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Gift Children Knowledge!
When I was a young boy at day-school, before the carefree days at boarding school where we were merry in our own lives, there was this classmate’s mum who would call my mum after every little class test and big exam, and compare her daughter’s marks with mine.
She’d be pleased as punch when, invariably, her daughter had scored a point more than I had.
The crucial difference was that while this classmate of mine had spent hours upon hours, in grade 3, cramming textbooks; I had been playing outside, visiting my cousins, and generally ‘living’ my childhood, and had 2nd place to show for it on an exam! I’d take that any day, wouldn’t you?
Be it as a parent to my own daughter, or as an Educator with my students; my approach to teaching and learning is a touch different.
It is much less about boosting memory, more, about boosting knowledge. And knowledge, in my opinion, comes from exposing and exploring interests, passions, and talents; rather than JUST committing prescribed texts, to memory.
If you are, as a parent, guardian, caregiver, or educator, similarly inclined, here are my suggestions for how you can instigate knowledge gain in your wards, rather than pure textbookish information.
EXPOSURE TO EXPERIENCES
Life is the greatest teacher, and we must strive to make children, experience life. Especially if the experiences contextualize what the child is studying; a trip into the forest where they can touch, feel, see the various species of flora and fauna that they read about at school.
Or a river rafting expedition, where they can, aside from the adventure and adrenalin of the experience, also take inlaws of physics in practical terms – these outings and the learnings therefrom, will make a lasting impact and stay with children a lot longer than something they have ‘studied’ but not necessarily been ‘taught’.
The essential difference between reading & living a concept is studying vs learning. Based on the interests of children, curate experiences that will make them practically imbibe knowledge.
The fact remains, books are our window to the world. Especially when it might be people, places, and things we can’t always experience at the drop of a hat; books serve as the perfect way to explore.
They present insights into a wide variety of life’s wonders through an engaging, immersive and potent means that develop the imaginations of readers. It is one thing to watch a video based on say, Space Travel.
But to read an Asimov book that brings together science fiction, fantasy, as well as boosts general knowledge of the reader, all in a fun, creative way, will always endow the child with a much broader knowledge-base than a video where precious little is left to his or her imagination.
We must therefore encourage children to read more, and read at libraries where borrowing and sharing are propagated, rather than outright purchase of books.
With families fast shrinking, joint families diminishing and tiny nuclear families the norm; it has become all the more important to make a concerted effort to instigate cultural knowledge within our children. Interaction with elders in the family, grandparents, should be frequent and encouraged.
This gives kids a sense of belonging, an understanding of familial history and an appreciation of what, where and whom they come from. Similarly, at a broader level, exposure to national history, the rich culture of the home country, through Museum visits, trips across different towns and cities, and attending important events like the Republic Day Parade, for instance, makes children aware of their identities.
Without this, there is an imminent fear of a new generation of young people growing up in a globalized bubble where one can’t tell them apart from the millions of others brought up on an Americanized diet of popular culture and propaganda that is not even their own!
In order for young people to develop into mature, aware and sensitive individuals who respect man, woman, planet, alike; we as elders must ensure that we correct our own behaviour first, and set the right examples, at home and elsewhere.
Children seldom learn through instruction, they imbibe what they see and observe at home, and make it their own. If a child sees a father disrespecting the mother, that will likely become the child’s way as well.
If a child observes the parents caring for animals, that is a huge asset that the child will imbibe, too.
We must therefore do our best, consciously, to be good role models to our children.
If we want a society free of gender bias, for violence to come down, for rapes to not exist; a robust emotional education is the only sure-shot answer.
Finally, travel. Travel with your kids when they are young, and as they grow up, encourage them to travel by themselves.
It doesn’t even have to be some long, expensive trip across Europe. By travel, I simply mean, get out. Experience. Assimilate.
Travel can be one of life’s greatest teachers. Getting lost on a Trek up a mountain can, for instance, be one of those experiences that shapes the character of a young person, make him or her strong, confident, a leader.
A little trip to the local blind school can develop a deep understanding and sensitivity towards differently-abled people.
The most modest little trip to the nearby handicrafts village can fuel a life-long passion for design.
My simple point is, inspiration, awareness, and motivations abound. And they are out there, waiting to strike and be discovered, if only, we get our kids, to get out more.
Even a slightly experiential outlook towards education will make children infinitely more aware and smarter than being restricted to bookish learning.
Not only will young people become more aware, but they will also evolve into much more interesting individuals who will naturally develop varied interests, multi-faceted personalities, and ultimately grow into adults who will make for more well-rounded and ‘whole’ people.
At the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather that your child is ‘happy’ than be a 100% student with a high-paying job who is miserable on the inside?