A colleague brings me a second-standard-child's homework. He is flummoxed. His child can't answer it because it seems too profound. Neither can he, though he is almost, not exactly, literate. He sees me as somebody erudite, which impression I maintain by looking distracted and being a bit weird at times. And he knows I write so I could possibly have the answers. But he doesn't know I write perverse and anarchic things, things that are never read (especially this blog). He shows me the homework teacher has given his six-year-old. Oh! I exclaim this is weird, as weird can get. I don't know the answers myself. I guess I will fail a second standard test of these days. The questions (verbatim):
- What is population?
- What are responsible for growth?
- Is this growth has positive effect and how?
(There are more questions along these lines, but I am ashamed to go any further.)
God! Imagine a six-year-old being asked such deeply, mentally-taxing, econo-socio-centric questions! I ask him: "Who is the teacher who has set these questions? I would like to meet him or her."
He senses my agitation and withdraws the paper, feeling contrite, as if he has really offended me.
I am confused, really am. I don't know what or who is at fault: the educational system, the poorly paid teachers, the abysmal anarchy of the questions, the overbearing dictatorial tone, the self-righteousness of it all. Apart from the language, lack of basic understanding of a child's intellectual powers, what boggles is the associations one makes with the teacher's mental state. Is that person an ogre who preys on the minds of small children? In this open letter to Kapil Sibal, I had raised some issues about the level of education in the country. Why are our children treated to such homework by such malicious teachers when they should actually be playing and enjoying themselves?
Or are we turning into a super-illiterate country, unable to grasp even the basics of language and primary education? I guess I should withdraw the request to Minister-ji it because it may have gone beyond the permissible remediable limit.