In the run-up to Earth Day this year, April 22, I was the most terrified person on earth. For a few nights, the mind conjured a picture of a loony, gigantic globe rolling my way, flattening me — as I was torn apart for Project Earth ideas by a bunch of anxious mothers whose little darlings had just lifted their first schoolbag.
Let’s bare the mystery. I’m no Einstein. I am, however, known in my circles as the girl with what you may term the Einstein touch, a fancy nomenclature for my teaching skills which enable me to prepare a child’s fertile mind so that he or she develops a robust repertoire of intellectual skills. Neighbourhood legend has it that I taught a five-year-old about the continents, and when he interrupted his teacher, rearranging them by land area, she blushed a pomegranate red.
I’d have little hesitation if my prized Einstein touch was to be used in a correct manner with my tutorage helping the little ones in implementing their ‘own’ ideas as they make the projects on their ‘own.’ The real irritants are the occupied-to-the-last-grey-cell mothers who have time for everything other than to stimulate their progeny’s mind. They want manufactured ideas for sale so that there isn’t any clutter in the drawing room with industrial gum and fancy paper bits scattered.
As a friend, I’m obliged to help these keen mothers so that they can sport that content smile when they are rid of the homework task in record time and their kids come back to say their chart or project was displayed with aplomb in the class. This insidious deadening of young minds that is being worked upon under every roof, where the kid is put to sleep while his mother arranges for his homework (by harassing the likes of me, or worse still, by throwing wads of currency) is irreversible.
When they grow up, these same children will be addicted to other forms of spoon-feeding, namely coaching institutes, readymade notes and all those agents which inter the spirit of self-learning in depths of passivity.
These same parents put their kids in state-of-the-art private schools. Government schools are crossed out because of lack of dazzling amenities and the famed tardiness of teachers.
A huge slice of the monthly income is spent to make sure the kid gets the best of everything when it comes to education. When finally it is time for him to absorb the knowledge that has been so painstakingly brought to him, the parents create blockades by veering them towards readymade ideas and time saving-methods. While they want him to flower into an Einstein, they are actually conditioning him to a crutch.
Discovering through the joy of doing is the hallmark of good learning. The likes of John Dewey and other pragmatists batted over a century ago for its inclusion in the school curriculum. The all-important role of the learner in the construction of knowledge has been stressed upon by the National Curriculum Framework as a salient feature of the teaching-learning process. Fortunately, we are living in times where these favourable changes are being introduced in many classrooms. Unless parents step away and let their wards face the battle, these efforts will only be counterproductive.
So, teach your kids to walk, not lean.