Posts Tagged 'killing curiosity'

Are we scared of letting our children think?

I’ve heard too many parents tell me if my child starts thinking

  • They will ask too many questions and get into trouble at school
  • They will make decisions on their own and not listen to me

My point is that children are asking a lot of questions all the time. It is the most natural way that children learn. You may or may not be at the receiving end of it. They may or may not be articulating it to you or to anyone who can help them with it. They may be asking a lot of unproductive or demoralizing questions to themselves – like “What is the point of all this?” “What will happen if I ask that question?”

The difference is that thinking children will ask empowering questions that matter and will ask it politely and will ask it in a way that they are able to dig deeper into answers. More depth, more access, more reflection, more empathy and more clarity is the solution and not preventing children from learning to ask questions.

Your child is also making decisions all the time and these decisions are increasingly complex and at a larger impact scale than they ever were in the past. Most of the times if we were in those positions, we wouldn’t know what to do because we are not children living in the same era as they are and when I say this, most people’s eyes pop out. The truth is we cannot be out there or in their head to protect them from making wrong decisions, we can only empower them with the right kind of skills required to make decisions and that requires a learning a complex series of structuring, reasoning, analytical thinking, visualization, creative problem solving, collaboration, communication and value-based decision-making skills to be mastered and none of which is being taught in today’s traditional schools.

I think, as a parent, we need a paradigm shift in our thinking process and going towards an approach of empathetic parenting where we can take sufficient perspective and yet, work with the children to arrive at solutions apt for them instead of merely telling them what to do. That way, you model good decision-making skills that will ready your child to take on careers and problems in the future that we cannot even anticipate today. If they only listened to us, they will be limited by our potential to think, don’t you think?

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The forgotten “why” in education

I still vividly remember the lesson in class 6, “curiosity killed the cat”, that taught us a moral lesson not to be curious. I also remember thinking how it was relevant to me because a) I was not a cat and b) I learnt a lot of things by asking questions! (So much so that my general punishment in class used to be to go 5 minutes without asking a question!)

Why do I broach the topic today? The whole of last week has been hectic, we had back to back training sessions at two schools. We were training them on the usage of RazorBee (the device from Ariem Technologies, where I work) to create their own audio/visual content by using Internet resources (images, videos, text etc.). Now, over the period of time we have evolved a method by which we can get them to effectively search for concepts on the internet (and belive me it is quite a skill, and I still have to bail teachers on certain tricky topics, but most of them do fine now) but presentation using audio/visual aids is a totally different ball game.

When you present a topic, with or without an aid – it shows three things:

1. Your knowledge on the topic

2. Your thought process while you put together the lesson

3. Obviously, your skill to engage the audience

What happened during our presentation session, left me reeling. Not so much because of their skill, most of them were good, but because most of them were not engaged – neither with the content nor with their audience. In my mind, the engagement with the content and the audience happens only when you have a natural curiosity to find and figure things out and then explain it with equal amount of gusto, where you raise the curiosity in the minds of the children, get them to question their knowledge, rake their brains a bit and then wait with abated breath as you demystify the solution! I didn’t see even one example of this kind of classroom delivery in the 100 odd presentations we did in the past one week.

That brings me back to the topic of the forgotten “why”. Looks like our teachers have forgotten the joy of learning and the natural curiosity to understand things that made them teachers in the first place. ICT or no ICT, teachers matter, what they teach the kids imprints in them forever. Even if it were just another job today, isn’t it ones duty to oneself to do it well? Information abounds today, it is teachers who can set the students in the quest of knowledge. I wonder….what we are teaching our kids?


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