While clearing up one of the shelves at home, I stumbled upon my son Gautam’s “Composite Science” worksheet of Std 3, done in March 2011. After looking through it, I realised why I had saved it.
Q7 Give reasons – The gardener was burning garbage and my mother got angry with him.
Answer: The garbage could have been put in a compost pit and be made into manure.
Gautam’s answer got him a zero. I guess it was not in the teacher’s list of right answers, which must have included something on the lines of “burning causes air pollution”. For practical purposes though, he is perfectly correct. A gardener burning garbage would imply that the garbage is leaves, so his answer offers a solution rather than highlighting the ill effects. The inflexibility of the educational system that prevents it from accepting unconventional responses was quite saddening at that time.
Four years on, when I asked Gautam the same question today, his answer was quite similar, except that he added that the garbage needs to be separated into recyclable and compostable.
Wonder if the teacher’s list of right answers has changed. As for the burning of garbage, yes, every other day at Sports Authority of India campus in Mumbai Gautam’s mother has this discussion with the gardeners. The challenge is to make them change!