Pre-School: I learnt the alphabet and dozens of nursery rhymes before I was three. I spent the year being horrified at the prospect of being beaten up like the other kids in school were.
Nursery: I never asked what the “guardian” in guardian angel stood for. I won a prize for Prayer.
Kindergarten: I never questioned the logic behind addition. I got all my sums right.
First Grade: I knew the names of all the Indian states and capitals in alphabetical order. I could not place any on a blank map.
Second Grade: I topped my class. I got beaten up by my Hindi teacher for pretending to write with a broken pencil. I was doing so because I was scared she would beat me up if I asked my neighbor for a sharpener.
Third Grade: I learnt an 80-word answer for geography by heart, without understanding a word. I topped my class.
Fifth Grade: I wrote a long speech but never had the courage to go up on stage and deliver it. I gave it to my friend to speak out. Both of us topped the class.
Eighth Grade: My English teacher dictated answers in class, confident that we could not write a sentence on our own. She broke down and wept on the last day of school, because nobody in class could describe what a verb was. I topped English that year.
Tenth Grade: Nine teachers told us on the first day of class that our scores this year would determine the course of the rest of our lives. I believed all nine of them. I had a nervous breakdown during the Social Sciences pre-board exam. I hated the subject, and spent most of my study hours on it. I got great grades that year.
Twelfth Grade: I wrote a long poem that contained all the correct numerical answers for all Physics experiments. I learnt this poem by heart. I never slept Wednesday night or ate on Thursdays, because I dissected rats that day. My rat dissection got so good that it was put up for the whole class to see. I got full marks in all Science practical exams.
BA First Year: I scored 45% on my first assignment: an essay on what tragedy was. I was mortified, till I was told it was the highest in class. I never did any research on any text. I topped the university.
BA Final Year: I studied the bare minimum number of texts required to answer the papers. I graduated with honors. And with 95% attendance.
MA First Year: I worked afternoons and did not even apply for library membership. I did not read any books that were not on the syllabus. I wrote my papers in 90 minutes while the class struggled to complete them in 180. I had nothing to say. I topped my class. Half the English department of Delhi University applauded as I received a prize.
MA Final Year: I dropped all the texts I could do without studying. I never read of a prescribed author’s other work. Writing papers took just 60 minutes now. I still managed to complete the MA second in my class.
If any of these “achievements” make you think I’m showing off, you are wrong.
Consistently doing well at exams is the symptom of a disease. The disease is conformity.
I am a monster of the education system. It promotes weasels like me.
I am the reason students should no longer be taught. They should be left to learn.