Doing it Right


Walking our dog in the mornings and evenings is a ritual undertaken every day. On such a walk, we came to a pedestrian crossing and the signal started to blink red. There was a mother with her two teenaged children trying to cross. The mother started crossing and was howling at the top of her voice in Punjabi, instructing the children to follow her. The children did not move and were advising the mother against her action. The mother crossed over and the children were left behind. Here the generation gap became evident both physically and mentally.  From their diction, it was evident that the mother was brought up back home in India and the children were nurtured in Canada.

On one such walks, we were accompanied by our son and I was about to take the dog across the crossing when the light had started blinking red. Our son advised me not to do it and further added that this act was very much like running over a red light while driving. Even now I do get an itch to cross over in similar situation, but I always remember our son’s advice.

One always wondered as to how come we have that itch to break a simple law – it neither saves time nor is it any way more convenient. One can attribute it to the ethos we had practiced back home and also to the denials we faced. The spirit of winning a competition by using any means and to push forward one’s agenda could have resulted in this.

The competition we faced back home always prompted us to cross-examine our children when they came home with a report card or a test result. We always wanted to know as to who got the maximum marks, where does our child stand in the class, etc. I also followed this when our daughter came home with her first report card in Canada. She said it Is indecent to ask someone their marks in Canada and the marks are confidential and is never announced in public. My mind raced back to our school days and even our army course days; where no marks were ever kept confidential and were mostly put up on a notice board. What an injustice, especially to those who did not fare well.

In Canada, the end-of-term report cards come home in a sealed envelope and there is no discussion about the student’s performance or there is no parent interview.

The parent-teacher meeting is held after six weeks into the semester. One has heard most teachers saying that the child is doing well, whether the child had scored marks or not. In one such meeting I asked the teacher as to what he meant by saying that the child is doing well. He said that the child is doing well to his ability and your effort. My mind went back to the parent-teacher meeting we had back home where it was more of a slew of complaints than any compliments.

After an important presentation of our son in high school, I inquired as to what the teacher had commented on the presentation. He said that the teachers do not make any comment in the class and all assessment aspects would be covered on the marking sheet. The marking sheet is a rubric given to student well in advance, showing all aspects that would be assessed with complete marking scheme. This leads to more objectivity and less subjectivity. During our Long Gunnery or any Army Course teaching practices, we neither had any rubric nor were aware as to how the session would be assessed. A lot of subjectivity was left for the assessor. Each session ended with a detailed commentary by the assessor, many a times touching a high level of ridicule. The said aim of such commentary was that it would bring out the lessons for others, but at what cost?

Our course-mate from the National Defence Academy, Air Vice Marshal TD Joseph, VM, VSM, visited us in June 2016.  At the end of his stay with us, I asked him as to what he is taking with him back to India.  He said that the lesson he learnt in Canada was that in case everyone did everything correctly and the best way they could, this world would be a great place to live.  He was convinced that in case everyone followed the rules and regulations, life would be much better, and breaking rules lead to corruption and chaos, causing inconvenience to one and all.