To make this a reality we must have a clear approach towards education
Education is aptly defined as something that teaches young people how to make a life and not merely how to earn a living. To make this a reality we must have a clear approach towards education. Thoughts that follow highlight some issues related to modern day education considered important by us.
We all are aware that our children are expected to play a major role as leaders at some point of time in future. But more importantly what we do need to understand is how to prepare them to discharge this role efficiently and effectively. By the time our children step into the real world, ready to take on the challenges, we would be half way through the third decade of this century; a time, by which India would have not only emerged as a strong nation but established itself as one of the world leaders. The trends of last two decades definitely point in this direction. So, our children will be working in an environment where they would often be called upon to face critical situations calling for bold decisions. Unlike the earlier generations that were generally led, the future generations would be expected to lead. And we as parents and teachers need to understand this and prepare our children to accept these onerous responsibilities. Having said that, the next question that arises is how do we do it? It’s this question that we, the parents and the teachers, ought to address together. That leads us on to the next point.
First change we ought to bring about is in our own thought process. To begin with, we have to accept that education is a joint responsibility between the parents and the teachers. There is no scope for ‘we’ and ‘you’ divide here. It has to be ‘we’, ‘us’, and ’ours’ when it comes to child’s education and development. Education is a continuous process that occurs at all places and at all times. We are all teachers and students rolled into one. Only the format of teaching and learning changes. Sometimes it is formal like in the classroom, and at other times it is informal like when discussing certain issues in the comforts of our drawing room or while watching a movie in a multiplex. So, besides keeping our own knowledge level high at all times, we, as parents and teachers must work hand in hand to ensure that the knowledge base of our children is widened all the times, through every interaction.
A lot has been said and written about the stress and strain caused by the modern education system. It is true that all of us like to work and live in a totally stress-free environment. But can we progress if we do not have ambition, quest for success, desire to do better, newer heights to scale or set deadlines to meet? And if we consider these things essential for the growth, as indeed they are, then there will be some stress. Without stress, we will make very little progress. So, let us accept that there will be some stress occasionally for the children too. Please consider this as the process of toughening up for the adult life. Yes, of course, we must strive to ensure that children must be stress free at all times. But a few occasional digressions should not rankle us. Instead, when the child complains about it we must comfort him and tell him to ready himself to face more such situations in adult life when we, parents and teachers are not around to guide or shelter him. It’s a tough call I know, particularly for the parents, to both, accept and implement. But do mull over it and consider this as a ‘necessary evil’.
Children’s likes and dislikes are prone to constant changes. They keep changing from situation to situation and people to people on daily basis. Sometimes even on hourly basis. This is due to continuous development of their power to perceive and think, and has very little to do with extraneous factors. We must observe such changes over a longer period of time before reacting strongly to any situation out of emotions. We must not be in any hurry to judge and condemn anybody over an incident or an isolated happening. Developing a high emotional quotient is as important as developing high intelligence quotient.
Child’s growth in various areas is not necessarily uniform in its intensity or pace. A particular child may show rapid and substantial progress in one field of learning and not do so well in another, whereas another child may show diametrically opposite results simultaneously. And yet, this situation may get reversed in a short period. Now if you compare their respective performances you are bound to draw conclusions that will be detrimental to development of both such children. Please remember they are two separate individuals and will therefore grow independent of each other. So please don’t ever compare them with one another even if they are identical twins.
In today’s commercial world there is a tendency to look at education as a ‘commodity’, a buy and sell entity. It isn’t so! Education is a process that goes on throughout one’s life and occurs at all places. You pay for the lessons that you learn, through your sweat and at times even your blood, something that money cannot buy. We call accumulation of such lessons learnt as experience. This experience is what stands you in good stead while tackling live problems in future life. And experience cannot be bought. Indeed, there is no scope for trading in money here. So please shun those who treat education as a commodity.
Parents and teachers are equally responsible for the child’s growth. There would be occasions when either parents or teachers would not be happy or satisfied with the progress of a particular child. They may have differing views on teaching/learning lessons. This is absolutely fair. The best way to resolve such issues is by sitting together and finding an effective solution. Understanding each other’s view points and difficulties faced will definitely lead to such happy solutions. Criticizing each other particularly in presence of child will make child lose respect for both. So frequent meetings between parents and teachers are called for. There isn’t any other effective way either.
Inculcating competitive spirit among the children and acquiring a cutting edge is upper most in the minds of quite a few parents. That is understandable! A section of the society believes that the ultimate winner must have killer instinct and a ‘win at all cost’ attitude. While habit of winning is the most desirable habit to form, camaraderie, team spirit and compassion towards fellow human beings are equally important qualities to possess as well. They too lead to success. The time spent at the school is the time to acquire all these qualities. That is why we have individual contests and team competitions that are won and lost in equal measure by all. At our school, we teach the children to be magnanimous in victory and strong in defeat and take both the outcomes in their strides as fair results while treating defeat as a step towards success. Teachers and parents need not blame one another for the failure of the child or for that matter indulge in the game of ‘one-upmanship’.
Rapidly developing technology has penetrated every walk of life. It has made pace of life a bit more hectic while bringing even difficult tasks within realms of feasibility. Proliferation of Internet and cell phones has shrunk the world and made all the information easily accessible. This augurs well for learning. But it has a flipside too. Such an easy access sometimes leads you onto information that is hugely damaging. The young and callow minds of our children may get corrupted drawing them into dangerous and life-threatening actions. This is a huge negation of advantages offered by modern technology. We as parents and teachers need to closely monitor use of such technological resources by our children. That calls for constant interaction and discussion with our children over this to make them understand the benefits and pitfalls. This will guide them through the turbulent phase of adolescence.
We have an excellent lot of children in our school and they are lucky to have parents who are supportive all the time. Our teachers too are a dedicated lot. And I am confident that our children will go on to discharge their role as leaders of tomorrow with great degree of efficiency and élan and do us all proud. All that we need to do is work together and show more understanding of each other’s roles, responsibilities and constraints for the sake of the child. Therein lies everyone’s happiness.