This week I got myself some “me” time and used it to catch up with Netflix. I watched the movie, Serious Men after being reminded that I had read the book, based on a novel of the same name by Manu Joseph.
The premise of the movie was how a man who was raised in a poor slum, craves for a respectable and high class life. In his pursuit to change the lifestyles for his future generations, he spins a web of lies risking his son.
Somewhere deep inside, the movie did hit a chord. Ever since I became a parent, I have not been able to resist the temptation of comparing my kid to those of others. I may not be the only one who aspires to see her child excel in life. In lieu of this aspiration, we as a parents end up giving them everything that can fasten their growth.
So when I came across the unavoidable advertisements on the internet and TV screens about emerging opportunities for kids aged from 6-14 to learn coding, the parent in me was delighted. I will sheepishly admit my selfish motive here. During my engineering, coding would often give me restless nights and days. I was friends with some of the brightest coders of the class and it took me a while to get a hang of this hard skill. Therefore my joy at such commercials with parents flaunting about buyers fighting for their kid’s coded projects was beyond usual ecstasy.
I sat down to explore the working mechanism of these classes, assuming my baby was still too small to get admission. It stated a rough structure of 50-150 classes with one on one interaction between the student and teacher. Buzzwords like chatbots, machine learning and space activities were eye catching to say the least. The package would amount to 1lakh with instant support from teachers and relation teams to deal with any uncertainty.
This is the biggest loophole of modern parenting. In the name of interactive and fun learning, they are selling us their business. While I am at the age of 30 making efforts to limit my screen time, here I am looking for ways to turn my child into a screen Zombie. Really!!
My brother is not a big fan of Indian parenting, for he believes it is overly protective and suffocating. His idea of parenting is based on his leisure reads and not so successful parenting he has witnessed around colleagues and their families. He reiterates letting go of the clutches. The idea behind letting the kid into not so common territories, is that a child in his developing years has the power to grasp most and can quickly learn any skill. He casually cites Taimur who is already learning Spanish at 4. I however will refrain because I am yet to throw my 2 year old in a pool and see for myself, if a baby is actually a natural swimmer as touted by everyone on the internet. This can be tricky!
I will however admit that this lockdown has been hard on parents. On one hand, there is the luxury of being around with your baby 24*7 and therefore make up on all the lost time, but at the same time it is about managing home and work with a baby/children by your side. The biggest challenge for most of us has been to keep our babies busy. The younger ones especially demand lot more attention. I think this attention at a tender age is what molds their minds. The growing years for a child have the most impact on their developing brains.
As a parent, we know what is best for our kids and comparing them with other kids will only restrict their personal growth journey. It is thus the responsibility of us parents to see the hidden picture behind such business models and make our own decisions.
The idea of childhood should be more about exploring and developing interests. It should be about giving our kids a blank canvas where they can paint anything and everything under the sun.
Coding is hard and it takes time and effort to get it right. A simple drag and drop from a panel for a small child is in no way generating curiosity. It is perhaps mentally pressurizing for the kid. In the long run, it is turning us parents over-ambitious by giving us never ending hopes.
The current scenario of education is no doubt unprecedented. Home schooling has become the new normal. The demand for academic guidance has risen and it is thus easier for various online edu-techs to come up with innovative business ideas. I have no personal grudges against them. I will agree if somebody tells me that a Byju’s class may be helpful to a class 9th student, or the teaching opportunities presented through Unacademy might be a boon to those who are home bound, or the technical courses at Udemy may be aiding in refreshing concepts for friends looking to enhance their resume or the Vedantu app could possibly be the go to query solver for many young students.
My only concern is obsessive parenting and falling prey to herd mentality without considering the aptitude of your child.
While I am at it, my husband comes to me with a news clip reporting DU cutoff is 100% this year, he casually slides in his parental concern, “Where do you think our kid will stand a chance?” My reply to him is simply this, “Our child will do well in life irrespective of her place in this usual mad race for success, as long as she knows what she wants and puts her 100% into it.”