About Learning, Laughter & Joy

If there is one child from fiction who pulls at my heart strings then is Alice from “Alice in Wonderland”. She epitomizes and symbolizes Curiosity. In my mind I call Alice, ‘Curiosity’s child’ and I imagine her to be a round eyed little girl moving from one experience to the other with her eyes growing rounder and wider at each seeming impossibility, every novel wonder and every new learning. She sums it beautifully by stating, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

(Image Courtesy Pearltree Life)

The image above says it all: there is the door, there is the key and at the heart of it all, there is the child: in this case my dear Alice, but the child could be anyone, the key is the facilitator and the door is the endless possibilities available to the child.

It’s a great lesson for all educationists. Every child craves to know the ‘Why’ before learning the ‘How’. An educationist should endeavor to answer these very questions. There is a seed of immortality in every human being. If students are provided educational opportunities to reflect, build, imagine, create, explore and draw inferences, then this seed can fructify into a knowledgeable, skilled and future-ready individual. Education should empower not weaken. It should eradicate ignorance not validate it.  The only purpose of education is freedom; the only method is experience; the only outcome is the joy of accomplishment.

The rationale is not to fill a vessel but to kindle a flame. The child today is lost between pre- school, junior school, senior school and coaching academies or teaching shops. In this time of stern assessments and restrictive practices, the liveliness, enthusiasm and spontaneity that is natural to a child has been forgotten.  The prevailing belief seems to be that education is about training and that success can only be defined monetarily, rather than by learning to think critically and logically. Instead of making minds, the current attempt is to make careers. Have children been enabled to sift and weigh evidence, to distinguish true from false, real from unreal; and facts from fiction? Have their choices been made clear or are the choices made for them? Are they provided a chance of discovering how one idea connects with another, to look at the world for themselves or to make their own decisions?

Children want the same things as adults: to laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted as also to develop to their full potential-intellectually and spiritually; which means that students should be empowered to pursue self-knowledge and the skills that will help them be of service to their fellow human beings.

At my school pupils are not taught. Instead, strategic efforts are made to provide the conditions in which they can learn. The team of teachers likes to aid in turning mirrors into windows as also developing mere clones or imitators into individuals and leaders. The passionate teachers here believe in challenging them to make learning student-led; to raise the quality of assignments but not the amount of work assigned; to stimulate students to reflect and enquire rather than test their memory or speed; to support the development of self-confidence, preparedness, research skills, organization and being actively engaged in their own learning. In the coming years when machines make the human redundant, the only skills that will count will be critical thinking, logical reasoning and effective communication.

Students should be taught how to live life by developing the mind and should be equipped to deal with reality. They should be taught to think, to understand, to integrate and to prove. They learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it rather than from learning the answer itself. The future lies in students leading their journey of learning and acquisition by a scientific, inquiry based approach.

Meera Mathur

Principal, DPSG International

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