A video of a small girl aged somewhere between 3 to 4 became viral on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and various other social media platforms. The video which is almost a minute long shows the mother teaching the girl how to count.
The video opens showing the girl, with tears in her eyes and an expression of great fear as her mother shouts “Phir se padho!”. And the cute little girl, with her adorable voice reads one, two, three, four and…out of nowhere the mother suddenly screams, “One kahan hain!” The girl reacts as if she’s seen a ghost, lets out a sob and points towards it saying “Yeh raha!”
Now all of us, in our childhood have been in this spot where our moms have sat with us and made sure we studied for our exams and completed the homework on time. In the video too we get a feel that this is your everyday Indian mom. Who’s got ambitious dreams for her children and will go to great lengths to make sure they succeed in life. Guess this is why the video was shared so much in whatsapp family groups too. People could totally relate to it. Stuff like this, although not to a similar degree as in the video, happens in every typical Indian household.
And the mother is seen yelling at the child slapping her as the poor girl sobs and is clearly frustrated. If I had to put my money somewhere, it definitely wouldn’t be on betting this child growing up to love math. The video got a variety of responses. Most people found the girl adorable and found her expressions funny (which is why I’m guessing this video got shared so much) and on the other hand there were people outraged at the kind of behaviour the poor girl was being put through. This is what Virat kohli had to say on Instagram.
We all have to ask ourselves, what does behaviour like this do to children? When the act of studying can become such a horrifying experience. No wonder kids complain that they don’t like to study. At a deeper level, when kids are made to learn out of fear, what effect will it have on their self-esteem and confidence?
Now before you come back at me and complain that I’m taking things too far. Let me remind you that in the vast majority of schools and households, this is how kids are taught. The teacher with a stick in her hand and the mother ready to yell and slap as soon as the child makes a mistake. It is fear that teaches these kids, the fear of failing, the fear of making a mistake. In such an environment there is no room for self-experimentation, there is no opportunity and incentive for the kids to make their own ideas because from a young age they have been taught that there is only one right answer and the teacher has written it on the blackboard. No wonder we have so many graduates today unable to find jobs.
This must stop. We have to learn to teach our kids with love and develop in them a love for learning. They must be given a safe environment where failure is seen as feedback and not as a taboo. And yes, there are teachers and parents in this world who realise all this. But the only problem is, in our country at least, such people are very few in number. And if we don’t change things then who will?