Sunday, April 30, 2006

IIT/JEE Walk by Fire: Not for my Babies

Would you let your kid walk on fire if it increases the chance of cracking IIT/JEE? I remember reading this a few days back. I was disgusted and thought I would blog about it. But then grading took over my life and it slipped out of mind, but just so. Then I was browsing through Abi's blog and came to this article again. It makes me hopping mad.

Apparently, Quest Tutorials (based in Delhi) arranged 'a firewalk' (yes no kidding, literally) to remove barriors from the mind of the future JEE aspirants that join their coaching.

Before I do anything else, let me give you a blog link to Quest Tutorial's own blog. I have sat through one session (because it was held at a place where I used to work) of this chap Anuj Khare and I thought the session was decent. There were times when I argued, like he was going ga-ga about 'The Alchemist' and I was telling him I was not that impressed by the book. But never did I think the guy was associated with JEE coaching and all.

We do not know if parents were informed or not about this trial by fire as reported, but let me say more as a parent/guardian of my two nephews. My elder nephew has written JEE this year again and he and his younger brother live with us. My younger nephew has declared he is going to study commerce and it is fine by us. The elder one wanted to give JEE and took a year drop, that too is fine by us. If he gets through, good for him. If he doesn't he will do other things and I am sure he will do even better in life. He has worked like a maniac and I feel it is more than enough, irrespective of he gets through or not. I do not want to see him this stressed for another day. For us, and hopefully for him, it is just another exam, a tough one, but they (the younger one too, or if he reads this, he will blackmail me for favoring the elder one) are the apple of my eyes, irrespective of he gets through JEE or not. I am only worried about one thing, that he will take it to his heart (at least for a while) if he does not get through and I (we) have a tough job of making him forget it. If he gets through, I will remind him not to buy all the hype about being the 'cream of the country' and all that crap. I would like it if he just continue being the normal guy he is, with a good sense of humor.

If anyone told me that a coaching institute would introduce 'a walk by fire' to aid him in this process (as if there is already not enough madness involved!) I would get hopping mad. Leave my kids alone! Walk by fire? Are we crazy? What for? To get through JEE? Are we (the parents) mad? And, heaven forbid, if this exercise was done without my knowledge, as said in the newspaper story, I would be out of my mind.

And if it is as easy as the owners of the Quest Institute claim, if it can be reduced to some trick, I do not want my babies to be reduced to 'performing monkeys' for the sake of sacred JEE.

For my kids, aur bhi hain raahen.


Blogger Falstaff said...

hmmm. I'm not sure I know what you're so outraged about. I mean, fair enough, so if parents weren't notified (and assuming that a good proportion of these students are under 18) that's wrong, but we're not talking about children here - presumably the young adults involved had a choice and no one was having a gun put to their head. So it's hardly a human rights violation. And yes, the idea that the fire-walk will somehow help make it through JEE seems patently ridiculous, but fire-walks are not that uncommonly used as a motivational exercise (I know several companies that have done firewalks for their employees).

I'm not saying that it's not pointless and silly - I had a good laugh about it when I first heard - I'm just curious to know why you ended up being "hopping mad".

4/30/2006 9:25 PM  
Blogger Mridula said...

You know I am hopping mad because I can imagine my nephews getting caught in this situation.

4/30/2006 9:57 PM  
Blogger Vinod Khare said...

I wanted to write something about this - it makes me hopping mad too. But end sems going on. Perhaps once they are over.

4/30/2006 10:46 PM  
Blogger Mridula said...

All the best for your end sems, and do write about this after your exams are over, Vinod.

5/01/2006 9:56 AM  
Anonymous ?! said...

Yep, several companies do this fire walk thingie as a "fear fighter" approach.

However, if it was done without keeping the parents informed, sue the pants off them, I would say.

Whether some parents/kids choose to have the IIT as a be-all or not is their call. ( Just as my urging them to get real is).

But the IIT JEE coaching institutes are something else.See those in AP : the routine (starting at 4.30 AM, ending at 930 pm, one Sunday (morn to eve only) out in a month, and same also allotted for visiting ... it would have made concentration camps proud. And parents spend time and money doing this to their kids.

5/01/2006 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anirudh said...

I don't have anything to say. I've seen too much stupidity when it comes to the JEE.

5/01/2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger karmic_jay said...

Umm firewalks! Whatever I guess. Silly gimmick I thought though.
But these kids study all the time. My nephew in India just finished his 12th grade exams. He is now studying for or giving a bunch of other entrance exams none of which I am familiar with.
I hardly get to see him when I visit cos he is always busy with one of these. He is good kid though, well behaved and all sharp with his studies but there is a life and a world out there ya know?

5/01/2006 6:04 PM  
Blogger Swapna said...

It is ridiculous to think that people are walking over fire for help in getting through IIT-JEE.

Honestly, is IIT-JEE really worth all of this halla-gulla? It's a great school and one of the best but there's just too much pressure to be the best and get to the best these days.

I think we should just let them relax and enjoy life. This is the best time of their lives and they're throwing it all away.

5/02/2006 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Tarun said...

If this is the case then all those jogi or madaris who walk on fire can crack JEE easily...

5/02/2006 5:57 AM  
Blogger kuffir said...

yes, aur bhi hain rahein.

5/02/2006 11:32 AM  
Blogger Mridula said...

?! I agree with yoour statement 100% "Whether some parents/kids choose to have the IIT as a be-all or not is their call. ( Just as my urging them to get real is)."

Anirudh, I can imagine.

Jay, even my elder one studies all the time, but hopefully things will change now, till (if) he decides to write CAT :)

Swapna, you have put it exactly right.

Tarun and Kuffir, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

5/02/2006 11:40 AM  
Blogger Abi said...

Given all the 'bhav' surrounding the JEE, it is really, really a pity that it doesn't give scores. The lack of scores leads to a situation wherein some of those who get through let the 'cream of the country' spiel get to their head. On the other hand, those who didn't make it feel dejected (without knowing how well they did in the exam or their relative standing among the exam-takers). It is particularly hard on those very good students (and there is a large number of those) who missed the IIT bus because of the quirks of the exam format (which is really like rolling of dice). If JEE gives a score in addition to (or in lieu of) a rank, these latter students would at least know the margin by which they missed getting into an IIT. I know it's not the same as the real thing, but it would at least be a consolation.

An entrance exam such as the JEE should just be a standardizing exam meant for assessing the relative 'difficulty levels' of different boards. Sadly, none of our entrance exams performs this role.

5/03/2006 3:37 PM  
Blogger rajeev said...

Firewalking is not as dangerous as it sounds (the image is that you may be led through flames - but that is not true). Its mostly on smoking coal which doesn't burn you unless you stand on it for sometime.
As ?! said this technique is used by many as a fear fighting means. As an example, it is the high point of Tony Robbins ( ) workshop. And participants swear by the expereince as a life changing one- it gives them such a huge confidence boost.

5/09/2006 3:32 PM  
Blogger Mridula said...

Rajeev, I believe there is enough madness involved in IIT/JEE exams without introducing firewalking for 16 year olds. At least as a parent I would not consent to it.

5/12/2006 4:46 PM  
Blogger Just do IIT said...

As a skeptic, I would be equally vocal about my opposition of such a stunt by any coaching institute. However, the point to be understood is that most of us here are making unqualified, distant comments about an exercise we have not undertaken.
What we need to do is look at some data.

Are the students complaining?
When so much media covered it, there must be some feedback on the same.

Are the parents complaining that they were not told? Looks like they were all happy.

What was the objective of the exercise?

Has anybody heard of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming)?

Do we know, how many people have done the firewalk worldwide?

Are we again jumping and hopping mad because we have to have an intellectual opinion without really doing enough research on the topic?

6/14/2006 10:40 AM  
Blogger Mridula said...

As a gurdian of two teenaged nephews, I would never give my consent for them to indulge in such a activity and that is the point of this post.

6/14/2006 6:00 PM  
Blogger L Radhakrishna said...

as far as im concerned..even IIT does not produce engineers from india who are really marvellous..the same blaze even i had faced when i was in my class 12th..topped my then wat next..obviously IIT-JEE came in my mind..(though my parents used to tell me that it is not an institution,but one's ability and a bit of hard luck to succeed) i dropped an year..joined FIIT-JEE..and no i was not able to clear..but thing which happened to me was that my eyesights why to spoil ur health uncessarily..seems as if life is much better than IIT

4/16/2007 2:12 PM  
Blogger Krishna said...

I dont think IIT JEE is worth this much.2 years of strenous preparing with a very less probability of securing a seat,wasting time and resources,it is just madness.I dont think a seat in IIT is worth this much hardwork.Even the professors in IIT would agree on it.8th standards have already begun their long ardous struggle for 5years of coaching which includes 3 years IIT Foundation and 2 years of coaching.Wasting their time and resources giving no priority for school studies at all.Is just 4 years in IIT worth 5 years of such a struggle.I believe a seat in IIT is not worth this much.IIT is just an institute in India "The Indian Institute of Technology".Technology, has anyone ever heard of any technology being developed in India.If you take into consideration the entire world India stands almost last in technology.USA, UK and the other countries are far ahead of us.IIT'S have not contributed anything to technological advancement of India.
I am saying all this because I have seen the horrors of this coaching.My brother is now undergoing foundation coaching, he doesnt play and he is not the playful fellow I have seen before,he goes to school in the morning at 7AM and returns at 8PM.I myself preparing for IIT at FIITJEE.It just robs children of their childhood and parents have great ambitions to facilitate it.

7/03/2007 8:10 AM  
Blogger Resonance said...

Hi, I am an ex student of resonance( a well known institute for IIT-JEE coaching in Kota, and I am currently pursuing my btech from IIT Bombay.What I feel is walking on fire or something like that isn't exactly the thing to do.JEE needs a lot of hard work, failures do bring the moral down but then the first success after a failure boosts your confidence and the cycle goes on.I fail to understand where from something like walking on fire even come into the scene.

3/26/2009 2:30 AM  
Blogger libre said...

This post might be outdated nevertheless i think no one has really focused on the issue. Very few 18 year olds know what to do with their life. I mean they might know that they want to be an "IITian" but thats only because everyone around them wants it and its a hot commodity. To prove my assertion i want to ask a simple question. How many 12th standard students choose Computer Science,Mechanical engineering or any other branch with genuine interest in it? I mean if they enjoy mathematics, physics or chemistry shouldnt they pursue their interest in pure sciences. Passion without even slight logic is called Infactuation and i think this is exactly what "Fire Walking" imbues. The only solution i can think of is to assure students appearing for JEE that they are very young and to keep searching for their passion. And i truly believe that no age is too old for pursuing your passion. So instead of following the passion of people around you find your own and work hard for it . I want leave all IIT aspirants with the following thought "The joy is in the journey and not just the destination"

11/23/2009 8:05 PM  

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