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Values & Education

A Balloon Inflated Too Much


Teaching is a highly paid job as it gets you much needed results in form of students’ marks and at the same time you are paid in kind with large dollops of love from the little attractive humans. You get a lot of satisfaction from the kids who are learning to study in a proper way. They like and show eagerness for the subjects that the academic journey offers. They ask ample questions to me about all and sundry aspects of a subject. I love answering the questions with a big smile, be they about Algebra, Geometry, Science, History or Geography.

That is what I have gauged in my two years of teaching experience. But what about the parents? They are well intentioned but never fail to create problems for the teachers. They feel that they know everything. Let me cite an example which will give you more understanding as in why am I so disappointed with their constant nagging behavior.

Creativity is an art. I understand it is innate but it has to be nurtured else it would get suppressed. It should be imbibed right from the childhood. We should welcome the thought of asking our children to generate novel ideas which will sharpen their decision making and thinking skills. The systematic and scripted way of leading a life will kill their imagination and hamper the productivity of a child.

I have always been a creative teacher who believes in imagination and creativity as the prime bricks to build a building called learning. But imagination is bad and not at all acceptable in parenting parlance. I would not say all parents are like that, but I see 7 out of 10 parents falling in this category.

This incident happened during a drawing session. One parent came and told me that her child was participating in a drawing contest in their locality, in which the participants would be given prizes and the winner would be awarded a certificate and qualify for the next level. I was very happy that the kid was participating as drawing and sketching gives us an idea about a child’s creative skill.

As I was lost in these thoughts, the parent broke my reverie and came up with a shocking statement. She wanted me to make her children draw the picture that she, the mother suggested. Wow, this comes as a fantastic statement! I nodded my head with a lump in my throat, wishing I could do something about the thoughts of this mother of two. But this is a state of our society. Parents draw an outline which they want their kids to obey and shun their out of the box thinking. So the mother wanted her child to draw a ‘picture’ which will come across as a winner among other fellow kids. Killing their imagination just for a trophy, isn’t it? The child wanted to draw a ball and bat. The mother insisted and scolded the child and slowly the child went back to its cocoon and started preparing for her mother’s ‘picture’. Yes, I would call this only the mother’s imagination. How can it be a child’s imagination then?

This is one instance which shocked me and held up a mirror to parents’ thinking. The competition, the rat race, the deadlines and pressure is what the parents are transferring to their child’s mind. Already, the cascading influx of technology is affecting a children’s imagination and thus leading to the destruction of creative sense in them. Our educational standards do not allow a person to think creatively as they don’t fit in the intellectual model, and parents further add to the woes.

Remember, children are humans and not robots or scripted software. They like you to hear out their imagination and their animated talks, which their world is full of. So hear them out. May be the talking animals and flying humans will not make sense to you. But it is how they become master storytellers and good orators. So instead of making them do a dull job of following the already laid plan, ask them to come up with their own decisions and divergent thoughts. Role play, pretending to be someone else, picture composition and playtime are some of the methods which could strengthen their creative bend. Let them be more emotionally expressive, more unconventional, lively and passionate and encourage them to see things from a different angle.

After all, they are our future leaders who need to go out in the world and create many inventions that our world wants to see. And invention begins from creativity.

Saranya Iyer is an academic tutor and Spanish trainer. She also teaches creative writing to children. After working for 5 years in the corporate sector as a Marketing Manager in financial services, she quit her job to pursue her passion of teaching and writing. She has co-authored the book Plantain Leaf and Winged Heart. Her inspiration is Jane Austen, one of the leading authors of 18th century. Her interest does not rest only with books but also extends to music and art. She believes in the Spanish saying, “One who reads much and travels much, sees much and knows much”. The author stays with her techie husband in Mumbai.