There is a lot of research taking place all over the world regarding how the children learn and what makes them to fear or like something. Some children are born brave. Here, I refer the word brave to be extrovert and do not hide anything which they might feel to say or do. I am not a researcher but being with the children has helped me in understanding many aspects of their life regarding their behavior and learning. Some children do not feel comfortable while crossing the road and the reason for that may be they might have got injured in a road accident. A very important example can be that not many people would like to cross the cemetery except the close relatives. This is because they are told about the ill effect of the problems related to departed souls. We in India find many places labeled as the point where some untimely death took place due to an accident and now frequent accidents take place on that spot. Such accidents are blamed to be the curse of the untimely death though the real reason might have been a deep curve or an improper crossing etc. but as young children listen to such conversation in the family they develop the same thought in their mind.
There can be many such examples quoted and discussed but I would like to focus attention on my interaction with a child of seven years a few days back. This experience took me back to my childhood and my experience with the children as a teacher for more than thirty two years. Though I always confess that I learn many things from my students and this has been proved right once again. The parents of a child came to meet me and shared the problem the child was facing in the class. We discussed the issues related to the children in today`s life and were of the firm opinion that the parents and the teachers must understand the problems of the children more carefully. During the interaction parents mentioned about certain qualities of the child which impressed me and I was keen to meet the child. He came to the office and entered the room without any hesitation and was confident. He did not express any excitement on seeing the parents and entering the Principal's office for the first time. I asked him whether he knew and what my name was. He answered confidently and mentioned the name. I appreciated him for this and uttered a statement that I was happy to hear the name spoken by a child because this was not the practice and the culture and most of the students will say Sir or the Principal Sir which does not necessarily makes me feel very happy (In India teachers are not called by their names but Sir/Madam). We started talking to the child and in between I asked him to eat some sweets which were kept in my office. He immediately said No to this. I tried to encourage having sweets but he was not at all interested. The parents felt that the child should not have said no to the principal so they also tried to eat the sweets which he firmly denied. I let the things left there only because the child was very sure what not to do and changed the topic to a book which his parents were reading. When asked about the book he said that he does not read this book but sees the pictures in that book and based on that can built up a story. This was quite impressive to me and more things were discussed. When he was asked questions related to subjects he confidently answered all of them. One spelling spoken by him was wrong but he was very sure that his teacher had marked that correct in his assignment book so that must be correct. Here I would like to mention that in the same book the teacher had made the correction subsequently but whatever was understood by the child initially did not get erased so easily. It took me quite long to convince him what the correct spelling was. Through this example I wanted to emphasize on the point which all of us have heard and come across a number of times that the children follow the teachers without doubting that they can ever be wrong.
We were together for about an hour and were to disperse. While the child was about to leave the room and he was once offered the sweets as token of appreciation for being so good. Again he said no. But in spite of leaving the office he took the mobile from his mother and started searching for something. We were curious to know what he was doing with the cell phone. After some time he found a video and came to meet (I was sitting on the other side of the table) and showed the video which was related to the ill effects of consuming sugar. The lady in the video was explaining that human being get enough sugar through the fruits or the food intake therefore there was no need of eating additional sugar rather eating sweets might be harmful. Though the child did not say anything but we could understand why was he not interested in eating the sweets offered to him. He was not taught this by anybody but the video and he was influenced by that. The second eye opener incident took place immediately after this. When he was leaving the office he was told that one should say thank you to the other people if they have helped in any way. He immediately responded by saying thank you. Now he was told that it should not be plain thank you but thank you sir. The child responded that he did not say sir because when he came to the office the Principal said that he was not comfortable when people address him by saying sir. Three of us were stunned and it was after a while we realized that how quickly and indirectly the child was learning the things said by us though we did not really mean to teach him all that. The parents left my office but this child refuses to get out of my thoughts and mind. I am still wondering how many thousands of the children would have been affected by my indirect remarks made to them. This incident reminded me of all my interactions with the children and their response to that.
I shared this with all of you specially the teachers and parents to be very careful while sharing certain things with them directly or indirectly. Please do not get angry with them and scold or label them as to be undisciplined because they did not do anything which you wanted them to do because there should be some genuine reason for their not following your instructions. Always try to understand the cause of the action or reaction of the child in spite of reacting to their response immediately. Whatever the children do is the reflection of what they have learnt from us. So be careful while dealing with the future citizens of the country.