Days of our Lives!

February 17, 2009

Heads or Tails?

Filed under: My Cup of Socie-Tea — Santhosh @ 8:08 PM

How many times have we come across that old classmate whom all of us thought would never cut it but who is now doing well for himself? Or that boy across the street who just couldn’t grasp trigonometry or Tagore but who now runs his own business? This is an essential paradox in our education system, especially so in India. We expect our children to be good at everything in school, while they will need to be good at just one to do well in life.

An extreme way of putting it would be that our expectations of the education system are maybe out of sync with the outside world, where division of labour and specialization rule. In the world of adults, we are not expected to be good at everything. We have our own set of things we would like to do ourselves, and manage to do well, and another set of things we know we’re better off giving to the specialists. So why do we force our children to do everything in the hope that they will eventually be good at something?

The funda behind sending our children to any form of (formal) education is that they’ll get one – about X, about themselves and where they stand with respect to X and finally about what the world provides for and thinks of X (where X is what they’re trying to learn, be it physics, geometry or medicine). This has been adapted into our current education system where we send them to school to develop certain basic language and numeric skills. This is the basic infrastructure that the school system must provide so that our children can make the most of life’s opportunities. It’s the base, the foundation, the proverbial roots that they can use to reach out.

Till around the start of the nineties, this was essentially what was agreed upon by both sides in the system. However, the subsequent economic boom our country has been in, while definitely for the betterment of most, has made everyone forget just how much is this basic infrastructure. It used to be just the three Rs, reading, writing and arithmetic. This has subsequently been enshrouded with a variety of so-called hygiene factors, allegedly the absolute essentials, in terms of both quantity and quality. The rat race that’s now become a part of all this is further ensuring that.

With all this, we now have the child, the forgotten one we are all trying to help, being forced to try and do well in all of them, with us forgetting the original reasons as to why he is there in the first place. All this leaves us with one question. Should we try and make sure the child is not left behind in any way when it comes to any of the supposed essential factors? Or should we help the child in understanding what his strengths are and where his interests lie, guiding him towards achieving the best he can in them?

Should education build on a child’s strengths or should it try to minimize his/her weaknesses?



  1. You are right! We should help our children by recognizing their strengths and interests. Each child will excel in different skills. But we are not identifying the inherent talent of each child. There is a lot of stress on a child to perform well academically. A school must incorporate a method of teaching which recognizes inherent talents and strengths of each child and help them grow as individuals. In my opinion, teachers play an important role in recognizing an individual child’s strength. I consciously opted for Inventure Academy for my son because the school’s concepts match what I was looking for in an educational institute

    Comment by Rajalaxmi — April 15, 2009 @ 1:27 PM | Reply

  2. My daughter goes to Inventure Academy. I chose the school specifically due to their mix of traditional and modern education. For the fact that kids are not only given the text books , but been asked to use them as GUIDES….and ask questions, not just read and accept. Their teaching methodology is something i wanted for my daughter. She used to be a very quite child, and i was always afraid she may not like school, but i was mistaken. She has taken to school and her classmates so smoothly. They sit together and discuss things, learn about each other and how diverse aeach and every kid is in that circle itself. I feel it's very important to interact with various different people too as part of education.

    Comment by mallika — October 11, 2009 @ 1:02 PM | Reply

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