What Do We Actually 'Celebrate' In Our Schools?

'So, you're 'celebrating' again.'

'Yes, it's Independence Day tomorrow.'

'Oh, so another round of ritualistic speeches?'

'What do you mean, ritualistic speeches?'

'You know what I mean. The same old 'important' people will be called. They will be welcomed, garlanded and they will walk around, feeling even more self-important.'

'You're being very unkind, you know.'

'But close to the truth, isn't it?'

'I'm not sure if this is really ritualistic…'

'No, it is what follows afterwards…. The same formal atmosphere will be created. Children will sit in neat rows and told not to talk too much. The LIP (or your Local Important Person) will be praised, invited to give us the benefit of his wisdom, children will be asked to shush, and then the LIP will give the same speech as every year – you are the future of the country… freedom is very important.. our great leaders were so very great… you must work hard… you must try to like the great people of the past… And all this while instead of experiencing freedom on Independence Day of India, children will be sitting bored, stiff, not allowed tomove around or talk or express themselves….'

'You're being really harsh!''

'OK, tell me, didn't you hear the same speeches when you were a child?'

'Ye-es.'

'Did you really enjoy those celebrations? Were they a celebration for you?'

'Actually, to be honest, no, not really.'

'Aren't you surprised that the same speeches are being made even now?'

'Yeah, now that you mention it…'

'And shouldn't children be more like the leaders of tomorrow rather than the leaders of long past. After all, every kid is not going to experience walking 17 kilometres to school!'

'Hmm… something to think about, there. And come to think of it, why was every great man's school 17 kilometres away?'

'See, it's getting you too!  And when it comes to – no, no, better not to say that.'

'Well you can tell me... I'm not going to shout at you!'

'I know you won't. But I don't want you to feel depressed either.'

'Come on, I can handle it. Tell me what you were going to say.'

'Well, if you insist. The thing is, children attend all these functions year after year, experience the same thing over and over again. And what do they learn? They learn that they don't matter. Their job is to listen. Their role is to be passive, not think for themselves. And look at you – you were a child who once found these functions boring but you are organizing exactly the same kind of function again! Independence Day isn't quite an experience in Independence, isn't it? My thesis is that these National Day type of 'celebrations' only teach us to be slaves, to accept that we have no freedom to be different or better, to allow ourselves to be defined by the limited vision of those limited adults who were similarly made limited by the experience they went through as children themselves…. Hey, you're suddenly very silent now. This is not look good… come on, say something.'

'What do I say? I'm feeling so…'

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