‘Doctors’ we want our children to be, but ‘Patients’ they end up being!
Just imagine a land where thousands of doctors have set up their chambers every nook and corner of cities and villages! Not finding as many patients as expected they have started part time businesses with some already thinking of switching to other professions! Technological advancement stands still thank to crisis of technicians while locks hang in the doors of all educational institutions plagued by a dearth of qualified teachers. Society gets unsettled and unstable because of a lack of lawyers, journalists, bankers, physicist, and chemist and many more professionals to add to the list! In the meantime, government announces bounty on joining farming as nobody wants to be a farmer.
I am pretty sure, a good many of you have already started fussing about me! But the image I asked you to portray could well be a reality if the first choice of our typical South Asian mothers about their children's future- to be a doctor, came true. Oh, God! Thanks! Luckily it wasn't the case. When I think of people such as Martin Luther King, Elizabeth Taylor, Georgia O'Keefe, Ben Franklin, and Ghandi, it's hard for me to imagine them being anything other than who they were. What if they had all been told to be doctors?
You should, however, not think that I am venting out my frustration at our mothers for putting "to be doctor" on top of their priority list as far as their children's careers are concerned. What I am rather trying to figure out is, why push a child into a specific career direction? Why does a child born with incredible talent in playing guitar have to be an engineer? Why does one with outstanding drawing hand have to be a doctor? Why is someone having excellent business skill forced to be something other than a businessman? And most importantly, why do we forget that we should give our children the chances to find out what they are created to be?
If we cast a deep look at the success stories of famous people, the very first thing we get in common is that they were all allowed to make their own decisions and own mistakes. They all chose right career paths and their challenges were never compounded by any parental pressure. Albert Einstein was never pushed by his parents to be a physicist, nor was Abraham Lincoln to be prime minister of the USA. They all pursued a career they loved most and this was the recipe to their successes. Problem with our mothers doesn't end with only forcible choice of a career path for their children; an unhealthy rat race among the parents has more far-reaching effects that can cripple a child both mentally and physically.
In poet's words, children are delicate flowers grown in concrete gardens, but is it fair in any mean what we are doing with them? Their lives, already burdened with heavy weight school bags, lack of outdoor activities, unhygienic junk foods and obesity, are finally squeezed by guardians to be table-topper in the class. In doing so, what all they forget is that a particular class of a school can produce only one top out of all, no matter even if all the students of class are of Einstein's calibre.
Now the question is: are those, other than the top, useless? Yes, unfortunately they are! At least in the eyes of today's control freak parents! Their mania for their wards' academic excellence sometimes makes them overlook our main motto- to be a good human being. But the findings of some studies don't offer them much to be optimistic.
The Arizona State study finds obsession over grades and extracurricular activities for young schoolchildren could be counterproductive, especially if such ambitions come at the expense of social skills and kindness. When parents emphasize children's achievement much more than their compassion and decency during the formative years, they are sowing the seeds of stress and poorer well-being, seen as early as sixth grade," said Suniya Luthar, one of the co-authors of the study.
If we zoom in our own country, the picture we get looks grimmer than any time in the past. In our blind obsession with exam grades, unknowingly we push our children to a dark ominous path that sometimes leads to their own dooms. Recently in Bangladesh, suicidal tendency amongst the students, starting from teenager school-goers to grown-up university students, has been a real devil that is snatching away many young lives. Unable to deal with failure and defeats many meritorious minds are nipping in the buds.
According to the police's 2017 statistics, on average around 30 people commit suicide every day here in Bangladesh. Although the actual number is much higher due to many cases being unreported, a significant number of them take their own lives failing to cope up with the embarrassment and humiliations they receive from their families as well as society on not fulfilling their academic expectations. Can our parents evade the responsibility of such tragic ends of our young souls? Are they not indulging themselves in putting too much pressure on their offspring?
It is true enough that many parents, these days, are well-learnt as to parenting techniques and conscious of different parental aspects, but still fallacy about grades is deeply rooted in their hearts, making them totally obstinate in regard with their children's academic performance. Their obsession about class position , at times, reaches such a sickening level that they overlook the risks their children are exposed to on account of excessive pressure.
As the old notion goes, "today's children are the nation-builders of tomorrow", our tomorrow--if the trend is unchecked--is going to be dominated by higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and delinquent behaviours. While an ailing generation is awaiting us, a mass awareness campaign about the issue among the parents is of paramount importance. The later we do it, the graver peril we expose into.
Faisal Ahmed teaches English Language, ABC International School, Narayanganj