I recently visited two schools Braidhurst, St Columba near Glasgow and had an interactive session with the six year (class 12) students. I was drawing comparisons inadvertently and now that I have had time to deliberate upon them, I thought it was time to put pen on paper.
Students here would either join college or university or an advanced higher in school after they finish the sixth year, pretty much like us back home with the exception of the advanced higher. I was in a group of students and with their overly accented Scottish English (Alan pray don’t kill me for writing it this way!:)), the first question I was asked was when did I learn English, and then moving on to how did the Chinese study if they didn’t know English. I don’t know what the west does to its people, but isn’t it fair to comment that the people here due to a sundry of reasons forget that anything exits beyond them.
Moving on, the accents and the language dilemma had them totally clueless for sometime till they moved to things they knew, about themselves. From what they had done so far and what they wanted to do ahead, a zillion comments and remarks went zooming past.
And the things that struck me were that none of them baring a few wanted to be engineers or doctors, which is something practically everyone in my class in school wanted. People here wanted to study theology, art, music, drama, literature, business with psychology (that was my personal favourite) and noone was reeling under the enormity of pressure that comes along with entrance exams and IITs and PMTs and the atmosphere was so completely relaxed.
I spoke to my mom, whom I regard as a complete authority in matters related to schools and education (for justifiable reasons) and we discussed whether the whole system of having an entrance exam should be scrapped and what would be the pros and cons. Again, like always we had constructive suggestions to give, but implementing them seemed to bring with it a foray of new problems. Some time back when CBSE changed the primary system from marks to grades and no exams, I had seen the entire process, and strangely enough, even some students did not want to do away with exams. Have we become so used to pressure that we refuse to live without it?
Apart from the schools and studies as such, my first reaction when I came to Glasgow was that people here party too much and they don’t work. Well, considering the fact that shops close by 5:30pm and open at 10:00, this does seem like a fair enough allegation, but then now that I have a sort of complete picture of how they are from school through college I have begun to question my own thought process. I mean what is it that we want out of life? All the stress, pressure we subject ourselves to and we are subjected to by various factors, where does all that lead us? Am I not living eventually to enjoy? And, am I enjoying the pressure? Or have I in this whole process been churned to someone else who has forgotten what it is like to be relaxed? Has my whole definition of enjoyment gone haywire?