Friday, September 30, 2011

Questioning, discipline and creativity


I was watching a TV serial based on the life of Lord Krishna and the latest episode had information related to the true friendship between Lord Krishna and Sh. Sudamaji. When Sh. Sudama comes to Dwarika to meet his childhood friend they sat together and remembered the days of their childhood and recalled an incident of the time when they were taking education from their Guru (staying with other children in the gurukul). One day the Guru Mata asked them to go to jungle and collect dry woods for her. As it was evening time and she was a little worried about the safety of the two children, so she asked them if they would be able to get the woods she was asking for? Immediately they asked a question that had they done something wrong. The Guru Mata asked them that why they were feeling like that. They told her reply that, she being their Guru Mata, can order them and should not ask whether that work can be done by them or not. I was really impressed by the response of the two children who could have also very easily asked why should they only go to collect the wood and  not somebody else from amongst the other children.
This brought me to the contemporary world where we allow our children to ask for the reason for everything they are supposed to do are asked to do. Many cases are reported that the children do not listen to their parents and the teachers. I remember an incident of yesterday when two children were discussing something while they were out of the class, during their terminal examination. After seeing the teacher, they went away in hurry because the teacher had heard the conversation which was taking between the two of them. They were not supposed to help each other during the examination time( the examination was on and they had come to drink water). When the teacher asked one of the students what were they doing, he replied in a strange manner and responded by asking, what happened? The child knew it very well what the matter was. It was after two or three minutes, they admitted their mistake and said sorry unwillingly.See the contrast between the two incidents, one related to Lord Krishna`s time and the other of the recent time.
 I always advocate that the children should be allowed to question if they are not comfortable with something being asked to be done by others. There are many other people also who think the same way because of the belief that the habit of questioning would help children to be more creative. But the episodes of yesterday on TV and in the school have forced to me think and I share the same with you all whether too much of  questioning is helpful or harmful in the development of the children? Will that be helpful in enhancing their creativity? If we think about the child-adult relationship twenty or thirty years back, even that time also the children were not able to ask as many questions as they ask today. The other question which comes to my mind is, are the children of today more creative than the children of Lord Krishna`s time or the children thirty-forty years back? I do not have a straight answer for that but we need to know the real picture. The children used to be so obedient to their parents and the teachers and still did very well in their life. Most of them proved to be so good to the family members and the society and did find new things which gave a direction to the society. So is the freedom of questioning important or the environment in the family, school and the society more important or is it the proper balance of the two?
Many people may not feel very comfortable with my questions, but it would be good to discuss on this issue because the future of our children and the nation depends upon our approach towards our children whehter the children should be allowed and encouraged to ask too many questions or the children be advised when to ask and when to follow the advise.. Till date I used to think that the children should ask questions whenever they feel like but now I  have to seek more knowledge on whether too much of inquisitiveness will  prove harmful? When I was discussing the same with one parent whose son was not listening to them and used to end up with unpleasant argument for everything he was asked to do,a startling fact surfaced. The example given by the father was that one day when he had come back from the office the mother of the child asked him to give a glass of water to his father. The immediate response of the child was why he should give water and not his sister who was also present in the house. The parents were unhappy and when they asked the child why was he behaving in that manner he told that his teacher had given him this feeling that he should make a query whenever he is not comfortable doing something. In the other case, a mother called the school teacher and told him that her son had taken some money which was not required in the school and when she asked him not to take, he did not listen to her. She requested the teacher that the child should not come to know that he was informed by her otherwise the child will be angry with her. The teacher called the child and after talking to him for a few minutes asked to get his bag The child immediately asked the teacher,why should he bring the bag? The teacher tried to convince him but the child refused to get the bag because he knew that if the bag was brought then he might be caught for bringing the money which was not supposed to be brought. The child was right in questioning,though at the spur of the moment,he could save himself from being caught in an embarrassing situation,but morally and ethically he was wrong.When the teacher asked him about the money brought by him, the promptly replied in a negative. The teacher forced him to get the bag and the money was found as told by the mother. Later on the child admitted that he used the freedom of questioning to save himself. Now when I look back, I think being respectful and obedient does not make you unimaginative and less creative a person but being the opposite, might be source of negative traits in the person. Debating and asking questions in a positive sense will help the children. We must be careful to distinguish between being obedient and questioning for everything in the name of freedom of asking questions.They should be encouraged to explore newer things but at the same time should also be taught to be disciplined and  respectful towards all. That can be done when we are clear about the things and the process which will help our children to learn these things. They should be brought up in such a manner that they know why should they respect others, why to stand in a queue, why to fasten the seat belt while driving or in the aeroplane, why not to over speed the car or any other vehicle and so many more things. If we can teach them all these things and at the same time encourage them to question, but also teach them in which situations the queries should be made, then our children will be able to use their potential and abilities for the benefit of the people and the country.

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