While working with many alternative schools, one challenge is to satiate a parent that the process that looks “doing less” is actually doing more.
While most parents are obsessed with micro details of what the child did each day today,
how much he ate, how many new informations he learnt. How many paintings he drew. These are industrial/factory like output and not really a great measurement of mental development.
The “visible” straight forward things are easy to get done with control. We can instruct a child to write something down, but we cannot instruct him to get ideas or solve problems. We have to let go of control if we want that aspect to develop.
We can get children to fill up scores of worksheets, and memorize songs, just for the sake of memorizing.
But in the process, we kill their eagerness to learn. Because humans are not designed to be at our best when we don’t have a sense of freedom.
While planning learning spaces , and schedules, talking with teachers. Whenever we come up with an approach to allow something non-industrial to children it comes across as “no work” and waste of time.
Some parents will pressurize teachers and some may take the child out of school. And this eventually mean that people who understand this business best have to make compromises even if we know that this is going to have a detrimental affect
One way i approach this challenge is to make parents think. Think slow, and try to make them look at all aspects and not so visible/quantifiable aspects of a child’s development.
Things like “risk taking capacity”, problem solving skils, team-work skills which are very important but often take a backseat in assessing how well a child is doing.
I think questions are great tool to begin “thinking slow”. And questions make people think, so here are a few questions that might make you think ..
- Are you gauging your child’s autonomy?
we know that autonomy is key to better learning.
- Is your child learning something for passion or compliance?
- Is your child learning to manage his life himself? Rather than following models instructed upon him? Would you be ok with the fact that your child becomes an adult who does not know how to sort out his routine creatively?
- Do you think he will learn to manage his life himself? If you do everything for him or ask him to follow the model provided by you ?
- Is your child getting enough rest time? Just how people work-out in the gym, body needs rest, the brain needs rest.
- Are you giving him enough time?
- Are you using the screen time drug to reduce your load ?
While i do understand that some parents are genuinely stuck in responsibilities that they cannot take out time for their children. But giving screen time to young children can have serious consequences as an adult.
- Is your child’s basic human need of intimacy and forming relationships being met?
in modern times, children rarely get to meet or live with extended family. Most parents stay away from hometowns. They don’t get to meet their kith and kin. Many miss even the festivals/family functions so it does not disturb their studies. Do you think lack of building of these relationships can have positive impact?
- Are you respecting and catering to your child’s indivuduality? Every individual learns differently, at different speed? And have more interest and aptitude for one thing. While you may want your child to be great
- Are you allowing your child to play?
- Do you know what play really means?
- Are you giving your child enough unwatched time?
Children learn best when they are unwatched. Heck, even as adults if we know that some authority figure is watching over us, would we be able to
- Are you wanting your child to be best at many things?
Do you really think a child or human being should be loaded with multiple “immersive” activtiies? You want him to prepare for IIT, while do really good in sports. Spend hours “practicing” and then also learn classical dance for certifications. To excel at everything?
- Is your child becoming confident?
- Is your child developing risk taking ability?
- Does he understand how to manage emotions, basics of mental health?
I am not writing the answers of these questions because i want parents to think. And build their own answers. Unless they think, it can be very difficult for other stakeholders of childhood to do anything worthwhile.
When i am around children i do not present answers, but leave them with some questions.
SO they think! And I think, each one of us should THINK.
In other words i am a bad teacher, not providing them straight forward answers. But “enough resources“. I think as humans we are life long learners. And more than learning, sometimes we need to unlearn. And quesitons can make us really think. That’s why here.
I think parents really need to think and educate themselves on what they are doing with children today. We are not living the lives we were living 2000 years ago. The world has changed and the new world has its challenges that did nt exist when we lived in the forests. And it is pertinent that we really learn what we are doing with our lives as individuals and as parents.
May be i sound like overstating, but i feel, this is the worst time to be born in the world. Where adult control and instructional led childhood is highest.
While “passion”, “autonomy”, self-learning, overall development of a child sound all cool and in principle most parents agree that these are nice additions. But sadly all these terms are glorified in texts, stages but not implemented in real life.
And i think, this article and list of questions would be a good starting point to make them think.
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