Last year I used to give tuition to one of the girls in my neighborhood. She was in primary school and a student at a prestigious school. But every day when she came to my home, she used to say, “Ma’am aaj nahi padhao, school me bahut padhaya (Ma’am don’t teach us today, we’re already exhausted by doing a lot in school today).”
I was helpless as her mother told me, “Mayuri, Gauri ka test hai Kal aur last time marks achhe nhi the so isko padha dena‘ (She has a test tomorrow so teach her as last time she scored very less).” I felt pity for Gauri as she was such a small kid but was bearing a lot of load on her shoulders.
Gauri hated doing mathematics. The reason being the need to mug up tables that had been haunting her from the beginning. Her mother always used to scold her for forgetting the tables. The same situation she had in English Literature too, as she had to rotely learn the question answers and word meanings to score good marks and most importantly to make her mother happy and feel content.
So, I used to do some energizers with her so that she gets motivated to study. Environmental science used to be a good energizer for her. She loved knowing about nature. I gifted her a children’s science encyclopedia that she loved. I felt content being a teacher when I saw a beautiful smile on her face and she said, “Ma’am aap to best ho, I love you (You are the best ma’am, I love you).”
But her mother said, “Mayuri environmental science me to grades hi milte hai. Isko Maths aur English padhao (Only Grades are allotted in environmental science instead of marks, so teach her Maths and English).” Hearing this, I felt helpless and very surprised that Gauri being a little girl wanted to explore her interest but because of her parents, she was under constant pressure. What are we providing to the kids in the name of Education?
This question we have to ask ourselves, “Are we providing the right type of education to the children?” Education is not just about providing knowledge, but providing knowledge of the interest of the child. Every child is potentially unique. Every child has individual differences and interests. Education is something that enlightens the path so that we can be more compatible and skilled to choose the right path and can take decisions of our lives.
While NEP 2020 promotes study in the mother tongue and Prayaas is already working with it, the parents think that my child should be fluent in English so that when we stand in our community it should be a matter of praise. Parents should understand that the child can learn how to speak and write when he grows but let him explore and grow first.
Prayaas has no baggage and burden of books and copies policy. The curriculum is also not a burden on children as they are free to decide what they want to learn. The focus is on nature learning and holistic learning But what about the parents? They think that no bag means no study? “Kya! school me padhai nahi hogi, koi time table nhi mila, koi books nhi le ke jana hai? (No time table being provided, no books will be taken to school, this means, no studies will be done in schools or what?)”
Frequent breaks between classes. Prayaas also focuses on learning while playing. Our brains need rest, continuous learning is unfruitful. Children get proper rest time so that they can warm up and then energize for the next lesson while self doing and self-exploration but parents take it differently, “Kya bs khelne k liye school bhejte hai hum log? (Do we send our children to play in school?)”
Education according to interests and needs. Prayaas focuses on individual children so that they can explore themselves in a better way. But does this also change the mindset of the parents? There have been numerous parents who think, “Future kya hoga iska agr painting, singing ya football hi seekha to? (What will be their future if they don’t study and only play or sing?)
Everything is evaluated in terms of money. The knowledge of the subject that feels a burden to them is highly valued but everyday life skills and values the child will need at every step of its life are not worthy in the eyes of parents.
Help them find their interests and let them follow it passionately. So, how did I discover the interest of Gauri? The answer is her questions. She used to ask me many questions related to the environment and the science behind it like, “Miss, in my school rabbit has given birth to very cute babies, but why birds lay eggs and rabbits give birth to babies? Why are plants said to be the best friend of human beings?” She was more inclined towards the biology of natural processes.
Every parent dreams that their children become more successful than themselves. They want to give the best facilities, the best schools, even the best socially acclaimed subjects. But are every child’s interests the same? The answer will always be “No”, as every child has his interests and wants to explore in their different way.
That’s why our government has taken a step ahead and brought a change in the prevalent education system. Parents must understand that as we are growing, we need to adapt to the changes to survive. Similarly with education. We cannot give our children the traditional way of education. We have to analyse by looking towards ourselves. What have we got from our education?
Education is not only about holding degrees and getting good marks and mugging chapters as we all have done. Education must give a person a perspective, make a person self-aware and responsible not only towards his family but towards his country and bring a difference to the world through his decisions. Think, how capable are we to make our own decisions and path? Are we able to do so? How can we become torchbearers for our future generations?
Written by – Mayuri Mishra