I remember my first day in nursery. All the kids around me were crying and screaming their heads off. They all wanted to go back home. Nobody understood why their parents left them there. Although I was a cheerful child, I remember wondering why I was there. Over the years I got various answers:- To learn and get an education that is recognized by society as legit, to get qualifications and gather better social skills for the future to get a job, to socialize and make friends/boyfriends/girlfriends, to have crushes and figure out ‘love’, to have something to do throughout the day etc. I also realized that not only did my school provide me with education, but it also got me out of my working parents’ hair and act as a child care center! College life is very different from school life but I continue to learn the simple values of life. School and college lives give us a sense of belonging to a community and brings together different communities. We get to know people from different backgrounds and contribute to the evolution and development of the human race! Also the law states that children up to a certain age have to mandatorily be sent to school or home-schooled. Therefore, we obey the law as well as exercise our Right to Education. But there are two lingering questions throughout our schooling- ‘why are we learning this?’ and ‘where would we ever apply it?’! There are a thousand futile things that we have to learn compulsorily so as to score well in our exams. But for the rest of our lives we unanimously ponder why we wasted our time learning some nugatory things when we could have spent it learning something really useful. I am not only talking about the various types of soil that we learn and the names of our ex-presidents. We also learn many ‘life lessons’ from our peers like looking beautiful is important, which is absolutely rubbish because we are all beautiful in our own ways and external beauty does not matter in real life. I have not come up with a list of things taught by teachers in our schools and colleges but also the things that we learn growing up with our classmates and friends. Here is a least of 10 things we learn in school and college that never really helps you:
#10: DATA REDUNDANCY!
When you go to buy vegetables at the grocery store, does the shopkeeper ask you to measure the volume of the tomatoes you just bought? Or when you go to the bookstore, does the shopkeeper ask you to find the width of one page based on the total width of the book? No! As an adult, what use do you have of the knowledge of prime numbers? I mean seriously, name one instance where you needed to use your knowledge of the prime numbers. And don’t even get me started on years wasted on perfecting the cursive writing. Have you seen the handwriting on a prescription? It’s definitely not cursive, and doctors do just fine without it being even legible! There are a million things we learnt all the way through our school years which made no sense to us later on. All the ‘shloka-s’, ‘doha-s’, ‘muhavra-s’, ‘paryaivachi-s’ that we squandered hours mugging up are of no use to us anymore.
#9: FALSE INFORMATION!
We learnt up till primary school that the sun rises from the east and sets in the west. When we came to middle school we learned that the sun does not rise or set, we revolve around the sun. Why did we have to learn some false information and waste our valuable brain space? There are so many other things like this. Also some things which were true back then are not true now. Like Pluto is not considered a planet anymore! Now what am I going to do with the planetary mnemonic “My Very Elegant Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets!”? Also we had previously learnt that there are only 5 animal kingdoms. But now there are 8. Why are we taught things which are still being researched upon to get a different conclusion? (sigh)
#8: AM I COOL ENOUGH FOR YOU?
From this point onwards, I will be starting with things which are not taught by the institute’s authorities, but which we as students pick up in school and college from friends, peers, teachers and rules. Starting with: Being cool! Have you seen the first scene of the movie ‘A Walk to Remember’? A guy nearly lost his life trying to be cool by jumping into a pond in a restricted area so he could be part of the coolest group in their school. Falling prey to peer pressure and doing things which are reckoned ‘cool’ by a group of popular hooligans in school and college happens to many people. Even in the American adaptation of the Japanese movie series ‘Ju-on’, renamed ‘The Grudge 2’, two schoolgirls challenge an exchange student to enter a haunted house in order to accept her into their group. And all of us our familiar with what happens to all of them. Although this is not something we are taught at school, we learn to try to be socially acceptable. Although being socially acceptable is not impractical, but at the impressionable age when we are in school, we tend not to know where to draw the line between what we should do to merge with society. And we also tend to forget that friends do not judge you by what you can or cannot do. They love you for who you are.
#7: BAD IS GOOD!
We as teenagers do not know our right from wrong. We all can think of atleast one thing that we did in our teenage years and now regret it. It is very rightly said that birds of a feather flock together. Awful habits like using tobacco, consuming alcohol and doing drugs are inculcated by our classmates with whom we spend most of our day within school and/or college. Teenagers crave for any kind of attention, even if it is negative. In order to become popular, they do not mind being infamous. Some children purposefully stop doing their homework so that they are counted amongst the notorious ones in class. Kids get tattoos, start having sex at a very early age, start bullying others and the list goes on. Some adolescents do it to defy someone or something because teenagers are generally rebellious. 13-19 years of age shapes our formatting years. If someone gets hooked onto a bad habit between this age group, it usually almost always turns into an addiction.
#6: USING SOCIAL NETWORKS IS LUCRATIVE!
I was in class 9th when I first heard of Facebook. I signed up immediately because all my friends told me to. From the advent of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, Instagram etc., most of our homework assignments have been posted online by teachers and classmates. But instead of only using such sites for their benefit, youngsters post everything they do or feel as their status. “Feeling happy, I shat today after 6 whole days of holding it in!” is a hilarious status that I actually read on Facebook! Students think that the whole world is interested to know everything about them, including their bowel movements. Grow up kids! No one wants to know anything including your opinion about everything. The generation when school kids would come out to play in the parks is gone! Students nowadays just sit in front of their computer screens and keep posting online about every little detail of their life. Because of the ‘check-ins’, ‘selfies’ and what-not, students are also prone to cyber stalking. Making someone jealous by being ‘In a relationship’ to posting half nude pictures of oneself are all considered normal on the ‘Social Network’. But as we grow mature, we realize that such sites are a great way to keep in touch with far off friends and relatives and share information with others, but it is not productive to waste our time with this.
#5: ATTENDANCE IS THE KEY TO SCORE HIGH!
I still do not get why there is an attendance criterion in schools and colleges. I mean, students pay the fees to attain education, but if the same student does not want to attend his/her class every day, why should he/she? A student is paying for education but does not want to sit in the class. What is so wrong with that? Max-to-max, the student is wasting his/her own money, right? Why do the school and college authorities need to bother about that? It is a myth that attending classes every single day guarantees high scores in exams. It is just a minor contributing factor to attaining marks. The major part is to understand the concepts and apply them in the papers without cramming them up before the exams. One can sit at home and study so well on his/her own that he/she might be able to score the highest in class. This is a ridiculous thing that we have to follow throughout our student life.
#4: HIGH GRADES ENSURE A GOOD JOB!
I know of many class toppers who do not pass in their dream job interviews. This is because their knowledge is entirely bookish. Students should be guided to develop their personality juxtapose the books and studies. The criterion to sit for the placement drive and appear for their various levels of tests is mostly an average of 70% and above marks in all semesters. Therefore, most students are eligible. A student who has acquired 70% may get the job while another with 90% may not. Procuring high scores does not ensure a brighter career. Overall personality is more important, which is formed by participating in co-curricular activities and having hobbies for recreation. Colleges which ban students from taking part in competitions or being a part of a society because they are pursuing a professional course, hamper the growth of students properly. Scoring high ensures a better job than someone who scored lower is a ludicrous notion.
#3: IT’S LIKE LOVE…!
Valentines’ Day is overhyped. Since our middle school days, we see boys and girls asking out each other and going out on dates or holding hands in class etc. Dating is the in-thing. As soon as kids hit puberty, having crushes on their classmates and friends is common. Although believing that dating anyone you are infatuated by is risible is immature. From the tender age of 13-14, kids nowadays get into relationships which take a toll on them. They get physically involved, emotionally too attached and they lose their focus from studies. Their minds start to wander away from the classroom to their lovers and they start to score lesser and lesser. But kids ignore all the ill effects of dating and are delusional due to the benefits of intimacy. This cycle of falling in love, falling out of love, breaking up, either making up with the same person or hooking up with another is endless. And that is because of the absurd belief during school and college time that being in a relationship makes you normal.
#2: PROFESSION OVER PASSION!
The rules of my dear, dear college state that all the societies of our college are advised to disband as no attendance, monetary support or any other kind of support will be provided. Being in a professional course, I know how important it is for a student to be truly interested in that field. But majority of the students in my college do not want to do engineering. They either drifted into the college by passing entrance exams or were forced into it by their parents. A friend of mine is an enchanting artist and wanted to get a degree of Bachelor in Arts. But instead, he ended up in my class because his parents feel that studying arts is ‘not studying’! And even while he is living upto his parents’ dreams by sacrificing his own, he is unable to enjoy the joy of drawing and painting because of the heavy study load and the absence of an arts society in college. We receive an erroneous message from our parents – doing something that they want us to do which will shape the rest of our lives is the correct course for us. Even if a student knows he/she will excel at something else entirely, he/she is forced to base his whole career on something he/she does not even want to understand. And this ideology is supported by most colleges. This is an unproductive thought of line because we should be able to do what we want to do, not what the society or even our parents deem right for us, as we will be living our life, not them.
#1: CHEERLEADER EFFECT!
Numero uno on the list of things we learn in school and college that never really help us is looking outwardly beautiful. Being slim, having a slender waist, having a flattering bosom and even more flattering buttocks are some of the things that girls desire to work towards instead of focusing on their career and growing upto be successful women. Girls start wearing make-up from the dawn of their teenage years and starve themselves to attain the (im)perfect bony body figure. Every girl wants to be a cheerleader, not a member of the band. This is because of the social conditioning in school and college that all that glitters is gold. Even boys at this age focus on going to the gym and getting six packs to impress girls. Amanda Peet, a Hollywood actress, once said,” Beauty is only skin deep. If you go after someone just because she’s beautiful but don’t have anything to talk about, it’s going to get boring fast. You want to look beyond the surface and see if you can have fun or if you have anything in common with this person.” Many girls who dress simply and do not apply make-up or boys who are not body builders feel worthless when they are judged by others on the basis looks because they prefer to be their natural selves. But these are the same people who will proudly accept their first wrinkle or first white hair because they love themselves for who they are, not what they can artificially look like. And the cheerleaders and jocks of our schools and colleges are the ones who will soon be unhappy with how old age treats them. What we should be taught in school is to love and respect ourselves the way we are and be comfortable in our own skin.