Coaching or no Coaching!

Coaching or No CoachingThe IIT JEE coaching scenario in India today has transformed by leaps and bounds. I was party to a coaching institute hunt a few days ago, when my co-sister flew down from Mumbai to Bangalore to search for coaching institutes.

She was very sure of the process being followed to get students admitted into a coaching institute since she has been doing some research of her own and checking up with friends whose kids are in grade 10th and grade 11th.

Nevertheless, I decided to go along with her to inquire about the processes being followed by these institutes in Bangalore. It also served by personal interest since I am in the field of teacher education and soon would be stepping into the role of a student career counsellor.

This visit was a great learning experience for me. Almost an eye-opener. Here I was, planning to get trained to be a career counsellor to young adults and then there is this dearth of coaching institutes where parents simply send their children to get coaching for IIT JEE.

The children are clueless, they don’t have any idea of how it is going to be for them after they complete their 10th exams. Basically some of them just don’t care. So is it just us parents who are worried and anxious about what to do with the careers of our children?

The coaching institutes are having a field day since they have decided to blend the school syllabus with their coaching and run an almost parallel school for these children. Most of them have tied up with schools. The children write an entrance test for admission into these institutes and get admission (almost of them pass the test), this data is then sent to their tied up schools. The schools simply take the tuition fees for grade 11th and 12th and admit the child.

[pullquote-left]“With this coaching business, students are left with no choice at all. They are simply being thrown from a fire to a hot frying pan. The whole idea of giving these kids, (who are in their adolescence, an age where everything is topsy-turvy for them), time of their own to think and decided, has become alien.”[/pullquote-left]

The child is expected to be at the coaching centre 4 days a week 8:30am to 3:30pm to get coached in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. 2 days of the week the child is required to attend school for the elective subjects and also for attendance namesake. Some institutes offer coaching in all the 5 subjects opted by the children in CBSE for grade 11th and 12th. This is the integrated coaching format. The institutes also offer only coaching for the exams as well, where the child goes to school as normal but has to attend coaching for 4 hours 4 days a week post school or 2 days weekend classes.

The coaching institutes are playing to the sentiments of the parents and also the fact that parents are working, there is no time to hunt for schools and classes. What best option for the parents than to put the child in a coaching institute and be free of all hassles for 2 years.

This coaching is not meant only for Grade 11th & 12th students. In some cities like Hyderabad, kids go to these coaching from grade 5. This coaching game to prepare students to just simply sit and solve problems day in and day out or study about laws of physics and chemistry without any knowledge of its application makes me very concerned as a parent and as an educator.

It made me question on what is happening to the mind sets of parents. Agreed that we have gone through the same process, albeit 20 years ago, when I was studying, there was no integrated coaching and we did have school classes and teachers who taught us. At least there was some sense of individuality and a feeling of me being able to do something of my own. I do remember being totally free for 2 months post my 10th board exams. I had the opportunity to while away my time the way I wanted during those 2 months. Do children now even have that breathing space between classes? It pains me to see them just flit between one class to another without even having a clue of what is being learned.

With this coaching business, students are left with no choice at all. They are simply being thrown from a fire to a hot frying pan. The whole idea of giving these kids, (who are in their adolescence, an age where everything is topsy-turvy for them), time of their own to think and decided, has become alien. Teachers are happy since their burden and responsibility has been taken up by the coaching institutes. More than that they get paid better if they take up jobs with the coaching institutes than the school.

Does this not speak about the pathetic situation, higher secondary education is in our country? It totally speaks about how we as parents, as teachers, as school management, coaching institute owners and policy makers, doing everything to make our children crippled to make any decisions in their life and learn to just be successful by fighting his/her way out in the rat race. There is no support for their emotional and psychological needs. I feel, through this process, we are setting up our children to fail to lead a life peacefully.

We live on comparisons and we die with them. How should it matter if Mr. X’s son is doing the coaching and Mr. Y’s son has already made it to the IIT? It doesn’t bother the kids so it goes beyond my reasoning on why it should matter to us as parents.

I strongly feel that as parents and teachers we should be able to do our own research and find out what options are available. Provide opportunities to our kids to be able to do their own research, talk to people they know, especially meet with engineers or doctors and understand what they actually do in real life, if possible take those couple of months off after their board exams and intern with a professional just to understand what that career will hold for them. This will enable to identify their interests and allow them to look for courses that fulfil their interests. By allowing them to do this, I feel we would be raising more mentally stable adults. Who value and love what they do.

Coaching or mentoring is surely required but in what areas and how is a very important question, all of us as parents, teachers, educators should keep asking ourselves. There are only so many IITs and NITs. Why can’t we make each our colleges and institutes to function like an IIT or NIT? Why can’t teachers take onus of their own professional development and be so good that parents and children do not look for an alternate solution to schools and studies? What is basis of these standardised tests? For how long are we going to sustain these kind of tests? I have so many more such questions. Not all of them can be answered now but if we as parents and teachers and educators do not ask these questions and let things be, the hope of a better living scenario in our country seems to be grim. The government has to pull up its socks when it comes to government schools and colleges, however, that does not absolve our responsibilities as aware citizens of this country. They are our children, they are the future, and how can we just let them go directionless? Are we then letting the country go directionless as well?

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