My Son’s Education

Mark Twain once warned against letting school interfere with education. Wise as it is to be able to differentiate between schooling and education, it is dispiritingly too easy for a school to do that.

Unless painstakingly attempted otherwise, the prevalent (or, say, traditional)  methods lead to built up of inappropriately high academic load pretty quickly. The primary indicator is, for obvious reasons, is the weight of the school bag. We have seen that to be always to be a little higher than 5kg even after carefully arranging the content according to teachers’ instructions and the time-table. (Given that a child of this age would normally weigh 20-25kg, this is 20% of a kid’s body weight—equivalent to an adult carrying about 15-20kg.) While certainly unhealthy and in contravention to relevant regulations (mandating the limit at about 3kg), this harks of an age and world of decades back.

This impression is bolstered by the amount of homework that is given. This surely takes the fun out of studies—the capacity to have joy in learning is one contribution that the school and the teachers can make for which the child (and us, of course) would be ever grateful.

I am truly amazed at the archaic insistence on written work and rote learning that is being put in by the teachers, even today. Children are asked to write (twice, in the textbook and the notebook) inane questions and answers. Not just redundant, this is nonsensical—unimaginative, uncreative and devoid of any learning value. I happened to be helping (or was it nagging and disciplining—oh, I hate that) my son with his English homework, the masculine of goose is gander and feminine of horse is mare! I had to google up to find out these antiquated words.

I admire the science textbook that he has, though. I certainly wish that was how science was taught when I was his age. As beautiful and relevant the exposition of scientific method (stress on observation, for example) that it has, saddening is the pedagogy where it is made into mockery by stupid questions and answers to be written into note-books and eventually remembered for tests/ exams. (Take for example, being asked to write about ‘prediction’ rather than making predictions and learning from the same.)

I wish and hope for the sake of my son that his teachers realize that  the world with its fields and trees and men and women and objects and stars, is a far bigger and richer textbook or a teacher or a school. I hope that with this sense of humility, the teachers and schools exercise the enormous power they have on a child and influence they have on his future.