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Child Centricity - The Heart of Learning : Sid Shukla

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

By: Sid Shukla, The Wonder School

Every educational institution in the world wants to be ‘Child Centric’, they base their education models around it. But, as a country can we really claim to be anything close to the idea? The heavy school bags, large number of academic hours spent in mugging up concepts, high pressure to clear the Board exams with good marks, denying young students the opportunity to explore and pushing them to prepare for entrance exams, tells very different story.

Let us face it, in the attempt to build a secure and better future for our children we sometimes display absolute apathy by taking away the joy of being young, and harm their potential by having a limited outlook for that very future that, we want to be secure and comfortable. Freedom to Think:

We come back to our question, what actually is Child Centricity, and it reminds us of a line from Chitto Jetha Bhayshunyo (Where The Mind is Without Fear) by Rabindranath Tagore: Where the mind is led forward by thee, Into ever widening thought and action, Into that heaven of freedom my Father, Let my country awake. This was originally published in 1910, it has been 111 years since then. The Right Way Forward: A present day Indian Student does a lot of activities as they are in school, and at the end of year their self-worth is judged by numbers that are presented on a mark-sheet, besides their names, which proves if they have made the cut, or not. Is that how we want our education system to progress? For how long are we going to blame the system and wait for it to right the wrongs, while we sit in angst and furrow our brows?

Coming back to child – centricity, and to explain it in a sentence, it is about giving the power to the student, to learn what they want, as they want, and how they want it. In short, we give ownership to the child, and in-turn they decide what they learn based on an approach that is fun and engaging, rather than making our kids into robots, who think in binary and talk in Maths. Courage and Curiosity: Imagine a world where kids are made to think for themselves, without rules written in concrete which they must follow, in order to gain relevance in the society.

How many times (in India) do we hear the words, “My kid is a Footballer and he is pretty good at it”, or “I wish my kid can become a musician”? Not a lot, and it is about time we change that.

The Indian student should have a sense of curiosity about her, where she learns through discovery and inclusion, rather than a set curriculum. Where opportunities are equal, and truly child centric, not teacher or institution centric. Where we tell the child that it is okay to fail if you do not give up. Where there is smile in their eyes and courage in their hearts. Where the mind is without fear.

What Needs to Change:

A lot, and it will not happen overtime. Schools need to follow an approach of giving more attention to each individual learner, where the student is observed and given insight on how to improve on the journey they have embarked upon, rather than getting lost in the race to come first (at Science, or English). We need a more holistic approach to education, where there is no extra – curricular, but a system which fits arts with Maths, and makes science more about the beautiful world we live in rather than laws.

Also, a particularly important part of any program must be Teachers. Teachers who are invested in the child’s growth, rather than treating it like any other job. We should teach our teachers to dream for a better society, where kids are taught to make decisions for themselves, and give way to unnecessary disciplinary action (which is prevalent in India at a big scale).

We should value diversity and understand that each student brings something new to the classroom. According to the theory of Multiple Intelligences by Harvard’s developmental psychologist, Howard Gardner, every individual has different kinds of intelligences, and he suggests eight such intelligences based on his research. This research dates back to 1983, and many educational institutions abroad take their curriculum ideas based on the same.

However, there is a dire need for a new approach to assessment in Schools, and what we think or believe are the subjects that are important. Let us get real, assessment should not be something that should be done to you, instead it should be something where you are an active agent. The student needs to develop deep learning, where they have an experiential learning experience instead of let- us-stuff-this-thought/idea-into-the-child’s-minds type of education.

Global development rests in these small hands and bright minds, and we need them to fly and spread their wings to find meaning in what they do and how they perceive life. Only then can we rest and keep our heads held high, knowing that we have raised our kid’s right and they raise the Earth right, after us.

By: Sid Shukla

The Wonder School

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