Has your child ever asked you this question? Most children pose this question on the eve of the reopening day and on Monday mornings. And when even the child who isn’t in kindergarten anymore still says it on all days except holidays, we only cajole and coax him and pack him off to that detested destination. When we cannot reason or please, we inflict our authority and end up shouting at him. “While every other child makes it to the school without much fuss, what is wrong with you ?”
Frantic enquiries at school, discussions with parents of the classmates, health check-up.. The anxiety catches on. In most cases, the problem certainly gets narrowed down by now. It remains our task to rectify it. ‘Easier said than done’, you say? Well, we can look for help from beneficial sources, too.
When the question. “Why should I go to school?” came from my friend’s son of eight years, she paused so as to let him see why. Ram, the little fellow had solid justification. “I love movies and I admire the heroes. They are such strong men and they evoke admiration and respect from the society. When I grow up, I want to be such a hero. I don’t want to go to school to study subjects that are irrelevant to my choice of future career. I speak good english other than my mother tongue. I know basic mathematics. That’ll do.”
My friend and I sat in discussion and we came out with ‘positive strategies’. The boy needed to rediscover
– the joy of learning,
– the role of education in shaping an individual.
We decided to show him that education cannot be compartmentalized and kept out of the everyday life. We asked him to list three things that he felt have no room for the subjects taught at school. He came up with the following and we gave him the ‘application in real life’ of the knowledge imparted at school, considering his age and academic level.
Relevance of education:
Physics : Speed (of the ball) = distance travelled by the ball divided by the time taken for it to reach the bat.
Mathematics : The angle formed between the bowler, batsman and the ball’s course which determines the run scored.
Statistics & Arithmetic : Run rate, area of the field, distance between the batsmen, etc. Calculation of overs, maidens, wickets.
History : Origin of the game, record of previous players
Geography : Nature of the Pitch, speed of wind, lighting, weather conditions.
Biology : The fitness regime and work outs of players, food, tea-breaks at recommended intervals, first-aid.
2. MOVIES AND ACTING
Relevance of education:
Physics : Skill in handling the camera and every equipment related to film-making.
Chemistry : Various make-up kits prepared with exact combination of cosmetic materials.
History : The previous projects of similar nature, the approach, mistakes and achievements of the past.
Geography : Planning of shooting locations, study of weather conditions there.
Statistics & Arithmetic : Maintenance of accounts, calculation of every kind – right from production unit up to distribution of the movie.
3. BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER
Physics : Heat, Light, Time, Condensation, Evaporation, Refrigeration.
Biology : Fermentation, Pasturisation, calorie calculation.
Chemistry : Preservation, Baking
Maths : Proportion, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Angles.
History: Traditional foods, Regional delicacies, foods of festivals.
The boy of eight was, for sure, baffled. His mother enlightened him further that childhood is the time for acquiring the basic knowledge of as many subjects as possible. “It is like having an open ticket, you see”, she told him. ” As you grow older, you can focus further on your favorite areas of specialization. Till then, as you would do when you go to a buffet party, try tasting every topic that is offered to you. We will stand by you when you decide upon your career after your schooling.”
Ram was convinced enough. After all, it pays to be the civilized being, thanks to the knowledge imparted at school. ” Who’d wish to go back to stone age, living in caves, eating uncooked food sans television and computer”, he quipped.
‘Knowledge is power’ – Swami Vivekanada had put it just right.
“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.” Isn’t this a nice quote? Ask a child if he wishes to be free or happy, he would, without a second thought, say that he wishes to be free – free to run, jump and play. Education should not therefore be gifted to him as a pair of ‘golden handcuffs’. The key to happiness remains with us, in the form of joyful methods of teaching.
The child’s command over the language that is spoken at home ends with oral communication. Whether he is taught a well-known or hardly-known language, mastery over reading can be easily gained through regular sessions of flashing cards, a fact that we have extensively discussed.
But when it comes to writing, children need to be guided the right way, without instilling fear. They need to understand that writing is a skill that can be mastered with concentration and practice. Here is a game that has proven successful that facilitates learning the letters of any language.
If you are handling only one child, then you become a participant, too. And you both form two separate groups. If there are more than one participant, divide them in to two or more groups. We form groups so as to keep up the spirit of competition, thrill and fun.
One or two long rulers, depending upon the pattern of the chosen language.
Blackboard + chalk piece / white board + marker pen ( if played inside the classroom)
Score board or if available, a glass jar and colorful plastic coins
A stop watch, if available.
How to play?
A member of Group A writes a word on the board, selects ONE LETTER and draws a box around it. The stop clock is set.
The member (or members if played with more participants) of Group B first identifies the letter, by pronouncing it the right way. 10 points are awarded.
Next, the same team calls out the letter that comes before the letter in the box. If it is correct, 10 points are given.
The third step is to write the letter that comes before ( He/They had just called it out). Another 10 points are awarded.
Fourth step is to call out the letter that comes after the letter in the box: 10 points.
And the fifth is to write what was just called out. Award 10 points for the right answer.
The next steps involve recalling the usage of the letter in the box in the beginning of a word (10 points), middle of a word (10 points), end of a word (10 points). If the letter cannot be used in a particular place, like ‘end of the word’, you may still award 10 points if the group member states this fact without taking too long a time.
At the ninth stage, you may employ the other possible variations with the letter in the box. For example, ‘ and ^ are used with the letter “e” in French. If the team member calls out with right pronunciation, award 10 points in total, dividing judiciously between each symbol or accent that the group identifies orally.
So far 90 points have been awarded. If the group has successfully got through above 50 points till this stage, then a bonus of another 10 points are awarded. So the total makes up to 100. A completely fulfilling one!
The game isn’t over yet, please hold on! As a process of verification, the opposing team goes to the Alphabet Chart. With the help of the two rulers (as required in languages with large number of letters), the group member locates the alphabet in a perpendicular manner. Thus the participants get to have a recap of the two lines of letters that belong to similar phonetic pattern as the letter in the box.
‘What comes before’ and ‘What comes after’ are checked next: The participants involuntarily revise the Chart. And with what enthusiasm and happiness!
The game is continued for about 3 or 4 turns for each group and is stopped before the children want it to be stopped. This way, the thrill of the game is maintained and the children eagerly look forward to “playing again”, as they would view it.
“Learning again” as we would call it.