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Creating a Passion for Learning in Children


Instilling

Panel Discussion

The launch event of ParentEdge on 5 July had a 20-minute panel discussion on “Creating a passion for learning among children.” The panellists for the session were Dr. Sandhya Koushik, scientist at NCBS (a part of TIFR), Mr. Umesh Malhotra, CEO of Hippocampus Learning Centres and Mr. Imtiaz Ahmed, former Ranji trophy cricketer who has started the Imtiaz Ahmed Cricket Academy in Bangalore. The session saw an interesting and witty discussion where each of the panellists expressed their opinion on what ‘passion for learning’ really was, how the present-day education system was encouraging or decimating it, and how we as parents can encourage our children to love learning for its own sake.

The consensus among the participants seemed to be that there was one main reason why children are not more motivated to learn and interested in developing an awareness of the world around them – the problem, in fact, lies with the parents. We pressurise our kids so much to do what we did, or succeed in what we failed at, that we fail to notice when they are genuinely interested in something they could develop a passion for. Mr. Malhotra gave the example of the current generation of 60-year olds.

They spent the first 20 years of their lives doing what their parents told them to, and the next 40 years in carrying out their ‘duties.’ Now, at 60, many of them feel empty and do not know what to do with themselves because they have not been given an opportunity to discover and develop a passion for anything, only a sense of duty. A job that is done out of duty can be so much more than a job if infused with passion. Mr. Malhotra exhorted parents to allow their children to discover what they were passionate about and give them space to spread their wings. He pointed out that sometimes they would do a multitude of things before discovering where their interest really lay, and the great thing is, that in today’s world, this kind of experimentation is possible.

All panellists were united in the belief that it is parents, with their emphasis on marks and ranks, who take away the passion from learning and force children to simply learn in order to succeed in the upcoming exam. This, in tun, forces schools to do the same since they are answerable to the parents. Dr. Koushika balanced out the discussion by adding that while children should be allowed to sample different facets of life and different interests, they should also be encouraged to make a choice soon and at some point.

The sad truth is that most of us do not have endless financial resources and a passion for what we want to do needs to be balanced by whether it is financially viable. But the trick lies in not stressing our children out and in allowing them to perform to the best of their own potential. As Socrates wisely remarked : Education is about drawing out what is already within the student. By this logic, we should be able to encourage children to be responsible for their own learning, instead of pushing them to it.

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Kritika Srinivasan is an Editor at ParentEdge. She has her hands full with an active young child and her writing. She is keenly interested in ways to engage and stimulate children to keep their lively and intelligent minds busy.