Sunday, June 01, 2008

32. Do holiday homework; keep smiling [if you can]

Smile has deserted my lips these days. I am struggling to finish homework. No, no, I have not joined any course under DOPT’s prescription for civil servants. It is the homework of my child that I am talking about. I am sure, many of you are similarly ‘enjoying’ your child’s summer vacation.

There was a time when summer vacations meant freedom from boring books, frowning teachers, rounds of punishment and compulsion to get up early. This was the time to visit relatives, go to hills, play unlimited hide and seek or simply laze around. Alas, all this is now gone. People think of summer vacations these days with a lot of trepidation.

Just before the vacation, the child brings home a small booklet, detailing what must be done during the vacations. It must be one of the most dreaded booklets
of our times. Often, it is so ambiguous that you need half the summer vacation to understand what is required to be done. Many of the topics are quite complex and have not been covered in the class. In true spirit of home-school partnership, it is left to parents to first understand these topics themselves and then make their children proficient in them. Some of the topics prove so stubborn that parents ultimately give up and seek out professional agencies which thankfully are not hard to discover.

Every school advises that professional help should not be sought for the homework, but at the end of the vacations, many of them give best grades only to the works done by professional agencies. If you see the holiday projects prepared by toddlers in schools, you will have visions of a very bright future for our country. The hand-writing is so neat, the drawings are so good and the products are so well presented that you will be ashamed of your own performance as a toddler.

Our schools claim to favour reduction of stress among children. This must be one of the biggest jokes of our time. Holiday homework is robbing children of whatever fun vacations would have brought them and is weighing them down with stress, unknown to us in our school days.

Summer vacations have become the periods of least socialization today. Over-burdened parents shudder at the thought of guests visiting them during this period. Parents along with their children furiously search internet for inputs and photographs. During this period, door-bells stop ringing, music systems fall silent and carom boards gather dust. For any outing or fun, one must wait for schools to reopen.

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