Skip to main content

Let’s utilize the devil’s workshops productively this winter

Schools across the country will remain closed starting December 14, 2010 with the completion of class 12 and 10 Board Examinations, which started on November 30. Others who were studying in the lower classes are already on a long and relaxing break. To students and teachers alike, it comes as a refreshing break at the end of a fruitful academic session. And to parents, based on where they are (urban or remotes areas), this break either spells extra responsibilities or adds a few more helping hands on the farm. 

And the Ministry of Education’s decision to shorten the winter holidays from three to two months came as a relief to many parents in the urban centers, who realize their children would be better off at schools than being idle at home. 

What does the break entail? Those days, when we were students, winter break was a time to get busy. Winter is a lean season people say, but that’s all in economics theories. Practically, there is no end to work in a farming community. Even now, for many students in remote areas, this break is going to be a busy time. And this is the only time of the year when children can help their parents fully. 

They help their parents on the farm and clear the fields. It is time to gather firewood, collect water from the ponds located far away, and look after family’s cows. It is time to gather fodders and dry leaves for cattle. Some boys and girls in the villages will be working on the construction sites to earn some cash income so as to ease burden on their families in the coming school year. 

Down south, it is the season of oranges. And some boys and girls will be helping their parents transport the fruits on their backs. Some students will be involved in breaking stones on the road construction sites. Some will be traveling to towns and cities to meet their siblings, relatives, far cousins and some just for shopping. Some children will accompany their parents to Bodh Gaya, India on a pilgrimage. 

For children in urban areas, it is a time to relax and literally do nothing; off from school, studies and books. These are the children of busy office-going parents. For them it is an official time to watch televisions nonstop and browse the Internet for Facebook and other social networking sites. It is time for them to hang out with friends for longer durations and try new habits. And others will remain completely idle like cabbages for another two months from now. Now “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”, a wise old saying puts it wonderfully. Are we allowing ‘devil’s workshops’ to be built this winter? What should we do to prevent breeding ‘idle minds’ and make children’s winter break more meaningful and productive? 

Parents must play vital role. I see them enrolling their children in some useful and productive activities, I see them registering their children for public libraries, I see them teaching their children write better or better still send them for tuition that teach them creative writings, I see them enlisting their children in sports coaching camps, I see them reading stories to their younger children, I see them carefully observing their children’s behaviors and attitudes. I also see them carefully observing where their children hang out, with whom and for how long.

And conversely I don’t see them visiting bars especially so now their children are home. I don’t see them drinking and making unnecessary commotions at home. I don’t see them gathering at friends’ place to gamble. 

Behind the building where I stay, there is an empty road. I call it empty because no vehicles are permitted on this one-kilometer stretch. It is a busy bustling road where health conscious men and women jog, walk and practice yoga in the evening and early morning. At nights, this empty road is a favorite place for the howling stray dogs. And of late, it has become the meeting grounds for youth. I have all the reasons to assume they are students of some schools in the country and may be even colleges. The level of noise they make has even scared and chased away the strays from their barking haven. Heaven knows what they are up to. And I wish their parents know more about this. Busy parents groom busy children, who freely loiter in groups, in undisclosed corners and shadows. 

This is what happens when children have more time to hang out. This is what happens when parents have less time to be with their children. This is what happens when you have least bothered parents. This is what happens when parents leave their children on their own.

P.S: The above piece appeared in Bhutan Times December 12, 2010 issue

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Our throw-it-away culture

Like all grandparents, my late grandma would call food 'tsampa rimpoche' and any fuss made about it would invite everyone's sneer and scoldings. Food is always treated with respect and is never wasted. "If you waste food in any manner," she would admonish us. "One day food will discard you and you will go hungry." 
What remained from the previous meal would be turned either into porridge or sometimes leftover rice would be dried in the sun. The dried rice would then be fried into puffed rice and consumed with cups of suja. When there was so much food left, especially during big events, leftover rice or kharang would be mixed with a small amount of yeast and brewed into ara.  
The only thing that I can vividly recollect from my primary school days is how we would be hungry most of the time. Food we were served was hardly enough to tickle our throats. We would be sent home only once a week on Saturdays and that was our opportunity to replenish our popcorn s…

Utpal Academy - Bhutan's first All-girls High School

Welcome to Bhutan’s first all-girls school. Isn’t that wonderful news to all our parents? Certainly, as a parent of a one-year old daughter I am excited about the coming of a school exclusively dedicated to the needs of girls. Our girls need special treatment, which we can for sure entrust the responsibility to Utal Academy, Paro.
I really like the name – Utpal – in Buddhist world, Utpal is another name for lotus flower, which is believed to grow from mud and yet blossoms into a beautiful and majestic flower. It stands for purity and many deities are depicted holding flower Utpal, more prominently Jestusn Dolma, the Goddess Tara. Symbolically, it also stands for the transformation of our girls. What an apt name for the school!
The Principal’s message posted on the academy’s website promises providing our young women an “opportunity to participate fully in a wide range of extracurricular activities to develop skills and qualities that will lead to successful and fulfilling life.” That’s…

Bloggers are not journalists

To say bloggers are not journalists is to say oranges are not carrots. Bloggers are not journalists. That’s true. But can bloggers become journalists? Maybe. Can journalists be bloggers? Yes. In fact, it would be only proper and appropriate for journalists to blog their opinions as opposed to being 'politically' correct all the time. So why call oranges carrots when they are what they are?
Well, it is true – bloggers have no training in journalism. That’s why they are bloggers. And for the same reason they are  not journalists. No bloggers have ever claimed what they blog can qualify as ‘journalism’.  We all do what we love the most and give our best in whatever we are doing either reporting news or blogging. 

Journalists do it as careers. Bloggers do it (mostly) for hobby and out of passion. Most journalists also do it with great passion - that's true. The journalists get paid for doing their jobs while bloggers derive pleasure doing it. Journalists cover (report) stories eve…