With degrees considered as a sure shot ticket to success, dropping out of school or college is always frowned upon. But, if you trace back mankind’s history, it is replete with examples where people have not only achieved their goal but also made it big without a college degree.
One of the reasons for their success is the attitude and approach of such people. For them, academics was never the only means to gain an education. They saw the entire world as a learning platform.
While there is no denying that academics lead to positive impacts in today’s competitive world, there is a flip side too. The high expectations and pressures on students to score an A in every test possible often lead them into depression and in some cases self-destruction.
If you think this doesn’t affect them, ask yourself why there’s a student committing suicide every hour in India. Since childhood, academics have been the measure of success; and failure has meant disgrace.
Textbooks teach children about those who made it big without following textbooks. If success was achieved by a degree, how did Steve Jobs create the biggest ever technology firm after dropping out of college?
33-year-old, Kathir Arumugam from Tamil Nadu, is not far from the mark either. Though a school drop-out, he is designing schools textbooks for the State Education Board!
After his father passed away, Kathir dropped out of school when he was in class nine to support his mother. Kathir chose to work in the lowest rungs of organisations in the creative field.
He would serve tea at a graphic designing studio and in between learn a thing or two from the employees.
“We lived on a hand-to-mouth existence as my mother was the sole earner, I wanted to help her, but at the same time, not give up on my dreams, so I found a mid-way,” Kathir, a native of Arachalur, a small village near Erode tells The Better India.
From painting houses for Sri Lankan refugees, working as a construction labourer to delivering newspapers, Kathir worked hard to buy the necessary stationery for articulating his art. From his savings, he also joined graphic designing classes.
“I knew that I would be tied up in jobs and eventually forget my talent. I took conscious efforts to save money and time. A person does not become an artist overnight. It takes days of practice to master the art,” he says.
From 8 pm-5 am, he would work in a night shift and at 6 am, attend the class. He travelled every day for 20 kilometres from the class.
Finally, in 2018, Kathir found his breakthrough after receiving a call from IAS officer and Collector T Udhayachandran from the Tamil Nadu Text Book Corporation.
“It was a proud moment for me when the State Board approached a school dropout to design school textbook covers.,” he chuckles.
Kathir has so far designed over 400 book covers for students from Class 1-12.
When asked his secret behind designing attractive covers, Kathir answers, “It should have a message disguised under the creative image. It is not very difficult to design such covers. I only have to think like a child while doing so.”
Kathir wishes to start his own art classes to help children who cannot afford expensive sessions.
Academics aren’t unnecessary, but they aren’t the only yardstick of success either. The next time you push your child harder for better marks, question yourself first. Are you pushing him into a rat race, or would you rather see him find his own way to success?
This story is part of The Stereotypeface Project, an initiative by The Better India that challenges 26 stereotypes, which continue to exist even today. We are showcasing these stereotypes through all the letters of the English language alphabet.
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