It was in September 2019, 6.30 in the morning, the sun began shining on our faces that were seemingly tired after an hour-long exercise. It is a daily routine, inspired from 5 AM Club of Robin Sharma, where in me and my student team exercise, read (learn) and plan for the rest of the day at our BVRIT playground.

This is the starting point.

As I reached home, surprised to see two little guests waiting at the door. I could see the fear in their eyes and desperation for cover. My daughter was ecstatic to see them. They got strayed and trying finding a new habitat. Without further ado, we fed them with fresh milk.  These two cute kittens devoured the whole milk as if they were hungry for a lifetime. Within no time these two little cats became the cynosure of staff quarters. They started seen around with in the campus many times during the week.

Here is a turning point.

They become so inseparable that people began to feed them almost twice a day. But I was quite discomforting about this routine. I told people including my daughter not to feed them daily and let them find food on their own. Some ridiculed me saying that I am insensitive. And things went on and the two kittens became a part and parcel in the lives of both adults and kids alike.

Few months passed. Summer vacation arrived. All the families left for their native places. The Campus life came to a halt (only very few faculty and security stayed back). The month of May passed. The serenity in the campus is broken with the trickling of faculty and students back. No one expected the tragedy awaiting. Everyone is crestfallen. The two kittens were dead. They died of starvation. More important they died because of US.

Then comes the Awakening Point.

When I enquired with the security about the kitten I was told that they were seen around the staff quarters and hostels daily. But they found them died of starvation in the last week of May. Their inability to earn the food on their own was the reason of their untimely demise. Hunting is a normal, instinctive and natural component of cat behaviour. But the cats improvise this skill on practice. The availability of free and easy food from us deterred these kittens to hone the innate hunting skills that are required for their survival and made them completely dependent on us. My suggestion of not providing food to them daily went on deaf ears.  The kitten would have been alive today had it been people are more sagacious.

The death of two kittens is a rude awakening for all of us especially as parents or teachers when we deal with our children or students. Providing too much comfort, micromanage different aspects of their life, not allowing thinking or deciding on their own and too much focus on success are some of the negative consequences of over-parenting.Parents are overly involved in their child’s progress in life, especially in education and even career decisions. This would kill their ingenuity and freedom of thought.

Many a time, teachers forget that the purpose of education is to not only teach students how to learn but also how to think. They are good at the former and ignored the latter.In the name of handholding they help too much in (rote) learning that they earn high grades but sans common sense, creativity and independent thinking. The role of teachers is to equip students with the fundamental knowledge, tools and skills to acquire knowledge in their own way.

It would be great if teachers motivate students to explore the area of their interest, wider and deeper. Self learning will broaden their critical thinking and problem solving skills that are indispensible for their future success. Curriculum driven learning may earn the student a lucrative job but only when it is supplemented with self learning he or she builds a great career.

We can see our kids as confident and successful leaders of the future only when we allow their innate natural instincts to prevail in acquiring the skills that will help them to face future challenges. An environment which fosters independent thinking and self learning will get them there.

In the end, had it been people listened to me and also allowed that kitten to hunt (earn) on their own and learn the survival skills, we would have been seeing them playing in front of us to our visual delight and our children’s happiness. According to Robert M Hutchins, “the object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives”