Hold on, are you calling the Indian education system intolerant, staid, and boring? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, you wouldn’t find more 'innovative' education elsewhere: some of our educators can get really creative and ensure that the lessons will be burned in the brains of little ones, whatever be the means.
Don't believe us? Take a look at this class 4 environmental studies textbook from Delhi. Under a subhead “Living things breathe”, the author prescribes an experiment in which children are asked to take two kittens and place them in two boxes. One box will have holes, the other won’t (fun!). The students must then close the boxes for some time. What do you think they will find when they open them?
“The kitten inside the box without holes has died.”
What a brilliant way to teach kids about life, death and oxygen! And really, what does the death of a baby animal matter if your child got to learn that it needed to breathe? How else do you think a child could have learnt about inhaling and exhaling? Surely not by any other method that doesn't hint at serial killer tendencies.
The kitten, who died for the laudable cause of educating Indian children, deserves 'martyr' status. Patriotism level 10,000. Everyone's happy.
Or not. Sadly, some folks without an advanced sense of humour found this problematic. A woman from Chennai saw the textbook as a way of teaching young children disturbing habits and approached Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi regarding the issue.
As per the latest update, children have been told to tear the two pages from the book and the principal of the school has promised that the book will not be repeated. The publishers, a company called PP Publishers, have assured that the book will not be printed by them further and that they would contact the author of the book.
What a shame, no? How will children learn about living things needing to breathe now? How many more pages will they have to tear? And according to a comment made by a social media user on one of the posts sharing these photos, we need to stop treating kids like “mumbling idiots” and “fragile little lives” lest they turn into “soft, sensitive, intolerant weaklings in the future.”
No matter. Inspired by the Delhi textbook, we have a few experiments for anyone wanting to learn some serious life skills. The real deal. None of those flasks, protective gear and chemistry labs. And anyway, compassion is for sissies.
1. Living things need food and water to survive
Living things not only need oxygen, but also food and water to live. You can do an experiment. Take a puppy and a potted plant. Tie the puppy in a dark room and leave the potted plant there for about two weeks. Lock the door and forget about it.
Check after a fortnight. What do you see? The plant and the puppy have died. Didn't predict that, did you?
2. Human beings have emotions and feelings
Human beings are emotive and express themselves in a variety of ways. You can do an experiment. Make fun of a disabled person. Do they cry or seem upset? They have feelings. Break your friends’ pencils or tear their favourite book. Do they seem angry? Your friends have feelings.
Don’t talk to anyone for a few days. Do you feel confused and upset? You have feelings.
3. Road safety is important
You must always look on both sides of the road before crossing it. If you fail to be careful, it can cause accidents and pose a risk to you as well as other commuters’ lives. You can do an experiment. Take two dogs. Cross the road carefully with one dog while looking on both sides before crossing. Leave the other dog to fend for itself in the middle of a noisy, busy road. What do you see?
The other dog has been run over. Clearly, dogs are not as smart as you are.
4. Stealing is bad
Stealing is not a good thing. It can make you a criminal. You can do an experiment. Find out where your parents keep their purses. When they are not around, steal some money, preferably all of it. Disappear for a few hours and spend that money. Come back and tell your parents what you did. They will be upset. Stealing is bad.
OHHHH, wait...that's why it's punishable under law, see?
5. Studying is detrimental for health
After going through these killer lessons (literally), we have come to the conclusion that studying is bad for children. So, kids, go, play and run free. Don’t listen to teachers and do not read books. And don’t forget to go on the internet and spend all your time there.
Don’t worry about empathy and compassion, they’re SO yesterday! Learn for yourself. Everything else is collateral damage.
Views expressed are the personal opinions of the author.