This happened during the Second World War in North West Russia. It was a competition which occurred every 5 years. The competitors would enter a large arena through a door and exit through the other door. The aim was to exit the arena the earliest. There was no roof so the spectators in the gallery could see the competition from a height. The path to the exit door was never easy; it had obstacles to test the competitor’s talents. The lucrative prize was huge and everyone dreamed of it.
The students who had the talent to run fast would enter the competition; they would compete in mock drills and train vigorously for 5 years till they enter the real competition and achieve glory.
Little Johnny was a dreamer. He would always look at the sky and the stars and dream of flying among them. He always loved to float like the cloud and wished that he had wings. His father also had high dreams but they were more realistic and broken down into measurable tasks and achievements. His father had planned the complete life for his son and made sure that he had the resources for it. So little Johnny was admitted to the best school with the competition training available in the area. Johnny was trained in the school and would always be in the top 10 students in terms of speed. During the leisure time Johnny would go to the roof of the tallest school building and would stretch his arms wide. He would then close his eyes and let the wind whisper in his ears. That was the closes he would come to flying.
When someone in the school found out about his adventure, they closed of the access doors to the roof. That wouldn’t stop little Johnny. He would climb the tall walls to reach the roof. There he found peace and happiness.
His father found a good friend in the college, the competition trainer. The trainer was almost a mirror image of his father. They both began to train Johnny in running fast and tackle objectives to reach the exit door in the game. When Johnny was old enough, he was put to a mock drill. There he would get a taste of what is coming in his way.
When Johnny was put into the drill arena, he was amazed to see the clear sky that day. He looked at the sky and found the swallows flying so high that they looked so tiny. His trainer who was in the gallery of the arena could clearly that Johnny was distracted.
The tall walls were obstructing little Johnny’s full view and he decided to climb them. He stood on the walls of the arena and looked into the sky stretching his arms.
Later that day, Johnny was summoned into the teacher’s room and spanked for his lack of concentration. His father was called and he did what he does best. More spanking. Poor little Johnny was too little to understand the world around him and hideous crime he has committed.
Johnny was again put to the test and again he would climb the walls while the other students would run across the hurdles and pits to the other side. There was fiancé competition meant that not all students played fair, there was pushing and pulling, but the results were all that mattered to the teachers and parents. Little Johnny’s parents were very upset and they went to meet a completion winner to get his advice. The winner took time of their fabulous life to meet and advice the parent as sign of social commitment.
Little Johnny was then put to rigorous training as per the advice. He was given concentration lessons and was asked to perform a step by step analysis. First locate the objective, then the hurdles and infer the best path. Years went by and Little Johnny showed signs of improvement. He began to compete with the top students and occasionally used to be the first to reach the objective. But the dream inside him would not die. He always wanted to fly, fly among the clouds. His father and trainer would make sure that his focus is always on the competition.
The selection day came to decide who represents his province in the competition. Little Johnny was focused and he showed his strength. He reached the goal ahead of the others by a clear margin.
The political scene of Russia was soon changing and the rules of the world changed. It was a more dynamic world and the challenges were extreme and diverse.
Finally the big day of the final competition arrived. There were rumours that the old traditional rules of the game would change. Nobody knew what the change was and what to anticipate. Johnny and the other competitions were chocked to know that the competition would be held at night and not during the day like what was followed for many years.
The moment came when they students were put into the arena under a starry night sky while all the judges, guests and dignitaries watched the show from the stands high in the gallery. Every student down in the arena would search for a sign of the exit while avoiding the hurdles and pits and fences. Johnny’s mind was filled with the advice and steps to take to find the exit. Then they came to know that the arena is not straight like what it used to be. It is a series of maze. A maze so tangled that it’s very easy to get lost and become disoriented.
In all the confusion, little Johnny looked up and to his surprise he found the most beautiful starry night. There were shooting stars and twinkling stars all around. The old dream began to fill his heart. He could not see the end of the Milky Way which ran across the dark sky. He decided to climb the walls while the other students laughed at him. His parents in the gallery were embarrassed by this and others laughed at him. Little Johnny then stretched his arms and closed his eyes. He hasn’t felt so relived. After that he open his eyes and looked down to see the other students scramble to find a clue in the maze. Then he looked at the maze and everything was clear to him. He could see an open door at the end of the arena across the maze. He then walked across the maze over the walls towards the exit. The crowd was stunned and everyone stood silent. There were no words from anyone. Why haven’t they thought of such a way?
Little Johnny then came out of the exit and stretched his arms, looked into the sky and closed his eyes. He was flying.
Ok this might have not happen literally; this drama plays out in our schools and colleges every year. Many of us are trained to answer a set of questions. Anything beyond the book is out of syllabus.
What the board exams currently does is test a student’s ability to remember the exact lines and words from a book and write it on to a white sheet. The world that greets the students after the test is dynamic. Let’s learn to walk over the wall like little Johnny. Step out of the box and the answers will come finding you.