Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Child Philosophy

As we watched the small cluster of lights moving in the sky above us, my depth perception deserted me, “how can an aircraft look so small? It has to be something else”. “Mom, it is very far from us that is why it appears small, don’t you know that?” “yes…but somehow I am not feeling that it is far away..” I was still unsure. “If you do not feel it, does it nor exist? If you hurt yourself and I do not feel the pain, would that mean you do not have any pain?” That was my 7 year old.
Numb with what she said, I just looked at her. My mind was with questions. “how did she think of that?” I have rarely come across adults making such profound statements, lest they are the self proclaimed Gurus. We underestimate the superb potentialities of the kids even though they have been demonstrating it around us time and again. Our education system is cramming the kids with numbers and information and data right from the early years. The sheer volume of the curriculum fills in the days and nights of the little ones. They have questions but they are not encouraged to ask. I have come across teachers that label such children as of nuisance value in the class room. The kids are not encouraged to frame answers with understanding. There is no time to give such attention to the students. In most schools, the mathematics problems are solved by the teacher from the top to the bottom of the black board with such lightening speed that the students have no other option but to copy at frantic speed. I have personally come across bright students that have no concepts with the mathematics fundamentals. Rightly so, when these students advance to the higher classes, they have great difficulty in understanding the subject and eventually develop dislike or even hatred. There is hardly any attempt to develop interest for subjects and general awareness among students leave apart the development of thinking process.
Long back I had come across an article in the Readers Digest titled, ‘Philosophical Thinking’. As per this concept developed by a teacher in the United states, children in very young classes were given a special class once a week where in the facilitators brought up new subjects like, ‘what is a rainbow’, and the students were encouraged to talk among themselves the way they perceived the subject. According to the author, amazing concepts and original ideas were generated during these sessions and students showed improved interests in their curriculum.
Can our education system promote something that thinks beyond creating literates and helps real education?


  1. Thinking is a skill. It is something that is learned and developed. In most cases this skill is taken for granted especially where children are concerned.

    The ability to think is looked at as something that a child either possesses or doesn’t. But it is not as straight forward as you might at first believe. Thinking is a tool, and it is something that can be sharpened.

    Creative thinking is the ability to use the imagination to invent something new or to generate new ideas. Creative thinking skills enable the learner to look for alternatives, to look beyond the obvious.

    By being encouraged to think creatively children develop the confidence to try out ideas and new methods and to experiment without the fear of being wrong or making a mistake. They need to know that trial and error, and making mistakes are vital for learning and the adults around them need to demonstrate these skills and encourage children to think again, try again, and find a new solution.

  2. "I was born Intelligent, Education ruined me.", I read this on a T-shirt some years back and it made me smile but as I think of these words again, I tend to believe that it may be true. The social system discourages young people to ask questions. A mom discourages her child so that she does not get embarrassed in public. A dad discourages him because he does not have time to explain the stuff to him (He'd better rush to work and make money to secure the kid's future instead). And kids grow up thinking that they are supposed to know everything and asking questions would project their inability and make them inferior than others.

    I remember my younger days, when even if I did not understand a certain concept, I was hesitant to put my hand up and ask my teacher to clarify (a fault of the teacher would go unnoticed too, at times). We would wait for the front benchers (yes, I was a backbencher) to clarify our doubts. And at times, the result was that we did not understand the whole concept.

    I acknowledge the idea of educating people rather than just literating them, and would surely like to be a part of it.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for being a wonderful teacher. Thanks again.

  3. Thanks for the encouraging comment sunny. will be blogging regularly now.