It’s a rat race, once your child starts school. The students are expected to learn at breakneck speed and to do it better than their peers. Be it for junior KG or board exams, every parent wants their ward to excel. Get great marks and you are sorted for the future, they are told. But do parents ever stop and think, what exactly are children getting out of the education system, apart from grades? Do we want them to learn, or do we want them to just be able to score good marks? Each one of us has been where our children are today, and while the curriculum has undergone a lot of change, has the pedagogy changed?
- Children are pushed into the rat race to score good marks and “top” in exams, ever since they are in kindergarten.
- But is a marksheet the only thing our education system has to offer?
- Why aren’t schools and parents encouraging students to be curious? Or instilling life skills in them?
- Is education just cramming information, or is it an institution that aims to ease us into adult life?
How many of us were encouraged to be curious learners, and allowed to question, to raise doubts and to show concern regarding, say, climate change, at school?
Most of us send our kids to school because we believe it is the only way they can have a good future. However, it is a system rooted in rote learning. How much of what we garner in our school life, comes to our rescue as adults? While good grades and the efficiency to cram up facts and hold on to them, until you are asked to put them on an exam paper, may have led us to score admissions in good colleges and institutes, what else have they given us? Did we learn how to deal with stress and crisis of adulting? Leave aside the life skills, how many of us were encouraged to be curious learners, and allowed to question and to raise doubts, instead of being told to learn-by-heart?
In 2018, the researchers from the University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital and the Center for Human Growth and Development conducted a study to analyse curiosity in 6,200 children. The study, whose results were published by ResearchGate, found an association between greater curiosity and greater kindergarten academic achievement in reading and math, concluding that, “Fostering curiosity may optimize academic achievement at kindergarten, especially for children with low SES (socio-economic status)”. And yet, how many parents are today encouraging their children to be inquisitive, instead of getting the first rank?
Parents need to ask themselves, if marks are the only thing they want their children to get out of schooling. And if indeed that’s it, then why?
The problem is that we refuse to see schooling as formative education, something that is to train you to navigate life as an adult, and not just end up with a fat paycheck. We focus on the end result, and not on the journey, which may impart children with lessons that will last them a lifetime. The result is that our degrees and mark sheets are the only valuable things we have gotten out of a system to which we devout 14 or more years.
As a popular American writer and essayist Agnes Repplier once said, “It is as impossible to withhold education from the receptive mind as it is impossible to force it upon the unreasoning.” Parents need to ask themselves if marks are the only thing they want their children to get out of schooling. And if indeed that’s it, then why? Why is it that our kids becoming good citizens and knowledgeable people not a priority for us? Why are we settling for less? Every student will play a key role in deciding where we as a country and a society head. Rote learning isn’t going to take us much further than we have already come.
Image Credit: The Policy Times
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.