Grooming geniuses: shunning mediocrity
A few years ago, we were walking as a part of shodh Yatra in Anantnag district, Jammu and Kashmir, when a young school student Farid asked us a question, which I think needs reflection by every educationist. He asked,” whey do I have to study and excel in all the subjects, When I actually like only two subjects?” Answer to this question will determine whether India produces geniuses in future or only majority of mediocre. It is natural that most people resonate with only a few subjects or disciplines of knowledge. If some body wants to advance much farther than the peers in a few subjects and remain just average or below average, our current educational system will rather close most doors for him. Actually when I was in higher secondary school, way back in 1968, I lost my first division with near distinction marks in maths and science but just pass marks in drawing and English. The future seemed very gloomy. My father went with me to one institution of admission, but I did not get there. He then almost abandoned me. He was rather upset and angry. He left me to be on my own to find a way through and go to Hisar and try my luck there. Rest is history. I some how could work hard and find my way through. But then system had rather marked me to backtrack from my aspirations. There are millions of students who are very creative, innovative or have a very good aptitude in a few subjects but are not good in English or some other subjects. Why should making a difference in life be contingent on being good in all subjects?.
When Dr APJ Abdul Kalam gives Ignite 09 awards on Monday afternoon at IIMA, he will remind us all about the larger than life goals, which should drive us in our lives. Several of the students whom we will meet then, might not be brilliant in all the academic subjects. Does it mean that Indian society will not let them become outstanding innovators or entrepreneurs? I hope not. We need patrons and mentors who will track the future growth of such children and help them fulfill their potential.
Anurag Rathor from Punjab realized that no two people walked alike. He thought why not convert gait of a person into a password of a cell phone. If I want to use your cell phone, it would not work without your authorization. Abhishek Bhagat from Bihar developed a food-making machine in which different ingredients will be dropped into a fry pan in the right proportion and in the pre set sequence to cook desired recipe. Pranshu goyal sent a very interesting idea that every time we get our phone card charged, a small amount would be deducted and deposited as a micro saving into a mutual fund or some such scheme to promote savings. You can meet them all on Monday.
We need millions of such ideas to make India different, diverse and get rid of the shackles of mediocrity. Will parents let children pursue their idiosyncrasies? Let us hope that happy occasion of Eid will let different cultures and children be empowered to excel in whichever field they wish.
Anil K Gupta