Free The Child!

I happened to meet a few parents of children who were going to a prominent school in Pune city. When asked the reason, promptly came the reply – “The school is focusing more on extra curricular activities and sports rather than academics. How will our children fare in the board exams and the competitive exams thereafter? The entire burden of academics has been transferred to the parents and the school is least bothered about it!”

In a country where educational reforms finally seem to be taking baby steps, a lot of awareness is being created around extra-curricular courses and importance of sports as an integral part of holistic education and inclusion of these in the final examinations, the insecurities of most parents have not reduced. On the contrary, they seem to have increased.

A progressive school in Pune, bravely announces that it aims to create visionaries, musicians, artists and writers apart from doctors, lawyers and engineers. Unfortunately these well educated, well traveled parents interpret this statement as the end of academics and consequently a bright future!

When I asked the children about the change of school, they said that everything was fine in the new school. The only thing they really missed was the extra time that they got in their previous school to practice their music/art/sport. The children were quite unsure why the parents pulled them out from the previous school.

Why can’t adults accept the fact that extra- curricular activities and games increase concentration and build cooperative learning? More often than not, children who pursue these interests are far more likely to excel in life in general. The ability to listen and appreciate, calculate and apply logic will come naturally to them. It was surprising to see how educated parents had such little confidence in their kids’ ability to excel themselves.

I tried to dig deeper and found a few more disturbing secrets. Parents, working or not working had no focused time to spend with the kids. Healthy discussions about the day spent in school was missing. The only conversations were regarding finishing the homework and studies. According to one parent, her kid had bouts of anger at night and would wrestle with his father! Another twelve year old had a bed-wetting problem due to fear of parents if he did not perform! In this article, I write only about a few parents, but such stories are true of many, many affluent or not so affluent families in our country. I would expect the children of uneducated and socio-economically deprived groups to be pushed to perform in academics really hard because that is probably their one and only sure chance to a better life.

What kind of a future are we driving at if the majority of well educated parents still do not understand the meaning of holistic education? Even though the parents’ intent is always to have nothing but the very best for their kids, they must try to bring out the best in their child by giving him/her the freedom to explore and create at their pace. Moreover, children today are much more sure of themselves than 20 years back. They are lucky to have been born in a time where careers related to media, music, arts, sports and adventure are flourishing like never before. In a life that promises more speed, more rush, more stress and more loneliness, the survivors will be the ones who have found and pursued their calling in a free and abundant environment.

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