Posts Tagged 'Self-Learning'

When your child says, “I don’t like Math”…

When your child says, “I don’t like Math” what he/she is really saying is –

  1. I don’t understand/like the way the teacher is teaching OR,
  2. I’m struggling and unable to feel successful or be good at it

You may say, this is one of the most common things that children say about what they learn. You can literally replace it with art, music, science, badminton, new language…anything they attempt to learn and struggle with. True! And that is what makes the statement so dangerous. Here’s why?

  1. Isn’t math and all basic things children learn in school just tools that children need to use in their lives later on? It is like saying I don’t like the hammer, so I will not use the hammer to solve the problem that only hammers can solve. So, in a way, the dislike, really leaves the child weak and vulnerable in reality, unable to use the necessary tools when required in life to make decisions, communication, analyze or create an idea.
  2. Liking and disliking a subject is how children decide on careers and just like that, a disinterested/incompetent teacher in early years would have driven a perfectly capable child away from a career in science or art or sports.
  3. Both of these issues are inherently addressable if only there was awareness of what was driving the dislike.
  4. It is the loss of an opportunity to push oneself, to understand what makes you like/dislike something and figure out if it is important, how do you learn it? Wouldn’t you, if you knew it was important for your survival?

People like to share stories of how a child dropped physics and math in 10th grade because she didn’t like it, how another child picked arts because he was never good at science anyway, how a child picked up commerce because ultimately she wanted to become a designer and how all of this is a great sign of progress. Maybe it is better than struggling and feeling like a failure. I agree.

One thing I know for sure is if our children learned how to be successful at basic things like basic math, language and sciences in early years, whether they initially liked it/not, they would have figured out a lot more about life and success than anything else put together.

Let’s teach our children to figure out the hard stuff and then let them decide what they would love to do in life, rather than teaching them to run away from the hard stuff.They would hopefully be running towards something in their careers with both arms open rather than running away from something their whole life because they couldn’t figure it out!




The “Free Hand” Lesson

It’s been a long time since I blogged – took the so-called “blogging vacation”. Back now….

I was watching a movie about karate (the karate kid) and a particular scene stuck in my head. The kid was trying to learn Karate from a book! It was as if a light bulb went on for me. I’ve never seen Indians try to self-learn something (some people are good at observing others do things and learn, but I’m trying to make a different point here). It is somehow not taught in our schools and not present in our culture. There are no stories and mythical characters who have self-taught themselves. There is a very strong component of “guru” as a human element being present or they were magically gifted (like Hanuman).  The only self-taught person I know of in Indian mythology was Ekalavya and he was suitably punished for learning something he “shouldn’t” have! I’m not arguing that one kind of learning is better than another but there is definitely an interesting element to being a self-taught person and having different sources of learning.

Is this why we see such a proliferation of exam-oriented training/coaching centres? I’m wondering what is the kind of sales that self-help books have in India (anyone from FlipKart want to comment)? Probably that is not even the right metric, because someone may wrongly believe that they can learn/want to learn from a book and purchase it and never use it again. What do you think?
PS: Karate means “Free Hand”

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