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Falling off the wagon

The two types of pressure that can lead to long-term harm for children, when it comes to education is Peer Pressure and Parental Pressure. Peer pressure takes effect when children or young adults take up unfavourable positions due to either the influence of their friends or due to the fear of being left out. Most children who have families that are understanding in nature and those that want their children to be independent tend to have kids who don’t succumb to peer pressure, but if the child is subjected to the other type of pressure; then there is a higher likelihood that that will succumb to peer pressure.

 

To explain this better, let’s look at some examples. George is a mediocre student, who gets average grades but is great at team-based activities and sports. His parents are super proud of him and understand that he is trying his best at school and they are supportive towards his sporting efforts. Philip, on the other hand, is a high-achiever and everything looks great on the surface. But Philip has to deal with “tiger parenting”; his parents expect nothing but perfectionism, and he also has to deal with the fact that he is being left out by everyone. So on one fine morning, he has a conversation with a kid who goes to the same school as him. On the way to the school, the kid flips out a cigarette and lights it up. Philip for the first time in his life is asked whether he wants something; for the first time, he’s given a choice. Philip takes the cigarette but coughs on his first attempt; but after the longest time, he feels good. The kid who walked with him to school, makes this a habit and slowly Philip moves on to alcohol at a young age followed by drugs; his grades start to slip, and he becomes everything that his parents feared.

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So the important thing to learn from the two above examples is that parents need to understand that their children need room to learn and make mistakes and more importantly have the freedom to do what they love when it comes to education. Peer pressure isn’t something that can be controlled, but the urge to indulge in the activity is something that can be controlled with the right type of parenting. Just remember that your children are not born to fulfil your dreams and expectations, but they are born to find their own way.

Why are we still celebrating fear?

Design Thinking essentially emphasises the importance of making mistakes and being able to learn from them through a cyclic approach. Such a system can be extremely beneficial for early childhood education as it will allow for children to learn from mistakes and embrace the joys of learning.

The reason I gave that introduction is that children these days are so worried about grades and academic achievements that they fail to learn and develop as individuals. I recently visited my nephew who I hadn’t seen for the past year; he was in grade 6 when I last met him. My nephew wasn’t the quickest of learners, but if he understood a particular topic, he can apply it in real life and see the results. But when I did meet him after a year, he was so afraid to learn new things and experience new concepts because it was driven into him that being perfect is more important than having fun at school. That fear he is holding on to now is actually being celebrated by his teachers because they believe that fear is an important asset to have when it comes to getting good grades.

nervous child

But experts believe that such a system is actually defeating the purpose of education. What sort of society are we building if fear is going to become the prime motivator? Competitiveness is an important aspect, but not in a setting that promotes curriculum excellence. Curriculum excellence is a concept wherein we are forced into a box and shackled by fear. What the world and my nephew need right now is a large dose of creative confidence. Creative confidence emphasises the need to have fun when you learn. Creative confidence takes that box and kicks it open; old-school administrators will believe that that box can become like a Pandora’s box without confines, but a lot of experts and innovators believe that creativity is going to ooze out when the box is pried open.

 

So the question that arises is, how are we supposed to get from point A to point Z without having to go through 25 other rungs. The answer is quite simple; we give students the one thing that they have been deprived of since the beginning of time; the ability to choose. Some children love how the present system works while some children hate that they have to go through a system that doesn’t entice them to learn. The question that I am going to leave you with is as follows: How long are we going to judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree?

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