The third issue of ParentEdge features an interesting cover story – raising children to straddle both Indian and global worlds. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this blog post. I just wanted to remark on what I observed when working on the article. Most of our effort in putting together this article was directed at interviewing a variety of people – educationists, principals of schools, teachers, parents, students, professionals – and those who have lived, studied or worked abroad as well as in India.
What we hoped to arrive at through this extensive research was a consensus on: a) what it means to be a global citizen, b) what it means to be Indian, c) where we need to strike a balance between the two, and d) what is the model of education that can support the growth of this kind of individual. I am not going to get into what we discovered – you can read the article to find out. What I am going to say is that I was very impressed with and pleasantly surprised at the interactions that I had with the students.
The ParentEdge team organised some group discussions with students of three schools in different cities. The purpose of the GD was to elicit their thoughts, views and opinions on the topic under discussion. I must start off by mentioning that I found today’s youth to be better read, better informed and more opinionated (in a positive way) than my friends and I were at their age! They were able to bring in references from different spheres to support the points they were making, they had a world view of different topics, without being constrained by their backgrounds and identities and they were passionate about issues that concerned their progress, success and future.
I went in expecting to find a bunch of students critical about all things Indian and wanting to see drastic changes in the way we impart education. After all, before speaking to them I had spoken to so many adults who said that the Indian education system was riddled with faults, needed to be completely revamped, that we should look to the West to set an example, etc. But these students actually appreciated the Indian system, mentioning that it gave them a strong foundation and excellent grounding in concepts like no Western way of education could!
A couple of students (I dare not call these mature youngsters kids!) spoke about the importance of hard work in a culture where no one is born with a sense of entitlement. Some even spoke about the role of rote learning in building a strong base for higher education. Of course, the perspectives were not one-sided. The GDs showed that the students were well aware of the faults in the Indian education system as well, but they believed that there was plenty of good that should be retained. Even when it came to Indian-ness itself, children today seem to be really rooted in and appreciative of their culture and identity.
I remember when I was their age, it was all about ‘aping the west’ and trying to be less Indian. But today’s students are so much more comfortable in their own brown skins that they can shrewdly revel in the best of India and imbibe what they need from the West to form an ideal combo that spells ‘global.’ Do be sure to pick up the third issue and read through the cover story – you will be amazed at the maturity of Indian youth today and their confidence to take on the world – on their own terms!
Also Read : Raising Global Indians