Intellectual children are yet to find right platform, feel parents

As it is the case every year, Madurai witnessed a mad rush among parents to admit their two-and-a-half-year-old kids in play schools during this Vijayadasami (considered an auspicious day to begin academics) too. And therefore it turns out to be a perfect time to discuss issues revolving around nurturing children and addressing their requirements.

D. Kalidevashankar, a Development Officer with Life Insurance Corporation of India here, is a father of triplets born one after the other with a time gap of 30 seconds.

The kids K. Rakshika, K. Srivathsan and K. Gnaanesh are now seven years old and their entire family is astonished by the distinct and contrasting characteristics exhibited by the three children.

“While my daughter, the eldest among the three, is a perfectionist interested in art forms like dance and music which come naturally to her, the second child Srivathsan displays amazing analytical skills coupled with a good memory. The last of the three, Gnaanesh, is good in academics and has a penchant for being the topper in whatever he does,” Mr. Kalidevashankar says.

Nodding in agreement with him, his wife T. Kalyani, a higher secondary school teacher who had given up her job to look after the three children, says that Srivathsan is not very bright in studies despite having the ability to remember names of people he had met years ago and finding out resemblances between two unconnected things.

“After having spent seven years with the three children, I have realised that no two children can be alike even if they are born together. The abilities, talents and characteristics of every child are unique. The children must be nurtured distinctively and provided with right opportunities and platforms suitable to their individual talent,” she says.

Agreeing with her, S. Banumathi (name changed on request), mother of a boy in Class V, says that her son too has skills similar to that of Srivathsan. “My son began reading books at the age of three. He has an extraordinary vocabulary and displays almost all characteristics related to a ‘gifted child,’ a term used to refer to children with intellectual ability higher than average.

“Unfortunately, he could not adapt to the environment in regular schools. He felt bored in class, misbehaved with teachers and co-students and ended up being branded as a ‘hyper active child.’ The situation turned worse that I had no choice but to admit him to a residential school for which I now pay a fee of around Rs. 2.7 lakh per annum,” she says.

K. Lalitha, a 67-year-old retired government schoolteacher with 30 years of professional experience, says that she was awestruck with the education system in the United States during her recent visit to New Jersey.

“There, children are grouped into different categories such as high performers, gifted children and those with creative abilities and imparted with specialised training.

“Special schools have been established to hone the skills of ‘gifted children.’ The pattern of syllabus and teaching methodology in those schools are completely different from regular schools. It is time for us to introduce such system in our country too rather than treating all children alike and making them undergo the same pattern of education,” she says.

Batting in favour of such a new education system, S. Santhanam, a 72-year-old retired private sector employee, says that he too believes that all children should not be forced into the same pattern of education without any consideration for the individual abilities of a child. “It is unfair to expect an intellectually brilliant child to mug up from text books and score high marks in examinations.

“The test for their abilities should be totally different and they should be gauged on the basis of their reasoning and analytical skills. Otherwise, it would be like forcing them to be one among the herd. It has happened to my grandson and I could not do much because the education system in our country is monotonous and not robust,” he grumbles.

Chief Educational Officer C. Amuthavalli agrees that children with extraordinary intelligence require special care and treatment. She says that the education department continuously advises principals as well as teachers to identify such children and provide them certain challenging tasks which might not be possible for a normal child to perform.