Yesterday, I attended a talk by my boss and teacher Jyoti Sanyal on writing. The audience consisted of school teachers who taught English. Sanyal, essentially, was trying to drive home the point that children, when left alone, uninterrupted by adults, can be creative. It’s we adults who spoil the fun.
Of course, quite a few teachers were up in arms at the idea that teachers in
I wanted to ask her, “What then is the main idea, ma’m?” I didn’t have the opportunity to, because she was being already being ragged by quite a few.
What is this obsession with the main idea? Is there a main idea at all? Does there have to be a main idea? And how does the teacher assume that becoming a tree and bearing fruits is not a main idea for the kid? Why, oh why, do we have to assume that there is one main idea, and it is, was, and always shall be for the rest of mankind?
If the same story was written by some damned pseudo-academic and then included in the curriculum, I am sure the same teacher would be cramming the story down her students’ gullets. But, it was just a kid who’d written this non-sense. It was her bounden duty to correct him. The child would then be forever doomed to searching for the main idea. Remember, he’s been told it’s out there.
And then, morals. Oh, I must tell you this one. Sanyal asked the teachers why they couldn’t tell children stories without morals, like that of Ashwatthama. Again, a very disturbed teacher asked him, “What do you mean? We don’t need to teach our children morals? Should there be no morality at all?”
And it suddenly struck me that this is the root of all fundamentalism. The need to see things in just two colours, the denial of a million other hues that do exist, the urgency to defend ‘yourselves’ against ‘them’ - all spring from the thought that there is a moral to a story and that there is a main idea.
This world sucks way too much man.