Let’s not teach our children, let’s learn from them

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Nowadays, children are exposed to tech and online games from a very early age by parents because they don’t want their kids to lag behind other children. But instead of tech, the writer says, let’s give our kids the power of imagination by gifting them books.

A few days ago, I was at my daughter’s parents-teacher meeting, which incidentally was on one of those days when Book Fair was going on in the capital. During the conversation, a teacher casually asked, “How many of the parents have been to Book Fair or are planning to go?”

None (Of course, I was the exception. My sheer love for books is well-known to my peers and friends). I was appalled to see, in a class, where close to 85 per cent of kids’ parents were educated and active professionals, working in popular fields like information technology, accountancy and management, none was into books. While returning from the school, a thought just came to my mind – had teacher asked, “How many of your kids play online games like subway surfer, temple run?” I am sure, the same 85 per cent, or may be more, would have raised their hands, that too gleefully, with chest widened with pride. As if a child has won a cup in a race of being cool and the happiness of parents know no bound.

I was wondering, as a parent where are we heading to? Are we not falling into false sense of pride? Majority of us didn’t really figure out what we actually wanted to do in our lives till quite late in our lives and career, and gave into societal and peer pressure and became a part of rat race. Every day, we read in newspapers, how many of the IT professionals are actually not happy in their jobs, how their 4” X 5” cubicle and 9-5 jobs are sucking their life out of them. They wanted to leave their careers but have chosen to stick around, all because of false sense of pride. IT job gives them respect in society and a good bride/groom along with a secure future.

We have fallen prey to this false sense of pride in our lives and, we are not realising, we are doing just the same thing – asking these little minds to follow something that everyone is doing so that they are not left behind in this race of being cool and happening.

We have fallen prey to this false sense of pride in our lives and, we are not realising, we are doing just the same thing – asking these little minds to follow something that everyone is doing so that they are not left behind in this race of being cool and happening

I know a father whose daughter loved to watch channels like animal planet and national geographic, but he deliberately made her watch cartoons. Her daughter was not into online games, but he deliberately exposed her to games like subway surfer. Why? He felt, all his friends’ kids were into cartoons and online games, his daughter is leaving behind these kids. My heart really goes out for the girl and may some sanity dawned upon this father!

As a parent, we need to understand that our responsibility is not to mould a kid’s personality in a fashion we feel right for him/her. Our greatest responsibility is to acknowledge that every kid is an individual and born with a personality. We need to identify that and nurture them. We are not here to teach them. How can we teach someone when our own learning process hasn’t finished yet?

In one of the short stories, authored by Sharat Kumar, I read a beautiful quote, “If there is a God, he sends children into the world to teach elders how to lead a good life.”

These little minds have abundance of energy and are full of innovative and creative ideas, we adults cannot even imagine. Our television screens and computer screens are just an idiot box that makes use of only one sensory organ, that is, eyes. It is the reading that fires up the imagination, that further help our creative juices to flow. How many times we hear such questions from kids, which make no sense to us – “What would happen if we had a river of a chocolate flowing through our city?” “Is there a playground on moon? Can we football there?” “What would happen if unicorn became my friends?”

As a parent, we need to understand that our responsibility is not to mould a kid's personality in a fashion we feel right for him/her. Our greatest responsibility is to acknowledge that every kid is an individual and born with a personality. We need to identify that and nurture them

There is simply no end to the children’s imagination. I am sure, some of the parents reading this would feel offended, may not necessarily agree with me. For them, this fantasy world would make their kids lag behind in important subjects like science and maths.

I want to remind them that this same imagination has led Wright brothers to invent aeroplanes. This same imagination has made Neil Armstrong travel all the way to moon. This same imagination brought electricity into our lives and made us see through night. And, we cannot ignore our great forefathers of our history – Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, who were not only greatest painters and sculptors of their times but also noted architects, astronomers, engineers and mathematicians.

May be I come from old school, but I strongly believe, imagination is important for children and needs to be nurtured and fired up. What better way other than books? I don’t know.

The article is written by Shilpi Aggarwal. She is a mother of a 4-year old, an avid reader and founder of a travel tabloid, BLeisure.​

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