Our education system may not be perfect, however increased parental bonding promises to help enhance learning in early childhood. Here are three ways by which you can nurture a love for learning in your child.
The internet, rarely the voice of reason during the best of times, erupted once again recently, when the figurehead of Infosys – Narayan Murthy said some unkind words about the Indian education system. The man was delivering a speech at a convocation at IISc and his gripe in a nutshell, was that our education system was to blame for our lack of inventiveness, imagination or enterprise. Not surprisingly, the media, blogs and the social media went ballistic soon after, defending our collective national pride.
Bitter pills are hard to swallow but here’s the thing – he’s probably right.
Stuck firmly in the past
The truth is that our education system is both complex and disappointing at the same time. India’s higher education systems is one of the world’s largest and yet, the ways in which it functions are archaic, still hugging the foundations on which it was built over 180 years ago by a British politician.
Macaulay’s insistence that schooling be made a priority in India may have ignited the spark for a universal and standardised schooling system and increased educational accessibility, but it remains mired in bureaucracy and standardised procedure – notions that don’t agree all that well with the spirit of learning.
Take a look at what an NCERT position paper has to say about our situation.
“ It is a fact that many a times, teachers complete the syllabus as per the textbook but they do not have a clear idea as to what kind of learning they expect from children in different curricular subjects.
Teachers mainly use the textbooks to transact the text, conduct given activities and assess children based on questions given in the textbooks which would perhaps not reflect precise criteria of assessment.”
Caught in a web of our own making
In other words, teaching has been reduced to a set of mundane turns of the cog: a workaday routine that simply has to be completed, with no regards to learning outcomes. If you have attended a PTA meeting recently, you would probably even sympathise with teachers who often don’t have a support system of their own to mentor, inspire or guide them.
So rather than wait around for the government’s new five year plan to mature, here is how you can speed it along, and ensure that your child benefits as well.
Parental bonding enhances learning capability
While the school may be responsible for structured learning in children, research indicates that parental bonding has an even more important role to play. Children, especially during early childhood look upon parents as both role models and as a source of reliable knowledge of the world. Participating in play-based learning activity with the child may be the single biggest factor that can improve the child’s learning ability.
The How and Why rather than just the What
Schools rely entirely on standardised text-books and testing which are the single biggest reasons for rote learning. Children are left with vague and disconnected bits of information that describe objects, concepts and phenomena rather than with useful knowledge on how to apply this learning.
Parents can supplement this by adopting a constructivist and playful mindset. Teaching the child to learn by making things, rather than by memorising facts because learning through play makes subjects less intimidating, fun and easier to internalise.
Track the child’s learning growth
It’s probably not a good thing if you are entirely dependent on your school’s report cards for indicators of your child’s learning progress. Reports from standardised tests are probably the worst possible indicators of a child’s learning.
Parents of school-going children can benefit from the systems that home-schoolers use to track learning progress. The most useful ways are those that track the child’s interests, strengths and weaknesses and identify innate talent as well as learning challenges.
Timely intervention by parents may perhaps be the biggest inflection point that the Indian education system needs on its road to reform, and you as a parent, have the power to begin this change.
Notes, Credits and References
Image Credits: Smitha Shivaswamy, Vinoth Chandra and Wikipedia. A couple of the pictures here have been sourced from the public domain and are unattributed. Please get in touch if you are the original creator.
Learning Indicators and Learning Outcomes at the Elementary Stage – NCERT / 2014 (PDF)
Indian Express article on the Zombification of children in schools