THE MALLEABLE MIND OF A CHILD
Like any other day, I sat on my study table and took out my books. My exams were approaching the next week and I had a lot of chapters to complete. I thought of starting with the Trigonometric equations. Math has never been my cup of tea. But the numbers in our mark sheets are said to be important, so I tried to put aside all my thoughts and get back to study. But a scene that I saw today in my school refused to leave my mind. Our school had a parent- teacher meeting for the primary section. Among all the red and black checked dressed boys and girls, I noticed one who walked with his parents towards his teacher. He marched with his head bowed down in trepidation. His parents took his results and were speaking to his teacher when his father suddenly slapped him. A boy who was, I suppose barely five years old, was being humiliated in front of the school just because he had come second in the class.
Our country is developing at a tremendous rate, in terms of economy, craftsmanship, scientific research. However, amongst all its greatness our country is somewhat like a double- edged sword since it also leads the world in some undesirable areas, nastiest of them being student suicides. Every student is taught to set on a path of academic excellence asking the students to score and not learn, with all of them being taught to work in competition and not in collaboration with others. Like Margaret Mead said,” children must be taught how to think, not what to think”.
I remembered Raghu. He is the son of our house help. Every evening he comes to our house, after his school. While he waits for his mother to return back home with him, he doesn’t goof around, frittering away time. Either he would complete his school work or ask me for a book that he could read. When I open my books and study, he doesn’t disturb me but one could very well notice how keenly he observes all that I read. He is much better with numbers than I am and has the ability to understand sciences better than any other child of his age. Sometimes I wonder how much he would have enjoyed being in a school where he could experiment with the citric acid, which he had learned are present in lemon, how much he would have been delighted to learn the history of the Mughal dynasty, because I had seen the curiosity in his eyes to know more about Akbar, when he read those Akbar-Birbal tales, and how much he would have loved working on the computer that he only admires on his text book now. All the bills that are passed in the parliament and the Acts that are enforced stating to provide education to every child, are all those things really serving the purpose? What is the true essence of education? William Wordsworth rightly said, “How do the meadow flowers their blooms unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its roots and in the freedom bold”.
I got very tired juggling with all these thoughts. So I got out and walked down the lane, tossing the pebbles with my feet till I reached the nearby vegetable market. I saw a little girl, standing by her mother who was busy bargaining with the vendor. I really liked the silver bracelet on the child’s wrist, which was being held by her mother tightly. But my eyes got stuck to the painting that she was holding with her other hand. That painting might not have the perfect stokes of paint brush, but it was the most expressive piece of art I had ever seen.
While returning back home I noticed an advertisement, which had a quote by O. Fred Donaldson saying, “Children learn as they play. Most importantly in play children learn how to learn”. Every child has special abilities and pace of grasping things. But every child is unique and beautiful in their own way. The notion of emotional intelligence broadens the concept of intelligence beyond the intellectual domain and considers that intelligence includes emotions. Children need to be unfolded and not forced into a corset. Every individual should be appreciated and celebrated.
Class XII Student
Maria Public School