Friday, 4 July 2014

Training a Child

3 weeks into teaching and balancing my sanity and my will to teach, I chanced upon this question yesterday: Do we teach our children to be better human beings or do we train them to be so? With parents telling me 'maaro inko agar zaroorat pade toh..kuchh time ke lie hi sahi' and my own frustration when I see them answering back and murmuring defiantly when I ask them to do something, I wondered whether hitting them would make a difference.
In my childhood, I drove everyone crazy. At home, I was the only kid and I was worth 10. I got scolded, shouted at, threatened, locked in and even slapped for all the damage I did and the words I said. At school, I was caned many times because of the dancing and shouting I did in class and also because of the defiant looks I  gave the teachers. All that beating and shouting did make a difference. I am more aware of my behavior now and I know right from wrong, but is it the best way?
I remember reading the chapter on the Gringotts robbery in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. They speak about how the dragons are trained to expect pain when they hear the clankers. They are blinded before the training starts so that their only sense of observation is hearing and feeling of touch. They are hurt during the training while the clankers are making the terrible noise and the pain stops when the clankers stop. Hence, when they hear the noise, they try to get as far away from it as they can, recoiling into a ball in the corner. They cannot make their decision based on their perception of master, enemy or friend, but by the sound of the clankers and the expectation of pain.
Now lets make an analogy. We beat our children when they make a mistake. We scold them to keep them from doing something wrong. We don't teach them right from wrong. Instead, we train them to expect anger, shouting and pain when they do something undesirable. It is not until they are teenagers that they learn right from wrong on their own accord. Till then, it is fear which prevents them from doing wrong and not the conscience.
Now I will come back to my 31 kids at Epiphany High School. (I am not calling it English Medium because what's in a name; they hardly speak that language.) There are days I want to shout at them (which I already do a lot) and then there are moments when I want to skin them alive. I would like to say it is their fault, but I know that it is mine too! Beating them, scolding them and being mean would definitely get me their attention and get my work done, but will I be teaching the value of learning, the need for education and the meaning of discipline? I asked the 9th grade what discipline meant to them and they said we are disciplined if we keep quiet and respect teachers and do work on time. However, none of them could tell me why they needed discipline and what discipline really meant. Did beating discipline into them help? I don't think so.
In conclusion, I believe beating and scolding is a good way of getting everyone's attention because fear is the most powerful tool that can be used to lead (read:rule) a crowd. I also believe that learning cannot be done if one lives under constant fear. How will you open your mind if you are afraid of giving the wrong answer? How will you explore your own thoughts and discuss if you are afraid of the hand which will come crashing on your face because you were talking? How will you expand your knowledge if you are afraid of asking irrelevant questions? Lastly, how will you discover glories of nature and invent life-changing instruments if you are afraid of fulfilling your curiosity?
It is not fear but love for learning, not fear but a strong conscience, not fear but the right perception of right from wrong which will build better human beings. We have to be teachers not trainers. Let us learn the difference!

I am troubled by who I was and who I want to be, but I am untroubled about who I am now.

1 comment:

  1. This is so refreshingly honest, whoa. Good luck with the class Ridhs. I know that at the end of two years there's going to be thirty-one wonderful kids who love their Ridhi Didi to bits and refuse to let her leave the school!