Friday, June 17, 2011

Fringe Benefits of Failure and Importance of Imagination

On this beautiful rainy morning, as we eagerly await the the SSC results for 2011, I would like to share with my precious daughter and everybody to whom these results matter, a few excerpts from the following:

J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series, delivered her Commencement Address, "The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and The Importance of Imagination," at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association on 5th June 2008.

'I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension'.

'Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies'.

'You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default'.

'Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision, that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared'.

'Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates'.

'As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters'.

'If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better'.

'Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality'.

'The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned'.

I am unable to quote this speech in its entirety for obvious reasons, but I recommend to google it and read. Its relevant for today's youth as well as the ones graduated many moons ago.

Don't be surprised if you find me walking funnily now, just a few hours before the results, as my fingers and toes are crossed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

SSC results Mumbai, Maharashtra 2011

The past three months has been a long break from our routine school and home life of approximately twelve years. No more frenzy to pack lunch boxes, irritability over missing the school bus....AAHH what a relief!

And now finally tomorrow 17th June 2011, yet another milestone in my daughter's life will be accomplished with the declaration of her SSC (Secondary School Certificate) results.As a mother, it is a milestone in my life too.

The headlines on almost all newspapers today read 'Know your SSC Fate Tomorrow' This news has eased some of the anxiety for parents and students alike as it's the first public exam students appear for.

I had got hold of a write-up on the internet dated 19th May 2011 that SSC scores for 2011 would be in the form of grades and not marks.

Following is a part of that text.
“The secondary education department issued a GO (Go Rt No 119) to this effect on Wednesday. The GO stated that from SSC-2011, students who score between 92-100 marks in an examination will be given A1 grade. From 83 to 91%, the grade would be A2,75 to 82% B1, 67 to 74%, it would be B2, 59 to 66% C1, 51 to 58% C2, 43 to 50% D1, 35 to 42% D2 and 34 and below E. The grading system introduced is similar to the one followed by CBSE.”

How I wish the same is true here in Maharashtra State Board SSC results 2011 as well. I am definite there would be a drop in psychiatric and suicides cases and a rise in the morales and general well being of a large population.

I'm sure most parents in India will agree that our education system is archaic to a certain extent, more so the state boards.

Recently, I visited a new home in Mumbai allotted by the government organisation her husband works for. Everyone present there were aghast at the waste of precious space in space crunched Mumbai and we all opined that the design was definitely not planned by someone who values space.

It's the same case with our education system. It's surely not planned and executed by the well wishers of our children.

From a tender age they are loaded with bags heavier than their body weight, made to write before their fingers and hands have developed properly, kept in captivity indoors on narrow hard benches for long hours while they should be more outside than inside, forced to learn by rote senseless topics till their brains are twisted – I could go on and on, but I know unless like the correct house architect if what I ramble does not reach the right education architect will not change anything for anyone least of all our precious youth. Nonetheless, I will say now what I should have said earlier as it only takes a spark to start a fire or to keep it going.

All the very best to you my dear young ones and parents too!