Supriya Joshi
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Shah Rukh Khan: When we as parents, elders, teachers, uncles and aunts ask children what they want to be when they grow up, we want to hear answers we are comfortable with — like doctor, engineer, MBA or maybe in some homes actor, singer or cricketer. In a nutshell, we want our children to be successful.

Yet, there is a Mumbai-based lady, a mother of two, Supriya Joshi, whose dream for her children was just that they grow up and no matter what they do, they stay happy. She chose a path for her children’s education that most parents would not even imagine, let alone choose.

We welcome Supriya Joshi, the one who thought out of the box.

Supriya Joshi.

(Applause)

Supriya Joshi: Today I am here with a lot of self-confidence, to share the story of my happiness with you all through this platform. But there was a phase in my life, when I neither had this self-confidence nor this happiness.

If there is one memory of my childhood I remember clearly, it is of me being a weak, lazy and a useless student. I never paid attention to studying, and because of this very reason, I would end up hurting people close to me. Everyone in my family was very well-educated so they wanted me to do well in studies and become something too. To fulfill their wish, I joined a course in Masters of Computer Application, but to me it was torture rather than an education. And often I would bunk classes to sit in the library where I started reading books on child development. I became so interested in this subject that I thought that I would at least attain enough expertise on this subject to be able to raise my children well.

When I received my MCA Degree, it was a chance for me to make a very good career, but I had no desire to pursue it. And yet again I let down my loved ones. I realized that I ended up growing only to remain the same a lazy, weak and useless person. When I got married I felt, the burden of family and society that I was carrying around for so many years, was finally off my head. I left all work and gave my all to the happiness of my family. But instead of being happy, slowly the belief that I could do something in life started dying inside me.

I eventually went into serious clinical depression. I gave birth to two daughters. It was the happiest occasion for my family, but that was the toughest phase in my life. I always wanted to be a good mother, but when the time came I was completely incapable of even looking after them. With regular treatment from doctors and a long struggle with this ailment, I eventually overcame it. With this illness, life in a way gave me a chance to understand the importance of happiness.

At such a tender age, we hand over reading and writing to children with sole aim of success. There on, there is an addiction to run this rat race of success. Keeping happiness on the back burner becomes a habit. Even if they manage to make a successful career, happiness still eludes them. I did not agree with this idea of success. Whether it is studies or life, if it loses its liveliness, then it becomes worthless.

And that is why our daughters at the age of 12, left school and decided to turn to home-schooling. Malvika and Radha did not even take the board exam, which is usually considered a must for a good career. The method we adopted for learning is not a fool-proof studying method. This journey was full of difficulties for us, but by encouraging my girls to follow this path, I made a noble attempt in making them realize that learning can also be a source of happiness.

(Applause)

During home schooling, whatever Malvika and Radha learnted was not to pass any exam or obtain any degree but to fulfill their desire to learn about that subject. And yet they are on their way to successful careers today. Without even looking at her high school degree, when Massachusetts Institute of Technology one of the world’s topmost universities, gave Malvika admission, many people congratulated us.

(Applause)

What is important to note here is that, all those people noticed our success only in that college admission. When parents approach me, to ask for my success mantra for their kids, I feel extremely helpless. When they do not understand the concept of happiness, how can I teach them some magic trick for success?

As far as I am concerned I had come to believe that I am foolish, but I never understood why. A few months back through a clinical check up, I got to know that I suffer from profound reading dyslexia, which makes it difficult to read even the simple alphabet. So I was neither lazy nor useless. When I encouraged my girls to leave school and start learning on their own, it was only because I could not separate success from happiness. And now even after so many difficulties, following such an unusual course of action, if I can achieve the two together then why can’t you?

Thank you so much. SRK: I would just say that if you are lazy, useless and foolish then every woman in our nation should be lazy, useless and foolish like you.

(Applause)

I do not get this and am sure some of our viewers would also like to know: Can you tell us more if any one wants to pursue home schooling in India?

SJ: If you want to pursue homeschooling, I would just say don’t. There is no support in India and it is an uphill task to ... let’s say in grade 6 if the child wants to change back from homeschooling to formal school, then that door is completely shut in this country.

So really think it through. But in case you want more information, we have started a support group which is spread nationwide now called Swashikshan, Indian Association of Homeschoolers.

SRK: Thank you so much Supriya for coming here.

Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause)