By Monica Sood, Co-founder, Author In Me
Every child is a genius who needs the right environment to blossom and who will find expression only in absolute relaxation. Their mind and body will work best, only when they are joyful and peaceful not when they are constantly competing to be ahead of others. Sadly, competition has become an integral part of our education system and society. The repercussions of such an approach are deleterious. Instead of relying upon their innate capabilities, children tend to lead a life that is entirely influenced by others.
Don’t children deserve the environment where the focus is more on building competency and collaboration rather than just competition? And is devoid of judgment. Is there a need to embrace a new approach that brings back the focus on knowing oneself before they embark on a journey of outward learning?
Well, the answer is definitely yes!
Unarguably, we all agree that education should broaden the horizons, instil curiosity and kindle the spark to know more rather than forced learning. Besides that, the learning environment should be supportive, enriching and engaging. Nevertheless, one of the most important factors is that the learner should be enthralled and enthusiastic for learning. Children should be taught the importance of failures along with success. It should be reinforced that failure is also a way of learning. Unfortunately, the rising academic demands have compelled educators to spend time and money on reforming and enhancing the learning environment, redesigning curriculum, and standard testing; undermining the significance of training the learner to think for themselves and not to accept the preconceived ideas. How can we honour the unique journey of each individual through life? Unless, we introduce them to their inner world before the outward learning, their quest for a purposeful life will always be incomplete. Until they are aware of their unique strengths, passions, and their darkest fears, they will lead a life devoid of wholeness. Until they are mentally agile and have empathy for others, they will never taste true success.
In ancient times the early education was more child-centric and wisdom was acquired from the experience children used to encounter in day to day lives. Instead of teaching the rote skills, the focus was mainly on the overall development of the child in terms of life skills, moral values, self-realisation and intellectual abilities. Children were equipped with true survival skills to evolve humanity. The education was focussed on the important aspect of personal fulfilment rather than on obtaining a high-test score. A similar balanced approach is required yet again that not only fulfils the academic attainment but also focuses on the overall development of a child. Yes, academic achievements are important but there are other skills – self-awareness, courage, resilience, trust, cooperation, empathy, honesty, patience, and hope –that ultimately make life worth living.? Should we not promote teaching life skills equally in the education system? By introducing a grading system for life skills, can we create competition to evolve humanity. Can you imagine a world where everyone is competing against each other to be more empathetic?
Children form perception of themselves and the world during early years, therefore, it becomes vital that the they should be exposed to dynamic, creative, meaningful and multisensory experiences in their early years so that they are introduced to the adventures of learning, their unique selves, the wonders of nature, the richness of social interactions, essential life skills and the ecstasy of acquiring new abilities. This will allow them to embark on a journey to discover their true selves instead of being in a race to be ahead of others.
Another significant step is to bring a shift in our thought process. As adults, we need to prioritise what is important for our children to lead a purposeful life. Once we change our mindsets then only it’s possible to revolutionise the whole system. (Remember, educators/ policymakers only facilitate what we demand for.) To give our children the best start to their early lives, let’s change the paradigm of education. Together, we can create opportunities for them to learn the virtues that are important to lead a successful and blissful life.. We have to consciously make an effort to navigate them to their inner wisdom and broaden the horizons of knowledge. It’s important that they should learn to be kind, spread love, and handle failures as they learn academic subjects. Understanding the importance of expression and emotional regulation will make them mentally agile to face the adversities of life. It is essential to give equal importance to emotional intelligence as we value academic intelligence. A shift in the parameters of testing from competition to competence, can encourage them to think critically, form an opinion, embrace perseverance, learn from their mistakes and communicate effectively. Once they learn these life skills, success is inevitable.
No matter what methods or activities we choose to impart education there is a need to redefine the prime objective which is to enhance the overall development of a child instead of just academic credentials., If we are not teaching our children the ways to express their feelings, to be proud of their unique existence and the life skills to deal with adversities, we are failing as parents, teachers and caregivers. It is equally essential that along with academic knowledge, they should be equipped with tools and skills that they would need to follow their dreams and to make this world a better place.