Pure Randomness!

Pure Randomness!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The class syndrome

Yohan's Xmas tree in the making
I usually sit there reading my book, how much ever long the flight is. It is not my cup of tea to chat with my co passenger, I am too introverted. But when I sat there and read a 7th grade text book in a flight and my co passenger made his curiosity obvious, I would not be the one to say no to a short chat either. So I explained to him what Teach For India is and what I was doing. I was just returning from my summer vacation and I was reading the text books I needed to teach the next academic year, so that I could prepare my long term plans for the year.
My co passenger found it all very interesting and was more curious to know what kind of kids I taught. So I gave him the profile of my kids. When he asked me why don't we provide them with vocational training rather than teaching them Math and English, I explained to him that there is nothing wrong with these kids' IQ or capabilities and given the right education they will come into the mainstream. That's when he shocked me by asking why do you want to bring them into the mainstream. Then he went on to explain that there is already a lack of opportunity, scarcity of jobs in the market. By bringing more people into the mainstream we are only making it more difficult to everyone. Now there will be more people fighting for the same jobs. If these kids learn Math and English they will not be interested in doing what their parents were doing and those jobs also need getting done.
I was fuming by then and still tried to reason with him telling that what we are doing is trying to create a level playing field, where no one is having an undue advantage just because he or she was born into an affluent family. If the people who are forced to do menial jobs disappear, then technology will have to take some part of their work. For the rest the dignity of labour and the wages will improve, so no one will feel bad about of doing them any more. 
He just wouldn't rest his case even when we were walking out of the flight. At the end of it he looked almost angry at me. I don't get angry with anyone very fast. But he had managed to tick me off. I asked him about his kids and he told me he has 2, one is 8 years old and the other 4. I told him that I am very sorry that his kids will have a tough time getting a job, as we are so damn bend up on making the kids of the rickshaw drivers and vegetable vendors also capable of being Engineers, Doctors and much more. I walked away wondering whether it was that same thought which made him feel so angry about what I was doing. 


  1. Hey!! I also agree with the Vocational part but that should be after 10 STD that too bcoz their family wont be able to afford high fees of Engg, Docs.

    I completely agree with providing the Level Field opportunity.

    1. Vinay,
      I do agree that vocational training need to be imparted later when the economies come to play. That just doesnt mean that when possible these kids shouldn't become Engineers or Doctors.

  2. A Level playing field.. a valid point. Though i think its much more than that.. let the child choose his/her future than letting the environment choose it for them. The world has proven time and again that the gap between knowing and doing is very vast. This guy must be knowing inside the truth...

    This article also reminded me of a priest who was sitting next to me in the plane from Paris to Bangalore (apparently coming from a mid US region). This was just after the tragic Tsunami and he is visiting India to help the poor. While i appreciate the efforts from him, what put me off is the reason that these people suffer since they didnt know about Jesus. All i could say then to him was "Jesus!!".

    1. Param,
      The child should choose his own future, but getting him educated will give him a few more options, ya it might also remove a few options.
      Just like your Jesus story, these all are different views. When I see something which dint go well with my view I wrote about it. If that guy I met in the flight has a blog, he might be writing about it too. Who knows :)

  3. Gosh...it's difficult to believe that folks in this era still hold such views...it is indeed a matter of providing a level playing ground ... providing each child with the same set of choices, irrespective of class and affluency. While I agree economics has a huge part to play as far as higher education is concerned, just being on a level playing ground with peers when the time comes to make a choice as far as higher education /vocation is concerned,can be a huge motivating factor for youngsters . It may surprise folks how young minds can figure out constructive ways to deal with the economics associated with higher education when they are motivated and confident enough to take on the world...

    Keep up the good work guys at TFI!!

    1. Priyanka,
      We should do what we can and then let the children figure out the rest. Believe me they are capable of doing that. Thanks.

  4. Its sick.
    Its sick and sad and highly irritating to find such people around us.
    I agree that the economy situation out there today is not really encouraging. The thought that someone else will be ready to battle it out to gain that coveted seat in the future along with their own kids would worry parents.
    But doing something like this will only widen the gap between the educated and the uneducated tomorrow.

    What a kid wants to do in the future is his/ prerogative.
    Providing each one with a base for that irrespective of their eco/caste/gender background should be ours.
    The concern over getting the menial jobs done is valid.
    But the same education today might help these very kids into developing some technology for the same.

    A platform like TFI will hopefully help in eradicating such discriminatory thoughts from the minds of the educated and enlighten them a bit.

    I loved your blog Subhadra..all the best with your work.
    I hope someday i can be a part of the wonderful TFI family.

    cheers :)

  5. I thought like you too and agree with you fully.

    But you must see schooling the world. You must. In case you meet Surya, take it from him. There is some truth in what the guy said, although his was a very selfish way of thinking.

    1. Fiona, I will watch it for sure. Let me figure out how to get it. Thanks

  6. Education is must. When the kids grow up, they will have their own preferences.

  7. This post really struck a chord.
    I am in Japan and don't know much about Teach for India, but it sounds like such an enlightened project. The student learn, not just about maths and English, but that they are entitled to have aspirations. I am sure the teachers also learn a lot from the kids to. I spent a year teaching at a Chinese university a long time ago. Many of the students came from very poor rural families. A number of them are now university professors, and heads of departments in high schools.

    Kudos to you, and much respect.