Friday, November 14, 2014

8th Grade and the Prep School

I was really looking forward to the eighth grade. The class would be shuffled again and I would have new friends, new experiences and new things to learn. I was optimistic.

The first semester was not very different from my experience in the seventh grade. More rote learning. More Grades. Study, Do Not Understand. That is the objective. Stay Focused. If you do not suffer now, then what will you do in the real world? (…In my head…What in the world is the real world?...What world am I in now?.... Scratch my head and nod back with a smile…I have no clue what is going on!)

I did not read books because I was surrounded by only textbooks

I did not read books then. I thought it was a very boring habit. Looking back now, I wish I had developed the habit of reading earlier. I could have used all the leisure time I had to read wonderful books and learn from the wisdom of the ages. I associated reading books with school text books and thus kept my distance from it.

The Prep school

During the summer holidays, a preparatory institute had partnered with my school to train students for the national Indian entrance exams for engineering.

My mother always wanted me to become an engineer. I thought the word sounded cool and smart. It would be a nice tag to add to my name. I never protested. My mother began convincing me about the field and told me about the entrance exams and the preparatory school. She told me how competitive the exams actually were. If I really wanted to get into a top engineering college in India, I had to start my preparation from now. I was in the eighth grade!

All this sounded so inspirational. I sacrifice my happy student days for a successful long-term career. I had to do this. I had to make my mother proud. And because I was suddenly doing better at school, I thought going to another level of difficulty would not be too much of a problem.

Oh! I was wrong.

So I joined the preparatory institute and signed up my name for their program that would start from the second semester of the eighth grade. It was to start after the summer vacations. The fees for the program were astronomically high, but my parents considered this an investment in my education and went ahead anyways. I had no interest in the subject. But I thought I was a smart kid. In the seventh grade I had done well with my superior memorization skills.

But the entrance exam was on Maths and Science, and there was not much to memorize here. I had to understand what I was learning. This was hard. It was such a funny moment. I was told I was a brilliant student in the seventh grade and now in the eighth grade I became one of the worst students in my class. What was happening? It was all so confusing.

I trusted the system when it told me memorization without learning was the most important skill for every student. I was awarded good grades for it too. But now the same system tells me that you must understand what you learn. Why?

Things were not going to be the same for me anymore. My life was going in a direction I had not chosen for myself. I had no control over this situation. It was like I was walking into a cave that had no end.

I was scared, unsure and uncertain...

Let us learn together
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