The dreaded C word!


What is this C word? All parents have an extreme attachment to it. Kids are over dosing on it. And many are minting money off it. I am talking about Classes, of course! Classes, yes, the extra pillar (Unconstitutional I say!) of education that kids are enrolled into to master the Universe. It could be anything from tuition classes to activities classes to sports coaching classes. Fortunes are being made every day by the purveyors of these!

I asked a kid – 8 years of age – how many classes do you attend in a week? She adjusted her glasses, made space next to me to sit, took a deep breath and started counting off her fingers – mental math, grammar and writing, speech and drama, dance, tennis, swimming, basketball, GK, art. Whoa! I took a deep breath for her!! This is a kid who returns home from school at 4 pm every day, having spent more than 8 hours away from home.

Today’s kids don’t play. They go to cricket coaching and football coaching. They don’t role play (remember the ‘family scenes’ we used to enact as kids), they go to speech and drama class. The minute they show an interest in a game, they are shunted off to a class. When I was growing up in Delhi, we used to play all sports including hockey with friends, but there was no sight nor sound of a class. Somehow, it takes the fun out of things.

If a child emerges as a genius or extra interested in something – whatever it may be – it follows that he will get extra coaching for it. That’s a given. But why fill their evenings with so many classes? Kids today don’t seem to have time for unstructured play. Unstructured play truly builds a child’s character. This is the microcosm of the world they will occupy as adults. Here, they interact, bargain, bully or are bullied, cope or sulk and learn to deal with a variety of situations with their peers, which in many ways mimics the ‘refined’ adult society.

But worst of all are the tuition classes. I often threaten my 8 year old that he will be sent to one if he doesn’t study with me. He knows it’s an empty threat. In Mumbai it’s a given among the poorer sections to send their kids to tuitions after school. They have a reason – there is no one at home to teach the kids the requisite math and English. The proliferation of ‘English medium’ schools has ensured that their children can go to such schools which they couldn’t. But I was appalled when I came across well-educated parents sending their Kindergarten kids (oh yes, you read it right) for tuitions. Till I realised that this was more the norm, than the exception. Classes ki jai ho!

E. Vijayalakshmi Rajan is only sometimes a hassled parent. For the most part, she is the happy mother of an energetic and opinionated 8 year old.