Why To Apologize To Your Kid

Parenting involves tasks: planned/unplanned, routine/one-off, joyous/miserable, silly/mature. No task is lesser than the other or more important than the one up next. However, some of the tasks never get the attention they deserve from the parents. One such task: Apologize To Your Kid.

One might feel there is something wrong here. The child has to learn to apologize (this is an acceptable topic in parenting discussions). After all, the kids are always up to something that they should not be doing. The kids have every reason to apologize though they won’t. Saying sorry and owning up needs to be taught to kids and can be spoken about by parents.

But, a parent has to apologize! That too, to the child!! One’s own child!!!

Parents Make Mistakes, Too

The basic tenet: Humans make mistakes. When humans falter, they own up and express regret. Now, it so happens that parents are humans too. If humans can make mistakes, so can parents. If humans should/are expected to apologize, why not parents? Why would apologizing to one’s kid be a taboo subject?

The issue seems to be with popular culture. Somehow, somewhere, the thinking that has taken roots is that the parents do not make mistakes when it comes to their children. The parents have the best interests of their children in mind and actions, so whatever they do/don’t do has to be/is fine. The parents are next only to Gods, rather even more than Gods, for they are living Gods.

Well, parents, as mortals, can end up taking out their frustrations at their children for no fault of theirs. The child could make a tiny mistake, but end up hearing an earful because the parent had a bad day at the office.  Or even worse, the child did not do anything wrong but he/she was the only one the parent could take it out on.

The kid wants quality time and attention from the parents, but they are into their screen time. The child wants to voice/share his/her feelings/aspirations, the parents are busy with their rat-race/lives. Or, the parent is actually trying hard to do some good/worthwhile for the child, but the child has some other ideas.

At the best of times, even if the intention is right, the execution can go horribly wrong. And at times, even the so-called right intention gets misplaced/mistimed/misdirected. The parents can get it wrong – transactional/strategic/behavioural/plain bad luck. Who’s the adult in all these? Who has to own up? Why invoke notions of parents as holier-than-thou?

Doesn’t the child deserve an apology?

Change The Narrative

The social/professional life requires an adult to own up if he/she has goofed up. Yes, high and mighty, powerful and influential, gets away without owning up. Somehow, the parenting seems to mirror this real-life scenario. The child can be intimidated, is helpless to snap and vulnerable to be taken for a ride without a helmet. In short, no apologizing required by the parent.

Do we see examples of a public apology by parents to their children? Do we get to hear about private apology by parents to their children? Leave aside public/private apologies, have we known about our grandparents apologizing to our parents? Most importantly, have we ever been apologized to by our own parents? A resounding No. There is no precedence of a parent apologize to his/her kid.

Come on, he/she is just a child. The kid won’t even remember tomorrow what happened today. My parents did not apologize to me and I turned out fine. What’s the fuss? Well, the child has the full range of emotions and does have a strong memory than he/she gets credit for. Moreover, isn’t there that tiny reminiscence wherein you feel your parents could have done better?

In nutshell, the chequered past/misplaced notions cannot be the reason for junking an upright behaviour. If a certain aspect needs a change in thought and application, so be it. The logic that it has not been challenged till now so it’s fine, is outrightly flawed and makes us Neanderthal. Lack of sensitivity on parental apology to children is a sure-shot candidate for this distinction.

Apologize To Your Kid

Parents feel that they have every right to an apology from their children. They might as well learn to give one back – an honest regret.

Parents try hard to make their children decent human beings. They might as well accept that they too are humans enough to make a mistake when it comes to their children and raise a hand to it.

Parents want to teach owning up and saying sorry to their children. They might as well walk the talk by owning up and saying sorry themselves to their children.

It is a fundamental right of a child to receive an apology from the parent, as and when the parent – the human screws up. (Coming Next – How To Apologize To Your Kid).

What’s your say?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Childhood Obesity: Shame The Popular Culture, Not The Children

Being a child is a risky proposition. The kid doesn’t understand the hypocrisy of adulthood. One sure shot example of such societal double-standards is childhood obesity. Society looks down on obese children. And the same society promotes the food habits linked to childhood obesity in the popular culture. What’s the kid to understand and do?

It’s birthday/party/celebration/get-together/having a good time/feeling happy – What’s to be done? Have unhealthy food and sugary drinks and fried items and above all, chocolate. After having all these food on a varied basis, the child will gain weight and society will look down on the obese child. What’s the kid to understand and do?

Yes, childhood obesity is not linked to food alone. However, genetics is beyond one’s control. So, what remains within one’s realm of influence is food habits and lifestyle. Of these two, what can a child really influence? Practically, nothing. To make matters worse for the obese kid, there will be few children who will binge and not put on visible weight. What’s the kid to understand and do?

Let’s get it straight. No child wants to be obese by choice. Nobody has any business fat-shaming a child. If anybody has any business associated with childhood obesity, then that has to be with shaming the popular culture of having unhealthy sugary/salty/oily foods. This is what the kid will understand and can do.

The Popular Culture

Many things give nightmares to parents. For us, one of such things is the popular culture of having unhealthy food for any/all occasions. Fortunately, we do not have a television at home. But the messengers of junk food abound all-around – relatives/play-mates/hoardings/slick packaging of the unhealthy food products in the supermarket etc. There’s no way to hide from them.

We explain to our twin daughters: What’s good to eat and what’s not. They nod their heads. Then, they get invited to birthday parties. No prizes for guessing what’s on serve. The girls get confused. We tell them that it’s fine to have such food at times, and they do have it. That’s not the problem. The bigger issue is the assumption that one needs to eat sugary/salty/oily food to celebrate/feel happy.

Then come the relatives/friends from outside India. With all due respect to them, they assume that the best gift possible to native Indians is exotic chocolates. That’s it. I have been unable to tell them discreetly that a little chocolate now and then does hurt. I have been unable to ask them if they have not been able to find any healthy options abroad.

If nothing else, the visit to the nearby grocery store gives the finishing touches to whatever is left in corrupting the young minds. The shiny and glossy packaging will be omnipresent to entice the kids. What’s more – even the shopkeeper will try to hard sell to children, it’s his/her bread and butter. And, the child will think – yeah, that’s to be had/eaten to feel great about one’s self.

I sound like a killjoy for children, don’t I? But what’s spoilsport about it? What’s in this so-called popular culture that does any good to any children?

Shame The Popular Culture

It is time to call the bluff of the popular culture. It is time to call out the companies – be it MNCs or Indian on their predatory marketing for children. How can they keep attracting kids to consume food products that do no good to them or anybody else, including the environment? Though, to be honest, we are the ones perpetuating the popular culture and they are just providing the music.

Why cannot we have birthday parties without cakes and cold drinks and french fries? The marketing of tobacco/alcohol products is banned. How about banning the marketing of junk foods? The packaging of tobacco products shows the bodily harm done by those products. How about a similar packaging design for sugary/salty/oily foods? They don’t do any good to the body either.

The defunct Ministry of Women & Child Development can take out advertisements to inform children about unhealthy food habits and foods. The out of use CSR budget of corporate companies can run marketing campaigns highlighting the adverse effects of junk foods on children. The sportspersons can show during IPL matches – What the real secret to their energy is.

See, these suggestions have got nothing to do with consumerism. For people who want to promote consuming of unhealthy foods to children, let them do it. Simultaneously, they and if not them, the marketing and packaging of sugary/salty/oily food should inform children – What they are eating.

For once, let children see the pretences of adults about what they are making them eat to feel happy.

Childhood Obesity Will Only Get Worse

Among many losing battles, this one takes the cake, literally, even though celebrations can happen without the cake too. Who cares what children eat? How does it matter if parent’s lives become miserable explaining to children that others are taking the easy way out by offering them to eat, what’s easiest to offer and also, what’s unhealthiest to the body.

We as a society will keep making fun of obese children. And, at the same time, keep promoting unhealthy food habits, a prime cause for childhood obesity apart from genetics.

What’s more? We will also ensure that children go on to become hypocrites, just like us.

Popular Culture’s Mission Accomplished.

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Indian Education System Needs Hands-On Parental Involvement

Education is liberating. Education is doing justice to the immense potential one is born with and also the learnings throughout life. It is about contributing to society, making the world a better place and being human. You would say, we all know this. What’s new? Now, contrast this to the Indian Education System.

Indian Education System is rote. Indian Education System is getting marks and grades and cracking the entrance exams. It is joyless, devoid of real-life applications, sucks out creativity and curiosity, and more so, depriving childhood to children. You would say, we all know this. What’s new? That is precisely the point.

All of us know how important Education is to human life. And all of us also know how dissociated the Indian Education System is from the stated objectives of Education. All of us are aware of the obvious disconnect; yet, we are a willing part of the broken system.  You would say, National Education Policy (NEP) has come and the situation is changing/will change for the better.

Well, all the changes till now have been for the worse. Instead of one JEE, now we have two with NEET also thrown in. The Government is so much in awe of centralized entrance exams, the plan is to have them for all the courses. At the other end of the spectrum, formal schooling will start from 3 years onwards. The sooner the initiation into the rote, the better for the child seems to be the thinking.

What’s the change for the better in all these? Rather, the Indian Education System is getting deeper into the swamp with a further lethal focus on marks, grades, entrance exams, coaching classes. In short, it is a march to more of the same.

In such a scenario, who/what can lead to change?

Parental Involvement

Who has the highest stakes in the education of a child, apart from the child? The parents. Who is affected the most by the constructive/dysfunctional imparting of Education? The parents.  Who has the least say, rather no say in the running of the Indian Education System? The parents.

This is beyond belief. The parents who have the skin in the game are on the side-lines and have no role. Whereas, the people who benefit by perpetuating the rote without any genuine changes to the defunct system are running the show. What incentives do the administrators/establishment/Government, or for that matter even the academicians have to change the redundant system?

Let’s get this straight. Who got us into the problem isn’t going to get us out of it. For one, they do not know how to get out of it. Rather, they do not even perceive it as a problem. Second, the perverse incentives to continue with the rote trumps the desire for wanting/thinking a change to the Indian Education System, for it is the rote that gets them all the riches and enhances their power.

In a scenario like this, if a change has to be effected or even contemplated, it can/will happen only through parental involvement. Unless the parents get drawn into the affairs of the Indian Education System, the Education of their children won’t come through. The success in entrance exams, yes; but learning the purpose of Education and one’s living, NO.

Keeping Education Simple and Real-Life

If the parents get involved, the Indian Education System will respond that Education is a serious task.  Only a highly qualified/trained/experienced person, in short, one from within the system, can do justice to the Education of the child. Parents are non-qualified for the job and they are better off handing over the responsibilities of educating their children to the Indian Education System only.

Wait a moment. Are we talking about rocket science or nuclear physics or CABG surgery?  All these are highly specialized fields and requires years of training to make a meaningful impact. But, here we are talking about the Education of 3-year-olds, or maybe 7-year-olds, or for that matter even 15-year-olds. What is so Elon Musk-ish about it?

All of us have gone through the vigour of the Indian Education System. Yet, we are considered inept to comment/be a part of the same system that we so successfully sailed through! The system will educate the child, but once an adult, s/he is not welcome to the system anymore. What an irony?

Indian Education System uses the jargons to make it sound and feel complicated to scare away the outsiders. The Establishment makes the Education so complex, erect so many entry barriers – All to protect their turf. If the Education of 3/6/9/12/15 years old is really tortuous for a parent, who is an adult, to make head and tail out of and to intervene, does the poor child even have an iota of chance?

Why can’t Education be simple and real-life? The Indian Education System won’t let us see-through, for it will be known to all that Education is actually straightforward and possible without the confines of the classroom. Real Education, in fact, needs a giant and open classroom, also known as Life.

Education Is Important, Not The Indian Education System

Education is sacrosanct. But in India, we bestow this honour to the Indian Education System, and not the Education, per se. For us, the messenger has become sacred, and not the message. The message – Education is getting diluted by the day and the messenger – Indian Education System is getting hefty by the day at the expense of the message. An unrivalled Indan paradox.

For the sake of our children and their childhood, for the sake of a better and just society, and yes, for the sake of Education; it is time we reset the narrative and call the bluff. We, the parents, have to get involved hands-on in Indian Education System, now.

What are your views on this subject?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

School Bag Policy 2020: Weight Of School Bags Increases Further

I have written about how School Bag Policy 2020 is a casual and miserable attempt to help students. The policy is such a wretched document that just the primer and the notification took up an entire article. In fact, each sentence of the policy is such a gem in itself that even an epic cannot do justice to its marvellous and spectacular silliness and stupidity.

Anyhow, to keep the discussion short and save you the long-winded road to nowhere, let’s go directly to the recommendations in the School Bag Policy 2020 for the reduction in the weight of school bags.

Pass The Buck To Parents And Students

Sample some of the advice put forth in School Bag Policy 2020:

  • School Bag Awareness Programme needs to be held in the beginning of every academic session, wherein parents and students would get orientation on this issue.
  • Information about the heavy bag needs to be communicated to the parents of the child and the bag needs to be monitored for a week or two for ensuring that the child starts carrying a lighter bag.
  • Counseling sessions for students to bring lighter school bags. Parents are asked to monitor the weight of school bag.

Does the policy imply that it is a hobby of students to lug heavy school bags to schools? Does the policy assume that every parent wants their child to be a champion weight-lifter and hence deck them up with the hefty school bags? Or is there a hypothesis that each day children carry some kind of hidden treasure from their respective homes to unload into the schools?

Each parent of a school-going child and the child will vouch that they have no say in what’s to be carried to schools each day. The schools barrel them down with textbooks and reference books, notebooks and activity books, diaries and journals etc. What options do the parents and the children have apart from toeing the line, paying the bills and hauling the school bags?

Who needs to attend the School Bag Awareness Programme? The parents and the children or the flawed educational establishment? The schools themselves have stuffed the school bags and mandated them to be carried in full. What purpose does the information to the parents about the heavy bags serve? Who needs counseling here? The expert group who drew up the School Bag Policy 2020 is a sure-shot candidate, but the students???

Cloud Cuckoo Land

The reality as mentioned by the expert group is in stark reality to the flight of fantasy recommendations arrived at by the same fanciful group, in the same report.

The reality: In Classes I-II, the homework hours vary from 0 to 2 hours daily. Whereas, for Classes III onwards, it varies from 2 to 5 hours daily.

The recommendation: NO homework up to Class II and a maximum of two hours a week from Classes III-V.

The expert group knows that children are loaded with homework. Yet, it makes a pious announcement that there shall be no homework going ahead. Who is going to ensure the implementation of this cuckoo recommendation?

The reality: Though only 2 subjects are recommended for Class I-II, yet many schools offer other subjects. For Classes III-V, beyond NCF-2005 recommendations, there is a range of subjects which is offered by the schools.

The recommendation: As per the NCF-2005, schools shall offer two Languages and Mathematics in Classes I-II and two Languages, Mathematics and Environmental Studies in Classes III-V.

Nation Curriculum Framework 2005 exists since 2005. Yet, the schools do not follow it. What makes the expert group think that now suddenly the schools will consider it a gospel?

The reality: Schools prescribe more than one textbook for the same subject in secondary and higher secondary classes.

What? Leave aside school bags, why not penalize these schools for violating basic norms?

The expert group has unearthed all the above reality in their survey. And the expert group knows very well that the schools are a law unto themselves and there is no curbing their behaviour. Yet, it gives sermons to follow the laid-down directives that nobody has followed till now, not following as on date and not going to follow in future.

The Other Gems

  • The issues related to heavy school bag need to be included in the pre-service and in-service teacher education curriculum.
  • Designing of textbooks with less information and more space to experiential learning.
  • Students need to be taught on how to use ‘filing’ in an efficient and intelligent way.

Well, I am going to stop here. Hope you get the picture.

In nutshell, the National School Bag Policy 2020 is full of inanities and absurd recommendations.

Ministry of Education, CBSE, NCERT, Schools, Expert Group – are aware of what goes into the making of a heavy school bag. They, themselves, are part of the problem and they cannot be expected to arrive at a solution. With them at the helm of affairs and their beloved School Bag Policy 2020, the weight of school bags is only going to increase further.

The real solution is fair and simple – School Bag Free Education. I will write about it in the next article.

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

School Bag Policy 2020: A Casual And Miserable Attempt To Help Students

Ministry of Education, Government of India released School Bag Policy 2020 on 24th November 2020. One might think that now the load of the school children has been taken care of. The children and the parents can have a sigh of relief. Finally, the issue of “weight of school bags” has been resolved.

Wrong on all the counts. The so-called School Bag Policy 2020 has nothing, repeat nothing, to lessen the burden of school children. At best, it is a casual and miserable attempt to address a crucial issue and ends up doing a disservice to the future generations of the country.

Let’s go through what the School Bag Policy 2020 has to offer.

The Primer

School Bag Policy 2020 is an 83-page document. A policy expected to lighten the weight is itself bulky. You would suppose the Government policies are meant to be cumbersome. Else, what’s the proof of the long-winded deliberations made?

It has been drawn up by an expert group of 7 administrators and academicians. You would wonder why the parents and the primary stake-holders i.e. the children would not get to discuss and decide on an issue that affects them the most. Well, that is not how the know-all and decide-all Indian Government is known to function.

The policy has been made in reference to the judgment of Madras High Court dated 19.05.2018, a good two and a half years before the policy announcement date. The Expert Group members met four times from October to December 2018, so that the report could finally see the light of the day 2 years later. But, again you would know that the wheels of the Government move slowly.

The policy refers to Learning without Burden, Report of the Yash Pal Committee, (MHRD, 1993); The Children’s School Bag (Limitation on Weight) Bill, 2006; CBSE Circular No.07.2006 on Subject – Reducing the Bag Load on Children and 4 other documents of guidelines/measures/decisions on managing the weight of school bags.

You would wonder if such has been the history of our failed attempts to rein in the weight of school bags, how the latest one will succeed. Needless to say, the current one does not list earlier efforts as failures or mentions any learning from them. Anyway, the Government is not expected to be backward looking, so that should be fine.

The Notification

The order of the Under Secretary to the Govt. Of India notifying the School Bag Policy 2020 mentions that “the School Bag Policy would be suitably modified/revised”. This is beyond belief. I mean what can be more meaningless than this.

You are announcing a certain policy after so much huffing and puffing. And when you do it, you say in the same breath that it will be changed. Then, what’s the whole purpose of huffing and puffing? Why not publish the policy after “suitable modification/revision”? But, I suppose all these are trivial to the mighty Indian Government. Maybe, another expert group is already in the pipeline. Who knows?

The notification mentions “The compliance report in this regard may be shared with this Department”. That’s it. No mention of the format/frequency/scope/process/time-line of the compliance report. No mention, at all. You would suppose the compliance report is a top-secret hush-hush affair. The lesser mortals should not get to know how Government compliance happens.

You would think the notification will list the essence of the policy or the major recommendations of the policy. Again wrong. The notification tom-toms the NEP 2020 and nothing but the NEP 2020. From the phrasing of the notification, you would be forgiven to believe that it is for the promotion of NEP 2020 and not about some abstract notion of School Bag Policy 2020. Well, the Government has to multi-task, beyond the understanding of common citizens.

Meaning of School Bag

The expert group has elucidated the meaning of school bag as per the Collins English Dictionary and Cambridge English Dictionary “verbatim” for reference. You would just love these guys, wouldn’t you? I mean they take the weight of school bags so literally and exactly – the physical load. Unless for them, how would anyone know the meaning of the words “school bag”?

The expert group would not venture into the mental load of non-comprehension i.e. the curriculum load. To be fair to them, they have mentioned it once and I have picked the terminology from them. But that’s about it and no further. Maybe, it is another expert group’s weighing up – the mental load on the school children.

Casual And Miserable

Well, I did not take up the School Bag Policy 2020 for an enlightening on the insipid working of the Government of India. But, that’s what happened before I reached the main contents of the much-awaited but utterly indecisive and faltering policy. The Government’s approach is casual and miserable, to say the least.

Does anyone really expect a Government policy made with so much preponderance to help children in any manner possible? Spending a precious two and half years to come up with a wishy-washy policy not even worth the paper it will be printed upon is surely not an approach to deal with an essential issue of India’s future generations. India’s children deserve better.

Please read here, the recommendations of the School Bag Policy 2020 and how it will further increase the weight of school bags.

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Primary Education In Mother Tongue: A Disservice To Indian Children

There are lot many things that do a disservice to Indian children. One among the top contenders is the misplaced zeal of promoting primary education in mother tongue. It affects not just the childhood but remains a handicap throughout the life of the child – affecting him/her in every sphere.

Once in a while, the issue of primary education in mother tongue will crop up. Each time, everybody but for the parent will speak in the favour of the mother tongue. Now, it is the turn of the New Education Policy (NEP) to re-start this debate. No prize for a correct guess about what NEP is promoting – primary education in mother tongue.

The purpose of education in India

Education serves multiple objectives. Few start right at the top – to know one’s potential and all such in philosophical realms. We, in India, have a rather straight-forward transactional view of education – get a better job/to improve prospects of a white-collar life/do better than the parents. In short, crack JEE/NEET, excel in a rote fest.

Now, with this two-word purpose of education – JEE/NEET, how and where does primary education in mother tongue fits in? The Central Government has proposed that entrance tests will be held in regional languages. Great. But, after getting admission what language will the medicine/engineering students study in? The Central Government has proposed that IITs will start teaching in Hindi. Even greater.

Now, come the ultimate questions. Will Google recruit an IIT engineer that has studied only in Hindi? Will Ivy League universities abroad give additional marks to the students of the vernacular? Would medical fraternity worldwide (even an Indian pharmaceutical company for that matter) open up the flood gates of opportunities for a doctor who prescribes only in a local language?

The single word answer for all the above questions is NO. Well, when there is no opportunity, apart from applying for a Government job, on what basis is the Government or for that matter all the so-called subject experts promoting primary education in mother tongue.

Everyone including the Supreme Court will pass the order that mother tongue is the best medium to teach a child. The irony of the situation is that this order would have been passed in English and the children of all these education experts would be highly deficient in communicating in their respective mother tongues. A bunch of hypocrites.

Parents know better

Wouldn’t the parents know that their children will learn better in mother tongue? Intentionally, no parent would want to put their children in a disadvantageous position of learning in a foreign language. Nobody would want to dole inferior treatment to their mother tongue. Yet, every parent in India wants their children to study in English medium school. Why?

What do parents see all around them in society? Persons with English background cornering all the privileged and coveted positions, considered in better esteem, have a better chance to rise in economic and social hierarchy etc. Why would any parent not want a similar profile for their children?

So, what do parents do? Enrol the child ASAP in an English medium school, running away from the promised misery of the vernacular school. Why blame them? They are only trying to try their luck at the perverse incentives laid down by a dysfunctional society that looks down at people who studied in their mother tongue.

Yes, some exceptions have excelled and reached newer heights even by studying in the local language. But that is what they are – an exception. And, after reaching their top positions, no prizes for guessing what language will their children be studying in. Nobody would want to be an exception to the norm, but the norm.

The ship of primary education in mother tongue has sailed

If there was a time for promoting regional languages of India, it was right after 1947. The first decade of Independence, maybe the second decade, but after that with each passing year, it is becoming only an uphill task of promoting the vernacular. Now, it is impossible, if not next to impossible, to imbibe primary education in mother tongue.

The politicians screwed up India’s language policy after Independence. The Indian language experts aided them in the destruction of the local languages by being prude, self-absorbed, lacking innovation and refusing to change with times. What do you call “internet”, “computer”, “mobile” in any of the Indian languages? There lies the answer to why Indian parents choose English as the medium of instruction for their children.

It is better if we, as a country, admit our folly and let go of our notion that primary education in mother tongue is good for the child. It is surely good for the child, but for the adult that the child will grow into, it is a sure-shot recipe for disaster.

The constructive option would be to adapt and adopt Indian English as our own language. The sooner it happens, more useful for Indian children, more beneficial for India, more practical than continuing with this time-wasting pointless debate raised by an out-of-sync with the times’ NEP.

What would be your views on this subject?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Indian English Should Be Taught To Indian Children

‘English is a funny language’, this is an oft-repeated quote whenever my daughters study English with me. As a matter of fact, there is nothing funny about the language. It is just that the English language transcends logic and common sense when it comes to pronunciation, spellings, grammar and whatnot. This makes me propose that Indian English should be taught to Indian children.

I suppose all of us have learnt our English in schools. At that age, we would not have been able to ponder over the absurdities of what we are being taught by our English teachers. And, the teachers are in the profession of teaching what they are taught to teach. So, the saga of the Queen’s English keeps perpetuating, no matter how silly and ridiculous.

The Unscientific Language

How does one teach English to Indian children? LSRW is all hogwash. Except for an extremely tiny minority, children do not get to listen and speak English as their first step to learning this language. So, the phonetics makes an entry with alphabet identification, writing and reading, in that order. So far, so good. Now, slowly the eccentricities of the Queen’s English will start showing its tentacles.

The pronunciation of “C” will keep changing as per the whim and fancy. “G” will follow suit immediately. “I” and “E” are enough to drive a sane person crazy. “Y” and “O” decide to join the fun. Try teaching the spelling of “Two”, “To”, “Too” / “Four”, “For” scientifically to the child. How about “One” or “Eight” for that matter? We haven’t even reached the silent alphabets, homonyms, “Cough/Dough” etc.

You will say that English is not a 100% phonetic language. Everyone knows it. What’s the big deal? Well, it is not a big deal as an adult. Try telling it to children – Indian children. Our mother tongues i.e. Indian languages are all nearly 100% phonetic (most letters are consistently pronounced). Comparatively, English is only about 75% phonetic.

Why should Indian children be subjected to the strange and senseless way of learning a language in their growing years? Why cannot we make it simple and easy for Indian children to learn English by just following the phonetics? Speak and read as is written, and write as is spoken and read.

This is the big deal.

Adapt and Adopt Indian English

The educationists and prudes will scoff at the idea of any changes in Queen’s English. First and foremost, they will claim that there is no need to change. It will be termed as an un-wise and un-called for. It will be said that any change in English will be detrimental to the prospects of Indians, as we will end up being the only ones with the changed pronunciations, spellings, grammar etc.

Today, who would be the largest mass of people using English globally? We, Indians. If we are the biggest users, why cannot we make it to our liking and preferences? There is, at least, one more version of English doing the rounds – there is English (UK) and there is English (American). Why cannot we have English (Indian)?

We use every kind of Hinglish words while speaking. All sort of spellings and short forms are a part and parcel of our social media communications. But, when it comes to teaching to our children, we bow our heads to Queen’s English. Why should that be?

How many Indian children are going to read classical literature of the variety written by English-born writers? If Indian children go abroad for further education or work in call-centres, the only two instances wherein the Queen’s English might be required, they are more than capable of learning the different version.

The only issue to Indianizing English is that each region of India will claim to have its own pronunciation, spelling and grammar rules. To be honest, even this is fine. India is a diverse country and each region should have a say in what is taught to their children. The Indian educationists can put up a broad list of changes within which each region can pick and choose.

Focus On Indian Children

As an adult, we accept and live by the norms and the traditions that we are taught in our childhood. We do not question the practice and the routine assuming that this is how things happened in the past, take place in the present and will keep occurring in future. There is no need to suspect or mistrust the obvious. Our needless and foolish deference to British English falls in this category.

It is a hellish experience for Indian children to learn English in its current format. Simply put, it is stupid. Teaching Indian English will make the lives of our children easy and learning enjoyable. Plural of a ship is ships, but the plural of sheep is sheep. There is no fun in telling a child that English is a funny language.

The sooner we have Indian English, better for Indian children, better for India.

What would be your views on this subject?

Please do not start the primary education in mother tongue debate; it is even a bigger disservice to Indian children.

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.