Bringing Child-Centrality Back Into Education
Nov 14, 2023
Cartoon credits : Sri V S S Sastry
Ask anybody around you about what they find priceless about children, you will mostly hear one response — their ability to be in the moment. Being happy and joyous, curious and inquisitive, loving and trusting are their default states.
Over time, and with very conscious and intent schooling, we try very really very hard to undo this and then we want to make them into “happy” and “successful” adults. Some children survive all attempts, most others succumb. And we are then left with a whole generation of young adults who are trying to conform hard and fit -in. Again some fit-in and many don’t. Then they struggle through life and some make a success of it, others are still trying to figure it out. And thus the story goes on.
So are we actually celebrating Children’s Day or are we just confining it to a calendarized event. For a certain event or person or a thought to be celebrated, it must first be understood in the right way.
What is the right way? Who is going to show them the right way?
Let’s begin by observing children and how they learn. They have a natural inclination for learning through observation and influence. Leave them in natural learning settings, equip them with simple tools and materials for learning and simply watch them figure out the learning. They will explore, ponder about, and figure out the understanding and learning themselves or with others. The point here is that they have a natural inclination for learning or perhaps they learn naturally from everything they observe, and also in collaborative groups and communities; not in competitive silos.
As a child grows, we shape them with our perceptions and experiences, our opinions and our prejudices, our desires and dreams, our obligations and compulsions so much so that its natural interest, talent and knowledge become our blindspots.
Along the way, what is it that we alter and why?
What we do as adults or educators is, that we wish to direct their learning, make decisions for them, and even more so, quantify and measure what they have learned. In short, in the literal and figurative sense, we make a business of their education. In this process we put them all into a one-size-fits-all mould, more to suit our convenience, throw out all content that cannot be delivered outside our setting, cut, snip, and paste what we think is important and force-feed it into factory settings. Since we are dealing with numbers, the children who survive this ‘push and pull’ arrangement surface the system and are deemed successful, the others are left to fend for themselves. Mind you, there is no guarantee which category produces successful student products- that is the only word I am left with.
I have raised these not-so-new questions once again. The reason being, we are continuing to do things in the same way. It’s important to recentre, if we wish to guide our navigation. Let’s stop, pause, ponder, reflect, and look for alternatives that will recognize that if our children want to swim, we must help them discover and gain the skills of swimming, not crawling, and not running either.
It’s a need to bring education in business but definitely not business in education.
Talent takes a child where it wants to be and a good learning approach takes it to where it ought to be. On this Children’s Day, let’s pledge to invest our thought, intellect and resources for a better, sustainable and unleashed education system over a restricted, branded and opinionated schooling.