There is no failure except in no longer trying
Indeed, on this blue planet we face and read about many great personalities who failed in their examination and then created milestones and exceptional legacies, which most of us can’t even dream of. A few days back JK BOSE results were declared and most of the students emerged with flying colours. Many even scored 500 out of 500. It really needs burning of midnight oil to score 470 or above. It is not everyone’s cup of tea but all it needs is dedication, hard work and consistency.
We should not neglect the hardships relating to study material and internet connectivity that most of students faced. We should not deny the fact that the whole valley was closed almost from 5th August 2019 and after that due to the Covid pandemic. Lakhs of students still appeared in this examination and only a few failed to clear this stage of their academic career. But there are students who weren’t able to compete with the students who got 90%, making some lose heart. We can’t even deny the fact that humans by nature are selfish. Many parents scold their children for not scoring high in the exam, and compare them with children who got more than 490 out of 500. This comparison makes children feel like failures.
Parents should understand that such failure is not the end of life. During a speech at Harvard, Harry Potter author J K Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure. She started by saying that she was once a failure, too. A few years after her graduation, her worst nightmares were realised, she said. In her words:
“I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”
Albert Einstein, too, faced failure in his life. Yet he went on to become the pioneer of the theory of General Relativity. Einstein could not speak fluently till the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. But all his setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 and ultimately he revolutionised the whole of physics. It is all because he believed that “success is failure in progress”.
Jack Ma, one of the richest men in the world and founder of Alibaba, one of the biggest e-commerce companies on this planet, failed in primary school and middle school three times. He also failed his university entrance exam three times. He was rejected by the police department and even by KFC. He applied for Harvard ten times but was rejected each time.
Charles Darwin was considered a failure by even his own father. His parents were forcing him to study medical science but they failed to recognise that Darwin’s interest lay in nature. In 1827 he dropped out of University of Edinburgh, which made his father say, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat catching.” Of course, things didn’t remain that way for Darwin. Today, he is considered as one of the most influential scientific minds of all time. His theories on natural selection and evolution have had a major impact on our understanding of species and life on earth.
Sir Allama Iqbal, about whom it is said that the Muslim world couldn’t produce any philosopher after him, failed in an assistant commissioner’s exam because of an eye disease. He went on to do a PhD from Munich University. He started his PhD in June 1907 and completed it with the thesis, “Development of Metaphysics in Muslim Persia”.
Sadat Hasan Manto, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (Founder of AMU), Charlie Chaplin (king of comedy), Thomas Edison (American inventor), Walt Disney (pioneer of cartoon films, including Mickey Mouse, and creator of the amusement parks Disneyland and Disney World), Abraham Lincoln (US President), Stephen Hawking (Theoretiical Physicist) and so on all faced troubles and sufferings in their life but at the end of the day all of them emerged victorious in their respective fields and then created history and wrote their names in it in golden letters.
What is the moral of these stories? The potential and calibre of a child is not always gauged mechanically and within the matrix of competitive exams. Parents in Kashmir have regrettably reduced their aspirations to certain numbers and want to pit their child against them. We can’t blame parents for it, for this is an outcome of a capitalist society. Professions like Doctor, Engineer, Civil Servant etc, are pursued exhaustively, leaving other domains unexplored. We need good writers who can make us smile, we need archaeologists who can acquaint us with the past, and we need geologists who will study our mother earth. Every society’s culture and aesthetics is sustained by artists, and to create an artist we have to create freedom of thought. The freedom to bloom. Parents have a role to play in making our society better and saving the young from the malaise of depression and suicide.
Parents should try to understand the area of interest of their children, so that their kids could give their best in it, in which they would find a lifetime’s passion. If a child wants to be an entrepreneur, or a critic of western hegemony, a political scientist, a philosopher, then parents should encourage it, rather than repress it.
While the parents’ principal responsibility is the education and the bringing up of their children, the obligation of their children is to study properly. For this they need to be well instructed in how to study. For the development of the child’s personality it is crucial that parents as educators recognise the basic abilities of their child, interests, temperament, and, especially, emotional character. The child’s socialisation is also important in the formation of personality. A child commences to socialise at home, so the relationship between family members teaches him the first lessons of behaviour, which is fundamental to further social development and integration of the child in society.
—The writer is a student of BA Hons in Political Science at Aligarh Muslim University. [email protected]