Wednesday, December 31, 2008

HS FAQ: Competition

Your question: Everything you say is OK, but you know, the world today is a very competitive place. And children who go to school learn important skills to handle competition through regular examinations and games and many other school activities. By taking your children out of school aren’t you saving them from competition. Is this good?  

My answer: Let me first answer this with a perspective I read somewhere recently. The perspective was that it might be possible that we have got it the wrong way. It is not that the school prepares us for the competitive world but the world is a competitive place because of our schooling system. Or the school and the world are part of the same outdated system that needs urgent change. No, no, no, wait, wait, wait… Don’t throw things at me. Calm down bhai. Didn’t I tell you this was just something I read somewhere? Let me quickly tell you a nice story now to apologize for having got you so hassled. OK, the story goes… Long, long ago my daughter was learning how to play chess from a national level player. One day when I went to get her back from the class her master told me that he was organizing a chess competition and my daughter should also take part in it. A boy who was standing nearby replied that last years champion was his classmate and this year he would definitely defeat him. Now we have reached the climax scene of this story. If you want to go to the loo or drink water or get popcorn or something do it quickly and get back into your seats… …Haan so you are ready no? So here is the climax scene… No, no let me say that louder… Haan so, HERE IS THE CLIMAX SCENE… The national level chess player, hearing the tone the boy used, looked at him and said- ‘The real competition in chess is not against the opponent but against yourself. If you play against your own limitations, your own previous milestones, your game scales new heights.’ That evening my daughter and I discussed the wisdom of Masterji’s words and my daughter liked the idea very much. She has started applying this wisdom in other areas now and is in competition with herself in many new areas. And oh I almost forgot…They lived happily ever after… Understood no? Tell me why no one teaches this in any school? And also tell me how any good student of ‘competition’ from the school system, who then neatly fits into the competitive adult world, will ever in his or her life learn this wisdom?

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