Sunday, March 27, 2005

Look what the kids are reading...

A student who beds his professor’s daughter. Three friends who spend nights atop the institute roof smoking grass, drinking vodka and listening to Pink Floyd, while others cram voluminous textbooks. Guys between whom the four letter word flows with great gusto, together with other ingenious expletives that, at best, should be avoided here. Does not really sound like a “compulsory reading” for 12 year olds, does it?

Shocking, you think? A matter of fact, say Class VII students at Step by Step High School who have read Five Point Someone (FPS), a recent bestseller by Chetan Bhagat. The book delves into the lives of three below-average students at IIT Delhi – five pointers on a GPA of 10 – who are nearly expelled from the institute. Beyond that, the book deals with issues such as growing up as adolescents and surviving a “system”.

School authorities say the reaction from students has been “absolutely brilliant”. “In fact, some even called up late in the night to thank me for choosing the book,” adds Swati Periwal, who read the book with the children. While most elders would appear appalled at certain extracts, the students are “cool” about it.

Like Mansi Singh. “It is on page no 170,” she says, referring to the page that features the books only sexual intercourse. “Nothing in this book is untrue. It is all about what actually happens in this world,” adds Ayan Agarwal, another Class VII student. “Let us not be very prudish,” seconds Manisha Razdan, an English teacher at the school. “Why put our children in protected citadels? The world is moving very fast and we have to move at the same pace so that our children do not get a cultural shock,” she adds.

This gradual change, something many elders overlook or brush under the carpet, even “shocked” Chetan Bhagat, the writer, who was present at the school recently. “But when I met the children I realised that kids today are very different from how I was at 12. After all I was at that age around 18 years ago. That is a big generation gap, and times have changed,” wrote Bhagat in an email.

“Children today are very intelligent and have good judgement. They are exposed to promos of skin-flicks on television everyday but it does not mean they will become that way. In fact, I think FPS helps them put these things in a realistic perspective,” he added. The debate about where we could draw the line may never cease but one thing is certain – it is time to chuck the stork and baby theory out of the window. It will not save you the blushes any longer.

One of my reports for Hindustan Times

3 Comments:

Anonymous cb said...

hi- chetan here. great article. when and which edition did it appear in? thanks a lot!

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