Saturday, November 14, 2009

If your child is running behind a flitting butterfly, don’t fret and fume

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Every child must travel within, Lifestyle - Health - Ahmedabad
In this age of drill and grill, educationist Sraddhalu Ranade emphasises on the need for every child to explore the ‘complete’ mind
By Aadal Arasi Posted On Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 02:57:29 AM

Imagine an academic career without exams. Sounds too idealistic? A school-college in India is already following this method of education developed by Sri Aurobindo. Can a regular school achieve this? “It’s possible the moment teachers are gung-ho about the idea,” says Sraddhalu, who has seen many schools adopt this system completely in seven years.

Today’s lessons The present-day education is a result of the industrial age. That’s why every school is a factory and every child a raw material for mass production of engineers, doctors and lawyers. This does not leave much scope for creativity, therefore, good design schools have a foundation programme, which involves unlearning what has been crammed during 12 years of regular education.

Aurobindo education During the freedom struggle, Sri Aurobindo designed a style of education that was suited to the children of India. This interestingly weaves the gurukul system of education with the needs of the mind. Though children don’t live with the teachers, they lead the process of education. They explore, realise their areas of interest and explore further.

Nothing can be taught Nothing can be taught, everything can be learnt. That’s the first principle of complete education. It’s best if the teacher assists in the child’s process of exploration and learning. This principle helps the mind develop in totality, so if you see your child running behind a flitting butterfly, don’t fret and fume about the undone arithmetic sums, everything is learning. Just join in and do the arithmetic sums as you count flowers and leaves or much better, butterflies!

Consult the mind Every soul has a purpose and it’s best if it evolves naturally. Education is best if it takes into consideration the child’s temperament, inclination, creativity and personal initiatives. The classroom sessions can be moulded to include all this. It is best if the teacher-student ratio is 1:8. And once all this is in place, it’s just about returning to your values. If you are a parent, just remember why you brought this child into this world and as a teacher you have to go back in time to relive the moment you decided to give back to society as a teacher. Once the commitment is in place, there are no ifs and buts.

Grow from near to far Begin teaching from the backyard or the school environs and then relate them to other concepts further away. A storytelling session of a thirsty crow is best done with a bowl of water and some stones. Once that’s clear, you can go on to talk about principles of gravity, density and volume. Eureka! If it could take an engineer like Archimedes so many years to unravel the principle of density, how can you expect a child to get the concepts clear at a tender age of 10?

Fear of examination It is the fear of examination that robs children of the pleasure of learning. The idea of learning shifts focus from learning for life to a more short-term goal like exam. And that’s what drives parents to forget that life is to live and enjoy, and not spend drowned in books. It’s the parents who at times feel insecure if the exams are not held and their children are not graded. It’s a world of marks and everyone is immersed in it. Isn’t it better to see children enjoy the feel of water rather than cram that molecules of liquids are what make them flowy to take the shape of any container?

Taking on the world And after all these experiments, will children be able to take on the big bad world of proving oneself time and again. It’s proven that the children who pass out from such a system are well prepared for the world. As all their faculties are developed, they are in a better position to excel in competitive exams, tackle work pressures and deal with people. On the whole, they grow to become better individuals ready to live a holistic life. After all, isn’t life just about living it well?

Sraddhalu Ranade is a scientist and educationist who has studied at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and taken no exams all the way through college. He travels across the country propagating this form of education

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