Purple Mangoes vs. colouring between the lines

'How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.

Its always been the same, same old story.

From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.

Now theres a way and I know that I have to go away.

I know I have to go.'

- Cat Stevens, 'Father & Son'.

I quite empathise with Mitra as she turned the 'mad momma' when her daughter came home with worksheets that had terse instructions to colour a banana yellow and only within the lines.

It is but necessary that children colour mangoes with whatever colour they want to, and colour beyond the lines. But when Mitra exhorts us to act by saying 'there is much broken in Indian education, but government, schools and advertising regulators should unite to keep new players more honest and relevant', she seems to be singing the wrong tune.

Keep 'new players' honest and relevant? What's that supposed to mean? Were the 'oldies' always ethical and concerned mostly about societal good, with no misguided personal aspirations?

The way I see it, the order to colour between the lines is not restricted to an institution called the 'school'. Sure, I agree that's where it hurts the most, but then the 'larger truth' stares us squarely in the face! And that is, we've always been told to colour that way, every step of our lives. At our homes, schools, colleges, workplaces, social spaces and maybe even our deathbeds. Take for instance, workplaces. Who's the 'google' out there? Which are these companies out there that have workforces getting up every Monday morning raring to get to work and make history?

It is but time we get this fair and square. A society throws up institutions that are reflective of that very society. There cannot be a disconnect to the extent that we would ever have a society that exhorts its members to 'break beyond the lines' and a school within it that dares the opposite.

If schools want kids to colour bananas, yellow and keep it within the lines, maybe its because that's exactly what we want them to do!


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