Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Crying Need for Creativity

This blog is written by guest blogger Ms Vandana Modal Dewan an 'edumother', a mother who believes in change in the education system for our children.

The crying need for Creativity in Education!

-          By Vandana Mohal Dewan

As we hurtle towards the end of another year, I see myself staring at an abyss of sorts, everything so murky and unclear. No, it’s not a mid-life crisis; it’s just a mom-life crisis. You see I am a mom second time over and in a few months’ time my little one will enter the portals of primary school. A time to be thrilled, no doubt, but yet all I feel is trepidation in my heart.

It’s got nothing to do with long hours or heavy bags; it’s to do with what she goes through in those long hours with the contents of the heavy bag.

I see her so happy right now sharing with me all these tiny booklets that she gets from Podar Jumbo kids, where the school has bothered to create tiny little stories about each alphabet that they teach. It’s such a joy to read it out with my daughter Maahi, who loves it when she spots something familiar and even more when she reads them out to me….she makes up words for the pictures as she goes along….telling the story pretty much clearly, just on the basis of the visuals.

Obviously with this kind of a creative approach, my daughter today knows more than probably I did at her age. We were taught A for Apple, B for Ball and all we had to do was mug up the letters, then spelling like cat, mat, fat etc. She on the other hand knows the sound of each letter and various words that can be formed with the sound. She recollects how to write the letter. To her these letters are little adventures she goes on!

She isn’t exceptionally bright, or exceptionally slow…she is just a little 4 year old baby who sees the world with amazement soaking up all the things that are there in her experience. She is moody, lot of times she doesn't want to do Homeplay, but that doesn't make her feel that her “princess” Nidhi Teacher or “oh-so-beautiful” Rukhsar Teacher will scold her or say anything that would hurt her feelings. They will always love her, give her cards that say “we missed you” and life will continue, happy and joyful.

Well, not really, it won’t be the same a few months down in Grade1.

Suddenly in Grade1, with a choice of a board -- CBSE, ICSC or CIE – I fear to see an end to the creative approach to education that I see in Jumbo kids. We have tried the first two boards for my son, so now for our daughter, we have chosen CIE. It’s an unknown entity to me, so I am ambivalent about it.

So, is this fear unfounded? Well, I am comparing my son, Arjun’s experience, now in Grade 7, to what I am hoping will not be repeated by Maahi. School is a place Arjun goes to read various chapters, practice some Maths & Science and come back. His learning happens outside school, from the Internet, through the papers and magazines that he reads, through the stories we share at home. School for a lot of reasons is a drag for him. Again not that he is exceptionally bright or its opposite, its just the way education is imparted in schools, which makes it all so very dreary

Look at the books he reads. Horrendously written, full of typos. Pick up the Computer book for this Grade and you’ll see sentences cut & pasted from Wikipedia; glaring typos. Incorrect solutions to Maths problems; inadequate and convoluted explanations for scientific concepts. Unnecessary details thrust in history…history no more is HIS STORY it's a chronology of events. All kids love stories, but do Indian school kids love HISTORY, nope because it’s just so not engaging!

These school books that he reads are so boring that I wouldn't want to read them, if given a choice. Science is a series of learning definitions, not the amazement of how the world works.

The focus in our education system is on finishing the portions, not so much to understand how much the child has comprehended. Every child’s uniqueness is not focused on, or even creativity, it’s only about the syllabus.

Something needs to change drastically. I would say the methodology has to change; the focus has to change. Teach the same things, but teach it in an engaging, creative and fun way. They will remember more. In the words of mystic, philanthropist, author and spiritual teacher Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, who runs the Isha Foundation "the most responsible way to live is to be playful with life. It is absolutely irresponsible to walk around with a long face. Being playful is being responsible. Only when you are playful, you can be responsive to life."

I pin down the difference of approach to Maahi and Arjun’s education to this, Maahi thinks she is having fun, while actually she is being taught a concept; Arjun and others of his age think they are being taught which is equal to being serious, therefore non-fun! For children Arjun’s age its about cramming facts and vomiting them out on a sheet of paper; for Maahi its about filling up sheets of paper with an imaginary world where A & B can talk and be friends!

Now that I have talked about the actual syllabus, methodology, I now come to the third part of the trinity that plays havoc with the kids' life and, well creativity too! Yes, it’s none other than parents. Someone just needs to check out my Mommy Whatsapp group to see the kind of pressure & involvement each parent, primarily mothers, show. They actually wish each other “All the Best” before the exams, as if it’s their exams not the children. And if you probe further, they are all so frightened as to what their kids will do, what will happen to them, if they don't get good grades and don't make it through those hallowed portals of an IIT! Imagine the kind of pressure we as parents exert on children when we inadvertently let this thought skip our lips! The consequences could be irreversible!

You know it’s perfectly alright, if they [kids] don't get into engineering or medical school, they should just figure out for themselves what they are good at and where their interests lie. There is no need for the parent to add the pressure of “this profession doesn't pay well”. Maybe they may not earn as well as say a Stock Broker, but imagine if they take up a profession they love and their hobby becomes their profession. Wouldn't that be wonderful? As parents our only job is to provide them with a loving, comfortable and secure world; provide an education that gives them life skills, beyond that its what they choose to make of their lives, we just have to learn to take a back seat and life play out its course. Why the insecurity?

What is the solution really? We definitely need an overhauling of our education system, for sure. Maybe you will have some answers, since you are somebody who has conceptualised such a beautiful and creative way of educating little ones. I am hoping you can do something for the older kids too! 
I would like to end this piece with this link of Sir Ken Robinson, an author and education advisor who makes a strong case for creating and environment in our education system, which encourages creativity.
I feel, the crying need of our time are more such voices who promote this engaging, even sort of inorganic method of learning, which really is a life long journey, versus the current system of pedagogy which seems to be set in stone!



jayshree shah said...

Article " crying need for creativity" is really wonderful article by Ms Vandana Mohal Dewal
I personally liked that children should be given freedom and choice like hobby becomes the profession and provide an education that gives them life skills and encourages creativity.
As it is rightly said Creativity is the freest form of self-expression. There is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling for children than to be able to express themselves .
Thanks to Ms. Swati Popat vats ma'am for making all Podar jumbo kids children work with creative imagination and exploring new life skills.

Shivani Kanakia Vadodara said...

I personally could relate to the article as I am a Mom who has first hand experience; how the difference of the education system of a state board and ICSE; results in shaping up the personality of two siblings. It was only after my second son started blooming we had the self- assurance that he is in better hands. Thank you Ma'am for sharing it. We must make the thoughts reach the maximum audience for benefit of all young ones.

janice gomes said...
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janice gomes said...

I Ms. Janice Gomes teacher with PJK Plus Vile Parle, thank you ma'am for sharing this blog. Thank you Mrs. Vandana Mohal Dewan for bringing out this problem in a forum, kids after pre-primary should also be given the freedom of choice, the teaching technique should be as such that kids do not have to mug up everything. We should give these young kids an opportunity to explore themselves.

Joe Pinto said...

My dear Vandana,

I can feel your apprehension.

So I suggest two ways to handle your genuine fears:
1. As a mother, accept the present system as a "given". Help Arjun and Maahi to do what-ever they can to get the marks they want, so that they can get into a course they feel is suitable for them. So, that is dealt with.
2. Equip yourself (and Bobby) to "create" the adventure "Learning can be fun and life-long". Luckily, there is a huge amount of material on the www and in the bookshops, which U can use.

If U send me an email with subject line: "Learning can be fun and life-long", I will send U some links, etc.

Cheer up.

Peace and love,
- Joseph M. Pinto.
Email -- sangatizuzay@gmail.com

sejal pandya said...

I Ms.Sejal Pandya teacher with PJK,Nashik,thankyou maam for sharing this blog.Thankyou Mrs.Vandana Mohal Dewan for sharing your lil' ones excitement and learning at Podar Jumbo Kids.I feel so proud of PJK and our curriculum.Also its very true that the present education system is too loading for the kids and should be little lenient as per the syllabus so that there will be a stress free environment for each child thus helping each childs creativity to bloom out,and yes,parents too need to understand their children,their interests and help them to achieve what he or she wants.

Jayanthi Subramanian said...

I, Ms Jayanthi, teacher from PJK Nashik, will like to thank you for this wonderful article on " Crying Need For Creativity".Creativity is needed in today"s education in all levels.This gives chance for children to open up and showcase their skills.In today's hectic world, creativity helps children learn new things in their own way which helps them to devlop their all round personality.

Rashmi Gawde said...

I ms.Rashmi Gawade teacher from PJK,Nashik,I liked your article on "Crying need for Creativity". As children are naturally inquisitive the best and the easiest way to stimulate creativity in them is by encouraging their curiosity.A trip to the mall is boring untill you encourage your children to participate actively in searching for specific things that you wish to buy,comparing similar products against various parameters.Reading is another activity that encourages both imagination and literacy skills.

Rubina Khan said...

I Ms. Rubina Khan teacher from PJK Nashik, The article 'Crying Need for Creativity" is remarkable and picturousque one, which shows the real plight of today's mother for their worries about there kids, being a mom of a son I can imagine myself in the place of Ms. Vandana I do agree with her words that there is a vast difference between State board and ICSE . We should create an environment in our education system which encourages creativity. Thanks to Ms. Swati Popat Vats Ma'am for creating such environment in the form of Podar Jumbo Kids, which help children to explore and learn in an innovative way.

Neeta Chopada said...

I Ms. Neeta chopada, Teacher@PJK Wagholi.
Thanks a lot for sharing such important blog "Crying Needs For Creativity". This will defiantly help to parents to understand their kids development in regards of there interest and hobbies. Now a days it's important & challenging task that how to reduce load of child & this is what you conveyed through your blog. Once again thanks a lot.

Rana said...

Today i went through the blog of swati bopat das for the need of creativity in education system by vandana .... while reading it seemed to me that i wrote those lines .... i feel whatever is written regarding the theoretical approach of study in today's time for children is 100 % true .... today children is getting so much pressurized that they only study for completing the exams and forgets it .... what is the use of it , if the child is not gaining anything just collecting certificates. ..... we should focus on the practical approach of teaching rather than theoritical approach.... my son is studying in PJK Wagholi pune ..... he everyday have fun there and never says i don't want to go school as he studies there with fun .... he loves to read letter accordian books given by the school .... in PJK wagholi i never had to worry about my son to teach about his surroundings ..... he knows most of the things because of field trips he have in school .... even for writing hindi letters the most difficult one my son do on his own ..... the approach to teach the kids , to make them write is so good that the child himself does it .... we need not to push him ..... i wish my son gets the same approach from next year when he will start going to std. 1

Mrs. Rana
Mother of a student in
PJK wagholi

manisha dhingra said...

I Ms. Manisha Dhingra teacher from Pjk, Wagholi. Thank you very much Ma'am for sharing this informative blog. This blog is of great help to all parents for creating stress free environment for their child and support their child. These days education system is so challenging. With the help of this blog we understand that how we can reduce the load of the child. So, they can achieve what they like. Once again thank you Ma'am.

Rashmi Bhoyar said...

I remember my childhood days when the one who mugs up more was considered better than others. Those were the days for subjective exams. Later in my life, I realised that something more is needed to be successful. This article and many experts are giving me hope of creativity in education. After all, education is for making life better and not to covert them into memory card, which hods information but no knowledge.
PIE student
PJK, wagholi, Pune

Rashmi Bhoyar said...

I remember my childhood days when the one who mugs up more was considered better than others. Those were the days for subjective exams. Later in my life, I realised that something more is needed to be successful. This article and many experts are giving me hope of creativity in education. After all, education is for making life better and not to covert them into memory card, which hods information but no knowledge.
PIE student
PJK, wagholi, Pune

gai3devi79 @gmail.com said...
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gai3devi79 @gmail.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gai3devi79 @gmail.com said...

I Ms.Gayatri devi teacher at Podar Jumbo kids Wagholi.Thank you very much for sharing this blog with us madam. It will definitely help the parents to understand the children better and narture them in a right path. Thank you once again madam.

Shaheen Shaikh said...

I Ms. Shaheen Shaikh teacher from PJK, Nashik is thankful to Ma'am for sharing this blog with us,and I am obliged by Mrs Vandana Dewan for making us feel proud of our curriculum and activities of PJK.I definitely agree with Vandana madam that now-a-days education system is too burdenised and syllabus are stressful and so parents need to be aware of syllabus of their children and should know interests of their children in achieving their goal.

sejjal dave said...

I Sejal Dave teacher @PJK Baramati would like to thank mamfor sharing such a wonderful blog. I personally think our Education System Needs To Be Improved as Education plays an important role in our society, which is the key of success for our future. ... Therefore, education system shall be considerate seriously.Children in today's education system are forced too heavily on the texts of science and not enough emphasis is put on critical thinking as well as importance of it .....
But as a PJK teacher im really proud that we give choices to our children so that we as a teacher n also parents can come to know about the interest of the child.