By now, you would’ve seen the viral video shared by the cricketer, Virat Kohli, and many others – a video of a child being yelled at and slapped because she’s having trouble with numbers. If you haven’t seen it, that’s pretty much the crux of it. The child’s tears and screams of mercy have become a source of amusement for some. People find her reactions funny. I suppose the woman teaching her does too since she filmed this display of torture and put it up on social media.
Her parents, obviously, can’t stand the thought of having a less than perfect child. To achieve the goal of raising a topper, they’re willing to let the child suffer if she can’t do well in mathematics. Even though it isn’t mentioned in the video, you can estimate the age of the child with the kind of mathematics she’s trying to learn.
Fortunately, a number of adults, and parents, saw what was wrong with the video and called out those who didn’t see the child’s pain. But unfortunately, the same adults also recalled going through something similar in their childhood. We’ve all been slapped for bad marks; we’ve been so petrified of our parents’ reactions that we’ve hidden report cards and PTA meetings from them. Kids still do it. They still prefer to lie to their parents about their marks rather than talk to them, because they know that the truth will probably be bad for them.
The torture doesn’t stop with the overly ambitious and unrealistic parents though. Schools and teachers are no different. Instead of trying to understand a child’s problem, teachers still think it’s a great technique to punish a child and shame them in front of their peers if they don’t do well in a subject. I was always weak in mathematics, and in the sixth grade, I failed a unit test pretty miserably. But instead of asking me what the problem was, the teacher decided to make me stand in front of the whole class and announced my marks to a bunch of giggling kids who had been wrongly told that great marks mean a successful life. For all the parents who are going to disagree with me on that statement, please google Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They’re both dropouts. We can’t say they were unsuccessful, can we?
One would think that teachers and schools should be accountable for their behaviour towards children, especially the kind that is damaging in the long term. But they’re only encouraged by our school boards. One of the most popular boards in India – the CBSE – doesn’t think anything of laying down ridiculously hard question papers for the nightmarish board exams of Class 10 and 12, and then Delhi University – one of the most sought after universities in India – expects these kids to score nothing less than 100 percent. Anything less than that is considered the second tier.
So what’re the normal kids supposed to do? The ones who score in the 70s and 80s. They’re berated once again by parents, schools, and teachers.
“You didn’t study hard enough.
“How did your friends score so well in the same paper and you didn’t?”
“Solve the paper again in front of us and show us your mistakes.”
This may sound like torture to you now, as an adult, but it’s all routine in the life of an Indian child. From the time a child’s education starts, they’re not allowed to enjoy any aspect of it. Whatever they do enjoy is quickly deemed unnecessary and a waste of time. Hey, everyone should know what a long-dead king did hundreds of years ago, right? And of course, algebra is the key to life, isn’t it? We use it every single day as adults. No, we don’t. But we still need our kids to cram it into their brains.
Parents, it’s great if your child turns out to be a topper. However..
please remember that it’s not terrible if they’re less than average in their studies. Give them the opportunities they need to make it in life. What your child makes of those opportunities is up to them. Don’t raise scarred toppers, raise a person who can look back at their childhood with happy memories instead of slaps for not getting numbers right.