Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Are We Prepared For Our Children's Future?

Are We Prepared For Our Children’s Future?
What will the job scenario be like in 5 to 10 years time? With technology evolving at such a tremendous speed, and yet, is our education systems and curricula preparing our children for it? Or is it to fill up the jobs that support industrialisation. Does it allow our children to become or rather, remain creative? Is creativity not the driving force behind innovation?
I have a 15 year old daughter, who unlike myself is quite intelligent. She loves to read, write, draw, she is good at sports and, also in academics. Unfortunately, she finds the latter so boring, because some of her teachers are not creative enough to make it interesting. Like most parent, I am guilty of trying to encourage her to do well in her academics, so that she can go to a reputable university anywhere in the world, and become a professional. It’s a secure route. A good education is important for her security, so I tell myself!
But, then who am I to talk? I loved art, and was somewhat good at it, but I dropped the subject so that I could focus on the academic ones to be able to peruse law. This would make my family proud, I needed my mother’s validation. Still do! Yes, I worked really hard and became a lawyer. To me law was interesting only if I could help the disenfranchised   people in our society, pro bono. The minute I realised I had to pay rent , salaries, support the family, it meant taking cases like debt collection, conveyance jobs, sooo boring! I was not happy, and I began to withdraw from the clients, employing lawyers who eventually poached them and the firm spiraled down and I gave up. I have no idea what my real dream , even if I had one, I was too busy surviving to notice them I gave into depression and defeat.
Yet, here I am telling my daughter to follow the academics line! I mean unless you want to be a starving artist, or waitressing until you are discovered as an actor, then go for art, right? On the other hand I want her to be happy, doing what she wants to do, not what will please me. I have to allow her to follow her dreams. I’ve read so many books about people who followed their passion and became successful. Like Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. None are graduates. Does one have to be a billionaire anyway? A millionaire is just fine!
My daughter goes to this fairly progressive school in Goa, India. While they claim they area none competitive school, the teachers laud the bright students and basically ignore the not- so- bright ones. The children sit for the  Dehli Board exams, that seem to put so much focus on the science and Mathematics. The Social Science is based almost 95% on India and its greatness. The topics are boring. Art is allowed only once a week for half an hour. The art teacher has no clue about who the students are and how they perform. Yet the school encourages students to decorate their classed for Diwali, or Christmas. They expect students to show their artistic skills for projects, but there is no art lesson, as such.
What if my child wants to be an artist or a designer? Where is her foundation? What if she succeeds? Will the school say, “yeah! She’s a product of our school!” Or will India say “An Indian is awarded the highest honour for her artistic creativity!” When she is not an Indian and probably will have studied art abroad! When in fact, India does not put art, or dancing or drama in the same status as Math, Science or Linguistics!
There was a seminar for students and parents of the school. Only about 3% of us attended. It was about what type of career choices the students could make. There were like 5 people presenting the seminar, to less than 15 people in our group. The presenter asked the students what  they had dreamed of becoming when they were older. Apart from 2 students who wanted to pursue medicine and Engineering, all the rest, my daughter included, wanted to be singers, or actors or writers. The presenter had no clue what to do next! She expected everyone to say they would pursue Science or Engineering, which is the trend in India. So due to the lack of creativity, and the typical way of parroting facts, the presenters continued  with the Power Point presentation on why the children should pursue other careers, other than Science or Engineering! (By the way, they said being a paramedic is one of the highest paying jobs in India!) Really?  Then doctors should become paramedics!
 At least the positive thing was that they emphasised that if you do what you love, the money will follow. (unless you’re a serial killer, of course) I’ve been watching” Hannibal” ,and allowed him to get in my head!)
On the other hand, there are schools in Goa that focus on the art and the academics. My daughter had the misfortune of joining the wrong one. Having experienced 3 years of the Waldorf Education in Kenya, and 2 years mainstream, because I stopped practicing law and could not afford  Waldorf. We came to Goa and were elated to know that there was a Waldorf school here. While it was fun and relaxed, with so much creativity, there were no academics. 90% of the time her teacher was absent, and there was no substitution. My child went to school only to play for 2 years.  For a school that focused on art and creativity, my daughter’s artistic talents regressed.
My daughter is teaching herself how to draw, and she has improved by leaps and bounds on her own. And luckily, my daughter managed to catch up with the subjects when she joined the other school.

This topic is inspired by a book I am currently reading called “The Industries of the Future” by Alex Ross. In which he writes about how technology is advancing so much that robots will be used in the medical sectors, in fact in some developed countries they are already being used. How Big Data will be used for efficient and effective food production, how globalisation of trade will be implemented. Basically the world markets are evolving and if the young generation are not trained for it, they will be unqualified to get jobs and survive. Should all our Governments not keep that in mind? When will they plan for the future of their younger population and how to sustain them! How can it happen, when computer studies are not part of the examinable subjects of the Board in India i.e. it’s not a subject taken seriously, as with art and drama! Wake up! Be prepared! The end of an era is upon us!

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