The Lessons of Struggle

In 3rd grade, once our Social Studies teacher gave us a project to build a model of an object that helped humans survive.

I built a really ugly model of a cave using stones and cardboard, painted with grotesque colors.

The next day, when I reached our school carrying my ‘cave model’, I saw that one of my classmates had a stunningly beautiful model of a boat, so finely built that it would rightfully fit in a museum. His dad had himself come to deliver it safely to school.

Clearly, the boat had been built by my friend’s dad or some craftsman he had engaged. Now, I felt even more ashamed of my ugly-looking cave. My parents, though very supportive, were extremely hands-off. I wondered, “Why couldn’t they help me build something nice?”

However, over the years, I understood that they did the right thing. The only real teacher in life is ‘struggle.’

In fact, good education teaches us by making us struggle, whether to solve a math problem or write a beautiful essay. And when we make kids cram, we replace that noble struggle with a mindless activity.

As we navigate life’s struggles, don’t look for someone who will build you a nice ‘model boat’. Do it yourself, even if badly.

Struggle is not our enemy – it is the only teacher we have.

– Rajan

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