The Watermelon Story

The story of watermelons by Manohar Parrikar:

I am from the village of Parra in Goa, hence we are called Parrikars. My village is famous for its watermelons. When I was a child, the farmers would organise a watermelon-eating contest at the end of the harvest season in May. 
All the kids would be invited to eat as many watermelons as they wanted. Years later, I went to IIT Mumbai to study engineering. I went back to my village after 6.5 years. 
I went to the market looking for watermelons. They were all gone. The ones that were there were so small.
 I went to see the farmer who hosted the watermelon-eating contest. His son had taken over. He would host the contest but there was a difference. 
When the older farmer gave us watermelons to eat he would ask us to spit out the seeds into a bowl. We were told not to bite into the seeds.
 He was collecting the seeds for his next crop. We were unpaid child labourers, actually. He kept his best watermelons for the contest and he got the best seeds which would yield even bigger watermelons the next year. 
His son, when he took over, realised that the larger watermelons would fetch more money in the market so he sold the larger ones and kept the smaller ones for the contest. 
The next year, the watermelons were smaller, the year later even small. In watermelons the generation is one year. In seven years, Parra’s best watermelons were finished. In humans, generations change after 25 years. It will take us 200 years to figure what we were doing wrong while educating our children.”
Unless we employ our best to train the next generation, this is what can happen to us. We must attract the best into teaching profession.
Great story indeed! Each one of us are responsible to offer our best culture to next generation! 
The whole world is looking to India as a Spiritual Leader. 
Unfortunately, hardly few are aware of the great heritage we have carried! 
If we don’t pass on right things to next generation, they will be misguided.

So, one of my students had shared the above forward message with me on WhatsApp which literally spoke my thoughts but, in the form of a story.

Being a young and dynamic lecturer in commerce, I had vowed that I will mould the young minds for their brighter future and also teach them beyond the books.

I am not one of those lecturers who would just teach what has been printed in the text books; I believe that the students should know beyond the textbooks; they should have the practical knowledge about the subject that they are studying.

When I step into the class every day, I make it a point to bridge the gap between the books and how the real world works. I now feel it was a blessing in disguise for me to have earlier worked in one the most reputed MNCs and also at a Hyderabad based upcoming Ad agency.

By sharing my previous work experiences with students and updating them with the current affairs, I not only show them a glimpse of the real world, but I also help them understand their subject better.

But this generation of parents and students is such that they don’t believe in a concept of learning and understanding the subject anymore. They are all a part of the rat race which has made everyone believes in the concept of marks they score and rote learning method they choose to learn. This attitude has ruined the life many children and it needs to be changed.

Everyone needs to understand that it isn’t necessary that the topper of the subject has the conceptual understanding of the subject. There are times when the students who have scored lesser marks understand the subject better. But No one values that conceptual knowledge the student has, everyone just judges them by their mark sheet and academic performance.

Before you shoot the question ‘If they are so good with the subject, then why didn’t they score well?’ let me throw some light on this aspect too. Most of the members of the teaching faculty do not encourage the students to be innovative with their answers and only prefer to see the content from the text books in their answer sheets. The faculty’s knowledge is most of the time outdated; the syllabus & the books are so outdated that it makes it difficult for the students to connect their subject to the real world. If they try to write an answer with as per their understanding of subject, their answer is simply marked wrong because it does not completely match the wordings of the text book. Now, in this situation, why would a student wish to stay updated when they are going to be marked wrong for writing something in their own words or for citing a latest example? The students then restrict their learning to the pages of the textbook and resort to rote learning method as that is the only method of scoring marks in the exam (which sometimes back fires on the students later). Over the years, the quality of education has diminished because of this attitude.

To my dismay, the employers of the teaching staff in various educational institutions also fail to understand this philosophy of conceptual learning and quality teaching. I am not ashamed to admit that the institutions nowadays try to hire people who are willing to do a lot of work for less money, with obviously no guarantee of quality work as a lecturer. There are so many schools in my city where teachers / Lecturers cannot speak fluently in any language. We know that the students look up to their teachers and learn a lot more by just observing them do work, observe and learn their pronunciation of words, communication skills, grooming, etiquettes, and of course their behaviour with other people… The children notice everything and they unknowingly integrate those habits in theirs. If the institution doesn’t hire the best, then how can the students be the best? And mind you, when I say hiring the best I mean by not just going by the mark sheet of the lecturer or their years of experience; those things do matter, but other things like personality, communication skills and understanding of the subject also cannot be ignored.

What everyone fails to realise is that we are playing with the future of the upcoming generations. I know that my thoughts will make no impact on the people reading this blog. But I think the story that had shared with you might make you think again about what I have written. Though my scope here was just restricted to the field of teaching, the same lesson does imply to other fields and areas of work too.

I am not sure of the situation in the other counties, but I have definitely seen this happening in my country.

Do comment below and share your views with me so I can correct myself I am heading towards a wrong direction. 🙂

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