Letter to Bill Gates about my experiments with education delivery

Letter to Bill Gates about my experiments with education delivery
Letter to Bill Gates about my experiments with education delivery
Letter to Bill Gates about my experiments with education delivery

I just read a great post on Bill Gates website and a copy of it on Linkedin.

It was about the efforts that lower colleges make on students (at-risk students) who are not so bright as the ivy students. So I thought that I surely must share my experiences about my struggles with not so bright students for the last 20 years.

Bill, I am not sure if this will get to you, but here goes.

A lot of students who want to pursue arts with passion are pursuaded by parents, teachers, friends and relatives to give up their passions and turn to other vocations that are termed lucrative and with long term salaried options. Finally when after their degrees they are still at sea, the parents (well relatives and friends have already deserted by this time) reluctantly sometimes agree but put a lot of riders. The parents (usually not well off) usually have already exhausted their resources by this time in pushing their kids in other careers, and are now out of money. Mostly, by this time some students are depressed and some others may have taken to drugs, whereas the rest have already given up on their dreams. Now these students with a broken heart and a run down spirit land up with small setup institutes like us (and even that is lucky, since there would be a lot of fly-by-night institutes too) and we face an uphill task getting them into the right mode to learn. Getting the spirit back is the main task, learning the skills become secondary at this stage. I have been doing this for 20 years!

I was trying to convert the energy of the ocean into something useful while watching people derive energy by just pouring gas into their tanks.

I have been struggling with the students like the ones you mentioned (at-risk students), but with even more constraints. There was no degree, no backing by formal education system, just a course. A lot of times I felt I was trying to convert the energy of the ocean into something useful while watching people derive energy by just pouring gas into their tanks. I have not given up, not yet, though it’s been 20 long years. I have tried many experiments like taking motivational lectures, reasoning, cajoling, requesting, even sometimes picking them from their homes, talking to parents, and getting them on path (I train in design and even today most parents across the world loathe at their kids going for design – so in the end a wrecked and tortured soul lands up at my doorstep and his battle ends with his enrollment – he has no energy left to study).

For many kids, the battle ends with being allowed their enrollment – but it leaves them with no energy left to study

I went ahead and thought I could change the mindset of all people of at least one country – India that is – and i started answering all student questions in the field of design – and this continues even after 6 long years of answering about 7-8000 questions. Well even the portals I used (to answer questions on) were never supportive of my concerns for these kids, all they cared was for was the marketing dough. Kids call me and ask advice at all odd hours, and I personally talk to them even in middle of meetings since it’s about their life. I am ready to miss out on my friends, and their banter, remain invisible of whatsapp groups and facebook, just so that all the time I can provide to these students. I am not sure till when I can do that, but I hope to be like that till the end.

Last year I started on another experiment – requesting people to contribute their time to get the ivy league school knowledge into the classroom, and yes people have helped. Many artists are now travelling to India to help me in whatever measure they can. Others are contributing online, and even ready to help whereever we get stuck. Even those who cannot help today, have promised to get back. And within a year I have 1000s of artists ready to back me.

I have an idea how this idea can be duplicated for all others like me, I hope I will be around for some more years to see it through. And no, this is not a pitch for money – I don’t want to to do it with money. The idea is not just to get the low end students up in life, it is also to change their parent’s mindset as well as the societal mindset against a career in design. It’s also about convincing great employers paying enough to designers as they pay to their engineers.

I feel a pain when a good designer gives up the struggle and moves to programming or goes for an MBA, or an animator struggles with the heavy burden of work. I do try to help and guide all those who did not study hard early on in their life but still need to live a life.

It’s the concept of money that a lot of students struggle with when they have to take their career decisions and a lot of parents and teachers do not ask them to listen to themselves.

ref: the article that Bill Gates wrote: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Education/What-Makes-a-College-Great

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