Youth Festivals!! For or against our children??
A few weeks ago, the newspapers and the news channels across the state were flooded with colorful and vibrant news from the district school youth festival venue. The photographs truly reflected the high spirited, energetic, dynamic and undoubtedly extremely talented children unfurling their talents and passions on stage and off the stage craving to be recognized and appreciated for their skills. The pieces of news not only represented their talents but also years of sincere unbiased efforts and investment in time, money and energy by the children, their parents, teachers and the school management.
Though it makes me extremely happy to understand that our children are growing up with diverse talents and skills but some specific happenings during the recent youth festival which reported allegation against the authorities, nepotism and corruption being doubted in the judgements are truly disheartening. This leaves me puzzled in the maze of questions, Are we over emphasizing on this whole saga of youth festivals? What is it that we ultimately want out of these youth festivals? Do we want our children’s talents to be recognized or exhibited? Are we teaching our children what it means to have a healthy competition or are we teaching them to fight for victory no matter whichever ways they opt for? Corruption was only a word in our children’s dictionary, are we not giving them live examples of what it means to be a part of a corrupt system? Sportive spirit, accepting failure, appreciating others for their skills…Have all these terms become a part of history?
Unlike my other articles, in today’s article I would like to share some incidents, experiences and facts which might help you to think of a different perspective and realize & prioritize what is important for your children.
Youth festivals for tiny tots
I have always observed and was taken aback by the kindergarten children gracefully or rather painfully dancing on the tunes of folk songs with lot of expressions, actions, breaking bangles and more just to be the number one. The lyrics chosen by the best performer came as a shock to me as it narrated the experience of a young girl being brutally gang raped, and the child was dancing as taught without even knowing the meaning. This made the teacher in me question, isn’t learning and being able to comprehend, the major skills we want our children to acquire. By making them do all this, are we letting our children being children?
As a parent it was very difficult for me to pacify my six-year-old daughter who was totally shattered when her three months of practice to participate in one of the kindergarten youth festivals in the city went in vain. She was denied to participate because she was 10 days older to given age criteria which was never mentioned upfront by the authorities. As elders, we still find it difficult to cope up with the denial, imagine the plight of small hearts. I feel as parents, we have an important role in getting things fixed, competing to win and excel can always be understood but not at the cost of our values and emotions. As a parent, I would definitely be bold enough to take the initiative to not let my child a part of a system that is not driven by principles, For the sake of a prize I would definitely not want children’s talents to be judged by authorities who have no value for emotions.
Barack Obama’s farewell speech quoted three words from his first speech as the US President, “Yes We Can” which is a message for the world to sustain a strong will power within each one of us and move ahead with all positive spirits. When we hear such encouraging messages from global leaders and listen to experiences of Syrian children who are fighting for their lives with a smile on their face, it truly upsets me to understand that a group of teenage girls from our state crying out loud after their performance, reason being as mere as not able to win the competition. What message are we giving to our children? Is life all about winning and success? As parents it is very crucial for us to teach our children that they should always aim high to win a competition but if they lose, they must learn to accept their failures, should learn from their mistakes and move on for a better performance.
I would like to take you back to my second article in this column where I mentioned about the school graduates and their parents confused about their interests and career choices. I feel when we as parents, teachers and elders focus our energies, time and money on how to get our children win the competitions in youth festivals, which court to give an appeal so that my child is in the first place? How to bribe the authorities and get the results declared upfront? We are left with no time to focus on essentials like what should be done to get them successful in life. True youth festivals definitely help develop their talents and skills but that’s just one aspect of the holistic growth you are looking for your child.
The legal hassles that parents and the school management get into in the extreme desire to not only see one’s child win but also to make sure that the competitor does not win are not new to the state. I recently happened to interact on this topic with an advocate friend of mine. It took me some time to recoup from the effect of his narrations. I could not believe that some of the parents and the school management could stoop down to such low level only to either get a name for the school or to get some additional grades on paper for their child.
Holistic development of your children is very important and crucial. A child should be allowed to explore his interests and encouraged to develop his talents but that does not mean we should compromise on our principles and value systems. As parents, teachers and elders it is for us to shoulder this responsibility of paving the right way to our children.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)