Jun 6, 2018-
Recently, I read a provocative article titled, “School is Bad for Children” written by John Holt. As I read the piece, I found his thoughts mesmeric. Needless to say, children have a huge reserve of latent talent. Sadly, traditional methods of teaching/learning keep students from properly developing their talents. By undermining natural curiosity, self-confidence, creativity, originality, independence, and patience, the school system often turns them into adults that are dependent, impatient, and indolent.
Children today can be very stubborn, much to the chagrin of parents and teachers. This predicament reminds me of an instance in a story where one person runs in front of a buffalo, calling it forward while another pulls on a rope tied to its neck, holding it back—essentially strangling it. The one holding back the buffalo is like the parents of school children while the person calling it forward is analogous to the teachers—the children are, of course, buffalos. No doubt, the victim here is the buffalo and this story of a bewildered bovine quite accurately depicts the sorry state of the prevailing education system in our country.
There’s another pertinent fable—the story of a mother camel and her calf. Once the calf asked his mother the reason for having a hump on its back. She replied, “Look son! We are desert creatures. We must, therefore, have some reserve water for desperate times.” The calf continued to pose questions asking, “Why do we have flat feet?” She replied, “So that our legs won’t fall into the sand.” He queried again, “Why do we have thick eye-lashes then?” She replied, “To keep sand from getting into our eyes.” Finally the calf asked angrily, “Then why are we kept inside a zoo?” and its mother did not reply.
Just as free-living, wild animals are entrapped in zoos, students are confined to their schools that keep them from knowing the real world. School fetters the natural tendency of children to learn in an open environment and perform spontaneously. Students are treated with indifference and teachers are apathetic to their genuine interests. Attempting to teach children in a restrictive environment, that too forcefully, is total hogwash.
School is a difficult place for non-conformists. And remember, most of the celebrated personalities of the world were non-conformists. They were out of the crowd because they dared to be different. That’s why educators must make room in their class for these non-conformists. With meteoric technological advancements, some traditional methods of teaching have become obsolete. Academic performance is not a complete reflection of a students’ capability. Limited curriculum, examination, marks and grades hinder students’ potential outcomes. Comprehensive, vocational, value-based and student-friendly education ought to be utilised if educational institutions are serious about developing their students into capable human beings.
Karki is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Ratna Rajya Laxmi (RR) Campus, Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu
Published: 06-06-2018 07:33