I always enjoyed being with the children and youth as these experiences always challenged me to push my own boundaries of enthusiasm, agility, fitness, ambition, dare-devilry, creativity… The last fortnight has been an exciting one in all these respects and learning has been immense, mostly reiteration of things known and heard before.
I was about to take off from my serious regular work schedule to pursue my other serious avocations – SPICMACAY and SRISTI/NIF – attending and contributing to annual SPICMACAY annual convention at Trivandrum and half-yearly engagement with the innovative citizens of this nation through Shodhyatra of SRISTI and NIF that was held this time at Dahod in Gujarat. As the challenge of the admission season at IWSB made me abort these ‘pilgrimages’, I was a little disappointed for, these important events on the calendar give me an opportunity to work with the brethren who are actively contributing in the spaces of culture, innovation and entrepreneurship that impacts our nation in a small yet sure way. But this disappointment was short lived, as the interactions with the youth more than compensated for my loss.
Assured or Confused at eighteen?
Class twelve results of various boards were declared across the country last fortnight. I happened to engage two sets of students from this lot during this fortnight – an assured set and a confused one.
In the first category, are those students for whom the board results are of little consequence. They along with their parents have been planning out their careers for the last couple of years and also executed their plans really well. Most of them got calls from IITs, National Law Schools, NIFTs etc.
The second category has significant numbers that do not have any clue what they really want to pursue in life. I experience that year after year, more and more parents getting really worried about what their ward would pursue after class twelve only after the board results arrive. Many of these children with excellent percentages (!!) in their board exam still fail to find a place in a course of their liking or the college of their choice. Why do they fail to? Have they woken up late? What a parent, a teacher or a school could have done to make their lives better? I shall talk about my sessions with the second category first.
On introspection, I recall my childhood when my parents did not ever show the anxiety of where I or my siblings would study ahead. I hardly remember parents visiting our schools. Were they indifferent? No, they were highly involved in a different way. Hailing from an economically humble family, yes, their motivational interactions with us had sprinklings of stories of inspiring personalities elevating us to think about pursuing a dream path. ‘Hardwork was the only way for a rewarding life ahead,’ that was clearly conveyed. ‘Do what you are passionate about and be passionate about whatever you do,’ was the message I got. My father’s words “Karmanye-vadhikaraste-maaphaleshu-kadhachana (The fruits that we pluck depend on the efforts we put in),’ still keeps ringing in my head. Never ever salaries and lifestyles were discussed. It was each individual’s aspirations and possible opportunities that lie in front of him or her that we passionately pursued. Believing in oneself has been the mool-mantra, followed by planning and uncompromising execution.
Somewhere along the line in the last two decades, marks have become be all and end all of education for most parents, teachers and schools, exceptions do exist. Parents and teachers take pride in boasting only about the child’s marks. Are marks directly related to the growing capability? Pursuit of learning and individual growth has taken a back seat. Awareness of self and then believing in the self which is the key to success is alien. I can see the inability of a child or a parent to face failure a direct result of this.
So, the last fortnight when I set out to interact with youth who are stepping out of their cocooned homes and schools and who are clueless about what is in store for them now, my main agenda was to make them see within, identify their capabilities, realize that each one has immense power to change their own future, that failures are temporary and are great sources for us to learn to succeed in life.
This mission took me from one classroom to another, one education centre to other, bringing me face to face with a couple of thousand youngsters. There were many eager learners, most of who were reluctant and recalcitrant to start with. The rebel at eighteen, he or she, wants to challenge. Friendliness, warmth, interactivity, sharing observations and learnings from personal life with glimpses into lives of a few fellow extraordinary human beings were real eye-openers for them. The focus was on ‘Believing in self and steadfastness in execution.’ By the end of every interaction I found many determined souls, including me (I get energy by experiencing the responses). Their responses have been amazing. I got to hear that no one has really spoken to them this language.
What is our role as mentors?
Is a class all about teaching a subject or just solving a problem? I am sure some of the aspirants inside a class too would definitely break their own barriers and create their own story, if each one of us as a mentor, constantly, in every session, help them think big, instill the belief in themselves and make them push their boundaries. I do not see this role to be any different even for a parent, in every interaction. This is what I learnt from my parents. We have such a wonderful youth with immense capabilities that can change the world, it is our responsibility to facilitate them realize their capabilities, in the process our own. Money, Comfortable life will definitely follow, as they are byproducts of our pursuit and accomplishment of the goal. If the passion continues, higher wants – POWER and FAME, too will be at their doors!!
The Assured Ones!
Talking of the pursuit of goals and accomplishment, I also had the opportunity of addressing this focused bunch in Mumbai on June 7th, on the occasion of the IITJEE achiever’s felicitation. The hall was full to the brim with IITJEE 09 toppers and their families, their seniors who are at IITs now, were there too to share their experiences inside IIT, and also IIT aspirants and their families who were there to hear and interact with the successful candidates.
It is heartening to see the bunch of 250+ succeeding at the JEE from the portals of Career Laucher / ARC this year. Their stories have been that of extraordinary perseverance by ordinary human beings. One who scored 58% in class 10 but getting a rank of 603 at JEE, those from government schools and central schools making it to the ranks, making their schools and principals very proud. A few of the principals were there in the audience to celebrate the success of their own wards.
The felicitation of achievers by their untiring mentors, the lively interaction between the achievers and aspirants and also brilliant performance on stage by a few aspirants with their guitars and vocals went on to show that, one can be good in more than one space if one really wants to. I really enjoyed addressing this august gathering, all charged up by the occasion and performances that preceded my address.
All in all it was an exciting fortnight of pushing boundaries. I shall narrate another such experience of this fortnight in the next issue.