The other day, I was invited to a prestigious School in Delhi to talk to the parents on : ‘ Every Child …..a winner’ : Developing Confidence that lasts a lifetime:
To me it was a great opportunity to share with parents, thoughts about raising curious, thinking children who would grow up into well adjusted adults who would flourish and thrive in the future.
Most Schools and parents together end up doing exactly the opposite. Pushing children into slots created from the mind-sets and experiences of the past, they cast them into wrong shapes for the future.
The reality is that ” “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist,
Using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” As stated by the education secretary of the US in times of Bill Clinton.
Even in traditional roles, teachers and parents can sometimes not visualise the future potential of learners before them.
The British scientist who won the Nobel Prize for medicine this year (2012) was told as a 15-year-old schoolboy that a career in science was “ridiculous”. He has won this year’s Nobel prize in medicine for his pioneering work in cloning and stem cells published in 1962. Sir John Gurdon, 79, of Cambridge University was the first person to clone an animal from a single cell and in doing so ignited a slow fuse on the long development of stem cell technology which promises to revolutionise medicine in the 21st Century.Despite a school report suggesting that he should avoid studying science, Sir John said that he owes a great debt of gratitude to the UK for supporting basic scientific research that at the time had no obvious use other than the advance of knowledge. “The work I was involved in had no obvious therapeutic benefit. It was purely of scientific interest. I hope the country will continue to support basic research even though it may have no obvious practical value,” Sir John said.
Einstein was slow in learning how to speak. His parents even consulted a doctor. He also had a cheeky rebelliousness toward authority, which led one headmaster to expel him and another to amuse history by saying that he would never amount to much. But these traits helped make him a genius. His cocky contempt for authority led him to question conventional wisdom. His slow verbal development made him curious about ordinary things — such as space and time — that most adults take for granted. His father gave him a compass at age five, and he puzzled over the nature of a magnetic field for the rest of his life. And he tended to think in pictures rather than words.
When the Nobel Laureate in Physics Rabi was asked what made him a Scientist, he did not give the credit to his Science Teacher or the Science Lab, but to his mother, who encouraged him everyday to ask a ‘ good’ question.
In a recent talk on TED, Neuroscientist Beau Lotto suggests that Science and children’s play have much in common, and that all kids including his 12 year old student Amy O’Toole can do Science.
Life is not about Science only and it is liberal thought, humanities and philosophical dispositions which must also be nurtured in children. When we talk about preserving biological diversity, spending huge amounts in preserving tigers, why do we encourage a desert in learning with the goal for our best children being coaching for IIT, studying at an IIT , then belling the CAT to an IIM then a good job in a multinational. But here comes the ‘ Kim ascharyam’ which the yaksha asks Yudhishtira in the Mahabharata. Having done this path we don’t want our children to be the Rajat Gupta’s or the Tewari of IIT fame, much less the Shilling and Ted Cryzinski of Harvard fame. But we forget Kabir who said ‘ Boya Peda Babool Ka, toh Adam kahan se hoye’.
And several hundred years ago Shakespeare had put it beautifully in Hamlet in Polonius’s farewell speech to his son Laertes ” and above all, to thine own self be true…..