You want your child to be a Genius.
I know you said yes because it would have been grossly unpatriotic of you if you had said no. To want the mark of pure, unadulterated genius on the forehead of your progeny is a national characteristic. No, I didn’t say obsession, you just hear noises in your head.
The reason for this ‘genius hangup’ is as simple as it is illuminating. It is because the intellectual prowess of your child is a direct reflection of your own. It is irrelevant that in a scale of 1-10 your intelligence has struggled to cross 3. The moment your progeny shoots past 8, it will carry your sorry ass beyond that point too. You are the parent, people will whisper; you MUST be more intelligent than your child. No, I didn’t say reflected glory; you just hear noises in your head.
There is a particular reason why I am writing this today. The new academic session has just begun across India. This is the time to yank up those droopy socks of yours and insert an iron rod through the most appropriate part of your anatomy to take the place of that spine you lost somewhere in your murky past. I perhaps ought not to rub it in, but I must remind you that in the previous academic year, despite your most earnest pushing, your child lagged far from the finishing line. I am confident that a few judicious words, a couple of cunningly devised stratagems, would get in amongst you in no uncertain manner. There is nothing as effective as applying the good ‘ol salve at the right place in the right season. No, I didn’t say butcher’s knife, I said salve. You just hear noises in your head…
Before I blithely begin to roll out the strategies, let us define genius. A Genius is a myopic, gloomy looking individual who goes about peering at the world in pained and unsmilingly moroseness. It is almost as if his sense of humor has been bred away to make room for his Genius. He has all the answers pat. His general knowledge is phenomenal. He has a photographic memory. When this wonder of wonders studies, he rocks back and forth. His rocking resembles the way we would rock a jar when we want to fill it with more than it can contain and are trying to settle down what’s already in it. No, I didn’t say stuffing, you just hear noises in your…
The proof of the Genius is in the eating…. er… fact that he comes first in class. I mean, he WOULD have come first if they hadn’t plotted to rob him of this triumph by introducing the grade system. Still, the poor thing does his best. He keeps at his teachers until they disgorge the information he seeks on his class ranking. In the rare instance when his teacher happens to be a tough cookie and maintains the impassive demeanor of a stuffed frog, he moves on to his classmates. He laboriously notes down each classmate’s aggregate marks so he can draw his conclusions. No, I didn’t say he makes a pest of himself, you just hear noises…
That’s enough background I suppose. You must be eager to see me get to the nub of the matter and start decanting the words of wisdom. You have a paper and pen ready..? Good then, here goes:
- Never, never, never, never, NEVER let your child read anything but his school books. If he cries from sheer boredom, let him. Remember, you are being cruel to be kind.
- The ONLY exception to the above rule is GK books. Let ALL of his spare time be devoted to cramming general knowledge. Personally, I think it a capital idea to let the child live each moment with a GK book in his hand. I don’t think there is any harm if he takes it into the loo with him. Only make sure he doesn’t flush it down the toilet. It’ll clog the drains. Buying another would be a blessing in disguise- you’ll be able to get the latest copy. So that he will have to forget some of the old stuff and replace it with the new. But that’s all right. Remember where you lurked on that scale of 1-10? Do you want to stay there? Then shut up and stop whining!
- When he prepares for his exams, forbid him from attempting to understand things. You will have to nip this disease as soon as you ever can. Permit him ONLY to learn by rote. Some kids are rather difficult and may resist. I am not recommending capital punishment, but there are times when the poor mutts just don’t get the point. In that case- and that case ONLY- a light thrashing won’t really harm. You remember the spare the rod and spoil the child adage, don’t you…?
- Don’t think learn by rote is an easy thing. There are guidelines for that too. When your child learns, make sure he also learns the:
- Punctuation marks
- Chapter number
- Page number of the book where the answer appears
- Paragraph number of the answer from the top of the page.
- In case of math questions, he must remember the Exercise No, the page number, the question number, the answer (of course) AND the page number on which the answer appears in the book.
- Condition his mind everyday. Don’t EVER let him hear anything which hasn’t been said for the past two hundred odd years. We want him to conform to the masses. Remember, you are raising a Genius, not a child (read rebel).
- Teach him to flinch from an innovative thought as the Brahmins flinched from the contact of a low caste. Teach him the same disgust… the same abhorrence… the same revulsion. Remember the countless off-beat movies you have seen depicting the situation and take pointer from them if your run out of revulsion.
- Never, never, never, NEVER permit him to think for himself. Always make his decisions for him and when you want his opinion- give it to him. Make things easy for him. You must not permit that priceless brain to be used for anything as mundane as learning how to deal with life. Remember the story of Arjun and the fish. Focus, focus!
- Teach him to be competitive. This means:
- He must learn to fight ferociously for each quarter of a mark in his test papers.
- Teach him how to do it in a way that gets the job done and doesn’t antagonize the teachers too much. The best thing of course is to do his fighting for him. That way, if the teacher tries to take it out on him, he can roll his eyes and cry piteously about how he hates your interference. It is sure to win him extra points.
- Teach him to grab the test papers of those classmates who have scored better than him and then to haggle with the teacher on why he was not given more marks on question 3 and 5. Let the style and quality of his haggling shame fisher-women.
- For all of this, he must, must, MUST know how to sulk and throw tantrums. Teach him until it comes naturally to him. Yes, he will make your life hell too with this… but naturally you have to sacrifice a bit, don’t you..?
- Don’t EVER let him forget that he is on a mission. A mission which can only be accomplished with plodding DULL work… day after day… night after night. Keep his nose to the grindstone. Remember the countless stories lauding the value of repetition?
- This is the last point. I really want to you to understand this well. Remember, I am saying this with the utmost solemnity. If you detect the slightest trace of independence and wit in your child, step on the ugly thing and grind it into the dust. He will thank you one day with tears in his eyes. Remember we are trying to raise a Genius, not someone who is into doing his own thing.
When your child attains the lofty heights reserved for Geniuses, don’t forget to acknowledge the source of your guidance.
I know you will wish to thank me. Your natural delicacy may stop you from remitting cash to my Swiss bank account. You might mistakenly imagine that since merely money cannot pay for what I have done, I would be happy with a sloppy tears in the eyes routine. I assure you will all the emphasis at my disposal, I shall not be the least bit embarrassed by any remittances made to my Swiss bank account- hefty remittances, I might add. The tears in the eyes routine we can go into later or skip entirely; I couldn’t care less.
May India become a land fit only for Geniuses to live in…!
Disclaimer: This was my personal opinion. You may disagree with it in parts or in whole. I will not attempt to dissuade you from your dearly held beliefs. It is also my right to hang on to my beliefs with equal, if not greater, fervor. At worst, let us agree to disagree.