From a young age, we are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And kids give brilliant replies, like being an astronaut, a writer, a singer, a footballer…
In a 2013 TEDx talk, young Logan LaPlante gave a simple, lovely response. He said, “I want to be happy”.
But what is the prevailing theme, the underlying fact in all these answers? It is that “I want to get somewhere, I have a motive.”
We have been encouraged to do this; to look at the big picture, to decide fast where we want to go, who we want to become. But many people can’t have a motive. They are still looking. The world is a big place, and the things you can do are practically infinite.
How then, does one come to a decision at the age of 15, where you are forced to choose a stream like Science, Arts or Commerce? How can you even predict where you would be ‘happy’?
Dig deeper still, and you realize that the real problem lies in how we look at failure. It’s easy to forgive the education system after you are out of it. The bad things are pushed behind, the positives are glorified.
You passed through the filter of failure, but many others didn’t. Think about it. Was it really their fault?
How do we, as a society that promotes and glorifies education deal with the failures? We argue with them, we force our opinions onto them, and we motivate them and inspire them to do what we believe they should be doing. We expect our youth to be driven by strong motives, to be ready with a plan, to be safe and secure at all stages of their lives.
But what should we be really doing? I say we should be removing their fear of failure. Parents, teachers, students, the whole education ecosystem needs to be educated about the reality of failure. The system needs to account for it better by allowing students to set their own pace.
Why is it necessary to get a degree in 4 years? Why not 3 if you can, why not 5 if you cannot? Is it difficult to give them a choice?
A choice to allow them to have fewer subjects in one year so they can focus better.
A choice to take a different course if they cannot cope.
Why force them, mock them, scream at them, brand them as failures?
In reality, they are the ones who deserve our true respect for figuring out where their motives don’t lie and trying their best to experiment in a world that puts the successful on a pedestal.
In our race to battle mediocrity, we end up stringing the motiveless along with us, guiding them towards well-trodden paths, telling them it’s the right way to go. If we could imbibe the fact that some people cannot have motives, and support them on their journey to discover one, education could be a whole lot better.