Apple Co-founder, Steve Wozniak said in a recent interview that Indians are more concerned with academics than encouraging creativity. He says, ‘The culture here is one of success based upon academic excellence, studying, learning, practicing and having a good job and a great life. For upper India, not the lower. I see two Indias. That’s a lot like Singapore study, study, work hard and you get an MBA, you will have a Mercedes but where is the creativity?’
Wozniak is right in questioning our creative flair. But who is responsible for stifling the creativity of young minds in our country?
Society’s definition of success revolves around academic excellence and getting a good job.
It’s not as if Indians lack creativity. We have had poets, artists, writers, innovators in the past who have acquired critical acclaim globally and also continue to have them even today. It’s just that now creativity goes unappreciated in our country.
Especially post-independence, our cultural definition of success revolves around scoring highest marks in exams of various kinds.
It starts as early as Junior K.G., with parents considering the ward’s grades as a parameter to measure the quality of genes they have passed on. Be it board exams, or competitive ones like IIT-JEE, AIPMT or CAT, our obsession with marks is what defines intelligence.
After that success is defined by pay cheques. We consider people to be successful, if they manage to buy an expensive car or have a sprawling home. This probably the reason why no one wants to become a writer, or dancer, or innovator in this country. It’s as if every child in India is born pre-programmed to either become an engineer or a doctor. This is also the reason why we remain dependent on first world countries for technology and research. If Wozniak was born in India, he would have been shoved into a 9 to 5 job by our system before he could even explain coding and innovation to his parents.
Our education system is centered around learning, not understanding
Part of the blame lies with our education system as well, which only rewards rote learning.
Every student who opts for streams other than Maths and Science is branded less intelligent than those who do. But even in the fields of Science and Mathematics, we neither motivate nor have the proper resources for children who dare to think outside the box.
The education system in a way is how our society interprets learning and knowledge. Somewhere from Aryabhatta, Charaka, Kalidasa, and then C.V. Raman, Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Ravi Varma, our focus shifted from knowledge and creativity to memorising, studying hard and getting a high-paying job.
Things will remain so, if we remain satiated with where we are. Changing the education system is just the start. It is our basic approach to success, studies and jobs which needs to change. Creative talent will keep slipping out of our country, unless we learn to appreciate and reward it. Engineers and doctors are indeed important for a country. They form the framework of our health care and infrastructure.
But it is unfair to motivate children to pursue these careers only because they guarantee a secure future and bring social standing to the family.
Steve Wozniak also says, ‘The creativity gets left out when your behaviour is too predictable and structured, everyone is similar.’ When we will stop the mass brainwashing of our children to make them believe that they can only become successful by becoming doctors or engineers, we will realise that they have so much more to offer both to the society and the world. There is no fun in shaping their minds alike. Let them run wild and free, and discover what they are capable of doing, on their own.
Picture credit: digitallearning.eletsonline.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.