After reading " How children Fail- by John Holt , my memories travelled to my school days . Just sharing a few thoughts.
It’s amazing how schools can kill the spirit of learning. Every child born as an inquisitive, vibrant learner is often forced to fit into a mould and conform to a unified set pattern. The degree of freedom to be given to a child has always been a concern of the traditionalists and progressivists. But on one side we expect a child to behave and grow up like an adult who to a child is the role model. And on the other side we withdraw him the opportunities to learn to be like an adult. The myth that anything a child comes into contact with will be destroyed has induced a fear in parents to the extent that any attempt on the part of the child to learn and understand the world is refused. Children are often considered to be immature, who talk gibberish, roam in their imaginary world of games and story telling. But the amount of learning that happens in these processes is often underestimated or unnoticed.
It’s wonderful to see children inventing their own language, own games and songs, they possess the ability to construct their own world. And some times the dexterity, clarity of thoughts they possess, is absent even in adults. But entering schools things change. The child realises a slip between the cup and the lip.
Having grown up in the Gulf and studied in an Indian school, there has been many experiences that helped me and many things I believed I could not learn. Often the list of things I could not learn piled my list. I won’t blame my school for not providing me opportunities to what I missed as much as I would my parents. I often regretted not learning musical instruments, sports and participating in cultural activities. There was always a craving to do creative things , think out of the box style .As a student I had learned the magic trick of mugging up things that never mattered to me and I was sure was useless for a life time . I have always put in more time for subjects that fascinated me. Of all my teachers I loved the English teachers who gave us creative assignments. We were pretending to be journalists a day reporting about a man being swallowed by a python and acting a play written by us the next term . Every subject had an exhibition, be it measuring sand in a cone and cylinder proving the connection between areas or making pulley that carries water using dynamo for physics experiments, Year long exhibitions was more fun than classrooms. There were clubs for everything from quiz to music .The kind of patriotic song we were taught with the kind of fervour especially being in the same schools with a Pakistani school run by the same management. The rage the history classes and patriotic movies induced in us to top with the inter school cricket matches; we were prone to turn to Kargil any moment. But yet there were some amongst us who knew they came to school for serious business mostly kids of teachers and their close associates. Their schedule divided between classrooms and tuition centres. Anything non-academic in the sense which gave less exposure, chances of not receiving medals and certificates was never opted by these demigods.
I remember we were made to write a letter for a competition on children’s day. I was serious about it and wrote pages on what I thought about India when these “Demigods” blessed me and submitted their half pages. They had realised as well as the teachers that these stuff were activities for name sake to instil in our minds pride and patriotism.
I never drew anything till my 9th std. Infact I hated painting, but its when I started doing art work in 9th I realised why it was so. Till then any teacher would come in drawing period and ask us to draw some pictures they displayed some times objects, some times sceneries. Art period was considered a rest period and no one knew anything about art or painting. In fact even in history when we learned about Renaissance portions on art and architecture were ignored. But this teacher changed everything, she asked us to design toothpaste boxes of our own, design advertisement posters, saree designs, she taught us art was more than sketching we did collage and those pictures are still vivid in my mind, Art exhibitions were started and we used to submit mosaic works, rangoli designs.
Any interest to paint and learn craft work came from those opportunities and appreciation my teacher gave me and one message she gave us , "if you have determination and confidence you can learn anything". Infact most of the stuff I did thereafter was never learned from a course or class but things I observed and learned on my own.