Last two weeks I have been visiting few schools with my sister for the selection of Jwalamukhi's next batch ( www.blog.jwalamukhi.org ).
We visited schools catering to children from middle class and poor sections of our society.
We had a very interesting chat with groups of 12yr olds ( class 6)
We asked them who were their role models in life, the things they like about India and hate about India, what would they change if they were given the powers to change something in their country etc...
The responses we got were amusing at times, re assuring at times but completing candid at all times!
Talking of role models many children named a parent as a role model, some named cricket players ( especially Sachin) as their role models, a few children named APJ Khalam but what surprised us were no one named a film star as their role model, even when we prodded them about mentioning a film star.
These little children were so level headed enough to understand what is practical and knew the difference between make believe heroism and real heroes. It was really heartening to see them choose APJ Khalam over film stars..
While a few children from a school catering to regular middle class said the good thing about India as..." they liked the fact that they were free to do anything in this country, had comforts and were able to go to good schools ", in contrast a few children from government schools said that , the problem in India is,"many children are not able to go to school and do not have proper food, affordable hospitals."
When asked if God could grant them a wish what would they ask him /( or her ??) it was surprising to note that none of them asked for a lot of wealth or richness ..even the poor children from the government schools.
Almost all of them pointed out corruption as an evil that frustrated them and seemed to have heard or seen traffic police men or government officials taking bribes.
After going over our discusions with these little children we realized that these young children who were at the threshold of their teens seem to know the right from the wrong, were frustrated and kept asking as to why our leaders( meaning politicians) were so corrupt, and were definitely interested in doing something very good for their country!
What gave us hope were that they had not become as cynical as us and more importantly still felt India was a good place to live in.
We have to remember that our children are watching everything around them and these make an impression on their minds.
we have to be careful about our casual comments about religious beliefs, discriminations, and even things ;like preferance for fair skin over dark for example.
Children belong to an un influenced set ofpeople who can be trained to think right.
Lets take care not to pass on our prejudices to them.
These make lasting impressions and then they will also grow up to be like most of us- cynical, frustrated with the situations around us and not care enough to do sopmething about it ourselves.
Lets remember that they look up to us as role models and ask ourselves this simple question-'What impression do I create in my child's mind?"