Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Technology and Children

The parents, in today`s time are very much concerned about the progress of their children and all of them work hard for the same. They provide all possible help so that the children can get best of the ranks in the school and their name can be taken with pride in the society. But in many a cases this has been observed that if the children keep doing all right the parents do not bother to see what is the learning taking place. They would even not bother about the behavioral issues of the children. If we do not consider the metros and pay attention to the semi urban and rural area where the mothers may not be much educated and the fathers dominate the family, there the situation is more serious. The mother at times, hides the problems of the child from the father because she does not want him to get angry with the child and scold him/her. Also, many fathers have long hours job and they come back late at home and by that time either the children go to sleep or might be studying in their rooms. In smaller places the parents are still not comfortable with the use of internet. They feel that if the children use laptop/computer then they must be involved in something negative and they demand that the schools should not be giving any work which requires the use of internet. Ironically, this is not discussed during the course of the year but after the result is declared and the child might not have performed well, all the queries come into existence. In many a cases, when questioned about their not sharing the same earlier, the answer given is that they did not have time. Very recently a parent asked the teacher the same question and told him that their child was wasting a lot of time on computers  because of the work given by the teachers and hence could not perform well in the examination. When he was asked why he did not check what the child was doing, his reply was that he did not have time to check that. I agree that in some cases the parents may not be able to give enough time to the need of their children, but to blame somebody else for the problem is not correct. The worst thing is that the child does not get benefited at all. In such situations, the mothers usually remain silent though they might have known about the fluctuating performance of the child through the year.
Again there is nothing wrong in asking the teacher but should it be after the result has been declared or the same should have been discussed earlier because the child might have been spending a lot of time using computers. Furthermore, the use of computer or net is not always bad because the kind of information and support which is available on net is quite a help. The speed with which the information is available is time saving and the saved time can be used by the children in some additional things. Here, I would also propose that right in the beginning of the session the parent and teacher must meet and evolve some do’s and don’ts for the child and ensure that they are followed throughout the year. From the same platform, the teacher can also convey about the assignments given online and the duration of net usage required in totality to complete the school assignments or projects.
The concept of collation government is much into fashion these days, hence, the parents, teachers and children can collimate to step into the gizmo world and adopt the rapid changes happening around. The juxtaposition of ideas must take place here so as to device such a program which is flexible and not as fixed as to cause anxiety to the child to complete his task using technology (on laptop, I pad or tablet). However, the teacher’s responsibility increases at this stage to plan out the number of hours he/she expects the students to sit and browse about relevant and related topics on the net. The same should then be conveyed to the parents, in the parent teacher meetings suggesting them to keep a close vigil on their children and check them the moment they exceed the duration. This will not only curb their habit of violating net usage but also control the voyeuristic tendencies in teenagers. The boon and bane of technology have to be discussed with the children candidly, lest they should get trapped in the addictive whirl of gadget quagmire.
I raised this issue to suggest and counsel parents that their focus should be that the children not only manage to pass the examination but also pass with promising results. To qualify an examination is important but doing the same without learning may not be of much use. I wrote a few years back that though the parents and teachers have the interest of the child in their mind and both want the child to perform well, then why should there be trust deficit. Why should parents and the teachers not work in tandem? Blaming each other at the end of the session would not yield any good result. Sometimes parents ask that they were not ever informed by the school in writing. Right, but if the parents and the schools were in contact and discussed the progress of the child during the year then where is the need of giving anything in writing. Should the school be safeguarding itself from any litigation in future by putting things in black and white? This appears to be an appropriate step but in this trust and faith which will help the child perform seems to be lost somewhere.
Moreover, in all cases the mother and father should also discuss about the problems faced by their child or if the child was going a wrong way due to some reasons. The mother should share her observation with the father of the child, if they observe any abnormal behavior in the child they must try to sort it out at the earliest with mutual understanding. The same should be communicated to the teachers concerned so all can work in a manner that the child is brought back to the right track. As there is no use crying over spilt milk. Hence, much before the situation reaches to an irreversible condition, it should be acted upon. Technology is here to stay. People need to change their perspective and have to live in a dynamic state rather than a static one. Just like the food choices differ in different seasons, we need to be accustomed to the prolific usage of technology. Today, even a child of age two or three years can handle a mobile so confidently that leaves the family members bewildered, then why can’t  the matured people make  judicious use of the same. Children of today are actually born in the digital world and grow with it, they feel lost without it as they are techno friendly. Of course, the misuse or overuse of technology in any case should be avoided, yet its realms must be explored. Please remember, the future is of e-learning through tablets and laptops, and it cannot be undone. Therefore, the wisdom is to embrace it rather than curse it.  As for the approach of children, all the three stakeholders, that is, the parents, teachers and children themselves have to follow a strict protocol of supervising, guiding and using technology respectively. The case which I mentioned above is not an isolated one and need to be seen a wider perspective.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Deluge of dilemma

The examination of classes X and XII of the public boards of the country are either over or will be over in the next few days. The students who will be moving to class XI are concerned about the selection of the subjects and the ones who will complete their schooling will be appearing in different competitive examinations and applying to different universities and colleges all over the world. There will be serious discussions in the family and the relatives will also find some time to contribute their views for the future of the children. In this process, most of the times, the most important voice, is lost and goes unheard or is paid no attention. Many children are also not able to think rationally but they definitely know more than anybody else in which stream they are comfortable and can justify their preference. I have always been wondering why do the parents get panic-stricken at this juncture and do not realise that all subjects are good and all areas of work require skilled people and the one they will enjoy being involved in. The world is changing fast and so is the relevance of different subjects and jobs. Whatever we say about technology this is here and will continue and prosper further so we should ensure that our children are well versed with that so that in future they do not feel left behind because of lack of exposure in this field. This seems to be universal to me but the subjects of study and the kind of future the child will be more interested in should be left to the child. We, as teachers and parents can extend our advice but that should be advice only and not imposition of our views or ideas on the children. We should ensure that our children get values and they become hard working but should allow them to do the work of their choice. If we do not allow our young minds to pursue their goals and realise their dreams then we shall do a lot of harm to the wonderful creation of Almighty. This would push somebody to become an ordinary achiever whereas he/she might be capable of becoming world leader in one particular field. I was moved to share my thoughts on this particular topic due to one incident which took place very recently with one of my very dear students. I must say that this is not an isolated incident. This happens with many children every year in many families in India. Even the so called very concerned parents become so much over concerned that they tend to play with the future of their children by forcing them to do something which is not of the choice of their children. 
The case under discussion has really disturbed me because I know the child so well and I am sure that if he is allowed to do what he dreams he will show this world a direction in the field which he intends to work. I would try my level best to hide the identity of the child because the parents may not feel very comfortable with that. This child could not get admission in the most sought after college of the country and due to which was forced by the parents to join a college and take up the subjects of their choice because they did not want him to go very far from them. The child was obedient and respects the parents and their very views. Unfortunately, in that college he did not get what he wanted. He is not happy with the kind of studies and the subjects he is forced to study (interestingly, he still got third rank in the course.  He tried his luck to get admission in the most reputed college of the world but could not get that also, though he has been offered by some other very reputed universities with the subjects he is very much interested to pursue). He shared the same with his parents and expressed his desire to join one of these universities. The parents straightway said no and asked him to continue in the same college where he was admitted last year. The student was not very happy the way the parents responded to his desire. One day he came to meet his teachers and found time to come and meet me also. I heard him and realised that we were chartering his enthusiasm to be killed and when he sought my advice, I immediately told him to join the University of his Choice (because he was not happy with what he is doing presently). He was quite comfortable with that and told that if possible he would like his parents to meet me in this regard. After two or three days I got a mail from him that his parents were not allowing him go there. Realising that the parents might be having some very genuine reason of saying ‘no’ I told the child to respect their decision and do his level best in the subjects and the college he is studying. I really meant it when I wrote that the parent’s point of view should be respected because I always felt that they can never do anything against the interest of their children.
After a few days the child wrote back to me and put some difficult questions to me which I find complex to answer and that is why I thought of sharing this with all of you. The problem is that they not only declined to his request but used wrong statements for him which demeans him like anything. They passed comments on his not getting admission in the best college of the country and now that he was not able to qualify for the best college. The young man is still very calm and do not say anything against his parents and is very respectful while raising an important issue. His question is that, it is very good to respect parents but who will teach the parents that they also need to understand their children well and respect their views also. In this the parents want the child to look after the family business only. His question is that, does he not have any freedom to realise his dream. The important point to note down is, in this situation also the child is very much concerned about the parents and the family but wants to do something different which will help him to do something new for the world population. As I know this child he is very honest, hard working, have concern for others and is clear about what is to be done and what not. But he got confused and caught between his respect towards his parents and his dream to do something different of his choice and penchant. His question is how to balance between the parents` wish and his dreams.
 I ask your views on this. Kindly respond so that it can help many children who face this everyday and every year. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Proper Communication

Now-a-days people want innovation in everything they do every time. This seems to be a revolutionary idea, but should we consider everything done or said earlier as the repetition if followed or done again. There is another important word used by many people, thinking out of box. I agree that it can be applied with innovations because without that we shall not be able to progress and get new things. But we must not forget that all the old things or sayings were not bad or negative and all new things will not be necessarily good or positive. One thing which I would like everyone to ponder upon is the communication among people, especially students and teachers or children and their parents. This was very important in the past, is important in the present and will be important in future also and today I would like to dwell upon the same.

It is a common complaint from the parents and the teachers that the children of today do not have much time to interact with them. The children probably spend more time with their friends or on the electronic gadgets. Interestingly, the interaction with the parents was almost of the same quantum in the past also. The only difference was due to joint family system in which children had many opportunities to talk to other family members and their mother because the mother used to be a home maker. Now the families are mostly nuclear and there are not many family members with whom children can interact hence they have an inclination to be more close to their friends. Also the electronic gadgets available are in plenty, therefore it may be considered as an additional attraction causing gap between the parents and the teacher. The parents at the same time are increasingly becoming more demanding in terms of their child’s achievements not only in academics but also in other areas. There is an advertisement which depicts this situation so well in which a parent goes to a coach and asks him to teach his child all the skills possessed by many players, though these players did not have all the skills in them. Also the parents are very ambitious about their own progress and growth. I do not see anything wrong in the desire to progress but as I mentioned earlier, there are certain things which are always needed and important for the society and one of them is what I mentioned is communication. The parents need to communicate with their children properly. The importance of this should be realized and it should not be considered as wastage of time. If the parents and teachers remain in touch with the kids in an appropriate manner, then most of the problems of the day will be solved. Fortunately, many parents and teachers have realized the same and they are trying to balance between their jobs and family. In this situation also there are certain precautions to be taken by the parents and the teachers. The onslaught of the electronic media is so much that our children get confused and then the role of teachers and parents become more important. They must encourage the children to share all the things with them whether good or bad. The children should be confident that if they share something in confidence with their teacher or father/mother, it will be kept confidential. The parents and teachers should ensure that anything which the child did not want anybody else to know should not be disclosed at all. There are number of example which can be cited in this regard but I would discuss only a few of them.

 A girl was troubled by her friends for not having a friend from the opposite sex which she never felt that way and this girl was quite comfortable with all the students in the class, boys or the girls. But when this continues one day she asked her mother about the same and asked if she was inferior in any way? The mother being orthodox scolded her for talking about such issues. The child got confused further and when deprived of the hearing and the solution at home she confessed the same to her best friend. That girl did not give her a proper guidance and thought of asking her to have a ‘friend’ from the opposite sex. She got herself into a big trouble late and when the parents came to know, they were very angry with her. This situation could have easily been taken care of if the mother had paid attention to the queries of her daughter and would have suggested positive solutions. Another child was fond of cricket and became friendly to the people who used to remain involved in illegal activities like betting etc. He was lured by their secret talks and the parents of the child were unaware of the same. The parents did not pay attention to what their child was doing. He tried to share the difficulty with the parents but they did not understand the same. He was robbed of money and threatened and was at the verge of taking his life. When the parents came to know it was already late. Though the school teachers tried their best to help the child but some harm was already done. If the parents were more communicative with this child he would not have got into the mess he was in. Fortunately, the parents reacted to the situation in a positive way and things could be better for the child. Very recently a child shared with the father the problem she was facing with a boy. This was not a serious one but needed the attention of the parents and teachers. The father got furious and wanted to take every strong action against the boy which the girl did not find appropriate. Her concern was to share it with the parents and not really involve them at this stage. Now the girl says that she would never share any issues with her parents because it might lead to unnecessary problems. Everything shared by the children do not need reaction from the parents and the teachers but every issue should be heard by them sincerely and seriously. The confidence of the children should never be put at stake. The teachers and parents should appreciate the children for sharing their problems rather making them feel embarrassed in front of their friends and other people. I am not saying that the parents should only listen to the problems and not react. What I mean is, decide when and how to react. Take the child in confidence before you take any step as the reaction. And most importantly, many a times, not reacting at all proves to be a strong and appropriate action. Reaction may be important but listening to the children and interacting with them is more important than that. Be friendly to them and do not lose your patience even in the most awkward situation for the sake of your child. Remember and remind yourself as teachers and the parents that a child is the most important entity for you and treat him/her accordingly.    

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Two sides of a coin

In the previous article, I wrote about the board exams and the final exams of the schools and advised the students and the parents to take the results positively and move forward. This is absolutely fine not to get distressed because of an average or below average performance but one should definitely try to look into and analyse what might have gone right and what might have gone wrong in their efforts. In this context, I would like to discuss about two words which are taken very negatively by most of the people and these two words are stress and failure.  Yes, many will agree that stress and failure should not come in their life ever. Also many people struggle to understand whether stress is the cause of failure or failure is the cause of stress? All will have their own opinion but this is for sure that most of the times fear of failure is the major cause of stress and this might lead to failure definitely. There are many educationists and psychologists who do not consider stress and failure to be negative but both the words can be made the launching pad for success. Some people say that stress can be of two types; one positive and the other negative. Others do not agree with this and for them stress is stress and cannot be divided into two groups. I tend to agree with the second school of thought. Stress can be said to be positive if it yields positive results and negative if the results are otherwise. Being absolutely stress free is also not good for progress and improvement. Let us try to understand what stress is. In the simplest way this can be said as the response of an individual to any form of demand. This demand can be internal or external and the amount of stress will decide what is going to be the result. If the stress taken is extreme, then there is always a possibility of negative result and hence such stress will be termed as negative stress. On the other hand, if the stress taken is in a controlled measure, then this will definitely boost the performance of an individual and such stress will be termed as positive stress. Stress can be due to both, external demands as well as internal demands. In case of students, this is mainly exam related but there are many other reasons also. I would like to confine this with regard to the examination only. The stress related to exams is due to the demand of getting good marks or qualify one particular examination. Till this demand is within the limit, the stress caused by this will be very useful and the person will be able to perform to the optimum as per the potential of that individual. But if the demand goes beyond the limit then the result will not be positive and this demand will turn into negative. If the students are absolutely stress free then they may not work that extra mile which might help them better than what they could have done with a bit of stress. Some amount of stress will always help the children to concentrate and focus before and during the examination. But the stress should be short term only because long term stress will cause problems to all. The external demand like from parents and teachers which may be much more than the potential of the child will always have negative impact and cause problems to the child. If a child has a bit of stress that he should not fail in the exams otherwise his mother may not be very happy with that and this makes him to study harder, then to me, this stress is worth taking because this will help the child to focus and concentrate on his studies. Short term stress and a controlled amount would help the children however if it is long term and a great deal then it will be detrimental for the growth of the child. My advice to all children and adults is not to create undue and unnecessary stress. But always have this demand from self that you should get the result as per the potential gifted to you by the Almighty.
Now let us talk about another word mentioned above and that is failure. Failure in a very simple manner can be said as to be the situation in which we are not able to get the desired result or could not reach to the goal envisaged by us. Not achieving the desired goal is not necessarily a positive thing but this cannot be termed as absolutely negative also. The result is very important but the journey to reach or get that result is more important. Take the example of Arjun who could shoot the eye of the fish with his arrow in the first attempt which is one incident but to reach that a lot of things would have happened. He must have failed so many times while practicing and in the test conducted by his teacher but he would have certainly learnt FROM THE MISTAKES COMMITTED BY HIM DURING THE LEARNING. Even the mistakes committed during learning or in the form of negative result are also the steps of learning. The ones who could know their own shortcomings and mistakes became a better person in future than the ones who could not know their shortcomings. Take another example from nature. A child learns to walk only by falling and getting up on his own. People learn riding bicycle or motorbike by trying continuously. From these examples we realise that to achieve perfection we need a lot of practice. In the book ‘Outliers’, the author talked about ten thousand hours practice which made many people succeed in their profession (I wrote about the same in one of my earlier articles). If a child tries a question a number of times and still does not get the correct answer it does not mean that he has failed because now he knows it very well that this question cannot be solved by these methods which he has been applying till now and there is a possibility that the new method used by him might give him the correct answer. To me this child has learnt more than the one who would have got the answer in the first attempt only because this child would not know those methods by which that question cannot be solved. This does not mean that we have to always fall short but what I meant to emphasize by mentioning the above example is that failure is not necessarily negative if one learns a significant lesson from that and attempts to solve the problem by different method. Failure is inevitable and every one faces this genre of circumstance in life. Those who learn from the failures and do not repeat them, succeed in life and others who curse the failure might get into depression due to the stress of the word ‘failure’. Failure should be taken in a manner that it helps us to perform better in future than holding us back. We all fail so many times during the day but many a times try to avoid the things done in the same manner which lead us to fail in the task. The most important thing which I always emphasize is to learn from the mistakes which might have been committed during the journey in spite of cursing and getting into depression due to the negative result. I strongly believe that life is full of uncertainties and that is the beauty of it and we must enjoy that. So, try to be happy in every situation but focus on your target and enjoy the journey to reach that target. You may fail many a times during the journey but if you are focussed then you will definitely achieve your goal. Make failure also as the weapon to achieve success.
In the end, I would like everyone to please consider stress and failure as the part of life nonetheless do not allow them to be hegemonical and master you rather you master them and accomplish your goals.