the area of a circle. And then we have the renowned streams, which segregates students worse than Apartheid. Science for the witted, Arts for the mindless. Everybody is worried about exams but no one worries about what happens in the country. The rigidity of the system, I can’t take chemistry with political science. Why? Who says I can’t grasp Dysprosium and dictatorship together?

India’s system is so content with this way of education that it’s too fragile to even handle reforms. It is still puppeteered by the strings of an old age colonial system designed to harvest obedient automatons. But if we ever want to properly educate our youth to become creators who have a mind of their own it is crucial, we tear down this entire system and start right at the foundation built on encouraging students to question, to lead than to follow, to learn than to retain, to truly become capable leaders of tomorrow.