Monday, August 17, 2015

Why are children far away from India being exhorted to rise up to the challenge of Indian children habitually staying far ahead in the race?

How much should we retain from our time-tested methods of learning vis-à-vis how much are we actually still holding with us against this great wave of ‘modern methods’ of learning? 

How much should we absorb from the new, modern method of learning that seems to sweep many Indian parents off their feet, without letting go of the proven Indian ways of learning?

While facing the teacher during parent-teacher-meetings, how much are we ready to accept our children’s flaws as we keep nodding fondly at their strengths being highlighted? How much grit do we have to face the truth and do something about it?

Here goes the story of a boy and his mom....

My son became a Fourth Grader and strangely did not want to contest the election for the post of prefect in his class this time. He said he had had enough of it. Chatty that he always has been, the duty of keeping discipline in the class came as an unwelcome item in the list of responsibilities. There were noticeable changes in him that year and the next. Even the way his teachers looked at him was different now. Their eyes did not light up when I attended usual meetings with them for them to brief me up about his progress. His comprehensive profile was mediocre. Something did not seem to be right. Was it a mother’s sixth sense? I gave repeated visits to the school to get reassured by his teachers. They hinted that he is a bit lazy, not forgetting to add that he has very good application skills. “He does get carried away by the pranksters of the class, but is a gem of a boy.”

They did not mention that he could do much better than he was doing. Some almost hinted that I was being a too concerned mother. But something inside me told the red signals were showing and I had to take notice of them. It took me quite some time to realize that teachers had not been forthcoming enough about the transformation in him. It took me a year to realize why this was so. 

My one-year stint as a teacher in a school put things in perspective. In a bid to not hurt parents’ feelings, teachers today are far more polite and do not readily talk about a child’s shortcomings. Moreover, to keep boosting the children, they speak about their strengths, while merely mentioning their weaknesses. Sadly, if your antennae are not ‘up’ to catch the subtle messages they pass on, you miss something important, something that could direct your child right towards the goals you and he have envisioned.

When I look back at my days in school, I can’t help but admire the way my teachers did not mince words. They were not worried about if what they said hurt their pupils’ self-esteem. Bitter words do hurt, but only for the time-being, and help in the long run, provided they are taken in the right spirit. Were my parents hurt if some not-so-encouraging remark was made about me? Definitely they were not. They were concerned. They immediately reprimanded, if necessary. Did my parents doubt my teachers about their opinion of me, if my teachers felt I wasn’t doing my best? No. Were my parents any different from other parents? No.

The rest is in my book Rays and Rains (e-book available at a much lower price).
Rays and Rains

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