Medical sciences categorize diseases in to two divisions- hereditary and acquired. So, what about that spark of intellect that makes a child a class apart? Recently, this longstanding quest of mine ended satisfactorily, thanks to two experiences glaringly different, yet answering the same query.
When I walked in to my beautician’s last week, I met her six year old son roaming in the waiting room aimlessly, like a zombie. His urge to start a conversation with any total stranger stunned me.
From my observations, this is a commonly found characteristic of children
with both parents working and spending less quality time with young ones,
with elder sibling(s),
living in a joint-family set-up.
Within a few minutes of our conversation, I had a list of his likes, dislikes, names of friends, amazing facts about animals… The real surprise came to me when he sang a few songs to me– or rather the first few opening lyrics of some songs. I was baffled at the way he handled his voice. What a maturity, melody and confidence! Certainly unexpected of a tiny six year old! I knew that his parents lacked inclination towards music. The bubble burst when the boy’s mother told me that his great-grand father was a renowned classical singer. “I suppose that music runs in his blood”, she said with a smile. I saluted this little genius.
Another experience was a gift to me from the print media. A news item about one Sairam Kuruthuri, hailed as ‘Rose King’. I learnt that he has acquired land that is eight times the size of Mumbai in Africa , cultivates roses by employing cheaper local labor and markets the flowers to the craving European market. He is listed among the top twenty-five floricultural businessmen of the world. “But my aim is to find place within the top ten”, says the ambitious corporate giant.
Are you wondering what relevance this millionaire has with our topic? Well, in his childhood, he was rejected by not one, not two, but SIX SCHOOLS as ‘a difficult child ”, until he fell in the hands of persevering and love-filled Principal and teachers of a school (Ramakrishna Vidyashram in Bangalore), at last. This school simply refused to give up on him. Though he came from a family of electrical cable business, Kuruthuri learnt to think differently and ventured in to untrodden areas of floriculture in a distant land. And he made HISTORY. I salute his commercial acumen, the genius in him.
The two experiences delivered a set of questions:
Is it necessary to ‘ inherit’ the qualities of a genius?
Can an individual make it to the top in spite of a wasted period in the early childhood?
Or, are these two cases distinctly unique and exceptional?
I set out to look for the success stories of some individuals who had been rank-holders and exceptionally brilliant all through their childhood. I found that most of them were to some mundane activity or the other and lost in the oblivion among the multitude of humanity.
With underlying disappointment, I leafed through the biographical sketches of successful personalities of today. To my excitement, nearly three-fourths made it to the top with hard work and FAMILY/SOCIAL SUPPORT.
That led me to the age-old question: Should we associate the success in life with name, fame and money? A simple answer emerged:
Heredity could hasten the blossoming of a PRODIGY. Unless nurtured, prodigies lose their specialty as they grow older.
A ‘non-prodigy’ could embrace success with just one tool: Undeterred receptivity (or love for learning).
Parents and Teachers hold one set of keys each to the same lock, the success of the child. Our children are special to us. Let us stop being parents with special needs.
A few months ago US Senator Hillary Clinton visited India. During her stay, she interacted with the volunteers of ‘Teach India’ Movement organised by a media giant. The project being a thumping success, the inputs from Mrs.Clinton and the team were thought-provoking. Here are some valuable points that were discussed:
In spite of good infrastructure and apt curriculum, the success of an educational institution lies on the potential of the teachers.
It is up to us, adults, to keep the child’s attention against and with technology.
Like the ‘cell phones-for-banking’ currently popular in India, thinking creatively should be encouraged and not memorizing.
‘Speaking to one’s child’ plays a crucial role in shaping the child’s life.
Highly educated parents speak a lot to their children, which implies constant learning.
Working class does less or no speaking to children and whatever speaking is done is purely of utilitarian nature.
The poor parents do not absolutely care about speaking. All that matters to them is to earn a living.
50% of the child’s vocabulary is acquired by the time the child is 5 years old.
A malnutrition child cannot and does not have the urge to excel in education.
If education is what shapes a person, it is complete when we eliminate stereotyping and encourage the latent talent in the child. This way, we channelize the creativity and energy, and we bring out the buried CONFIDENCE.
Bi-lingual education should start as early as possible and should be carried out rapidly.
To begin with, teaching could be started in the mother tongue and gradually shifted to English, as it is almost universally spoken.
Where bi-lingual teaching isn’t possible, we could very well teach in the child’s language: Education is not about languages, it is about knowledge.
Adults tend to ignore and neglect the child’s rights. We should step in and take up the responsibility of creating awareness- even within the family, in matters such as boy-girl equality.
“You never know when the magic will strike, if you teach passionately.”
May we conclude that –
As education implies imparting knowledge, no ‘interim results’ or ‘quick harvest’ should be expected.
Childhood, especially early childhood is only the sowing season. The responsibility of de-weeding, fencing and providing nutrients lies with us– parents and teachers.
Our efforts today could pave way to generations of healthy guidance and upbringing. Or else, “a failed child becomes a withdrawn parent, exhibiting generational resistance instead of lighting a spark”.