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Are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Throwing Baby out with bath waterI have always kept my eyes and ears open for interesting articles on how children learn as a mother of two school going kids,  and how different systems across the world impart learning to children. Two articles I read recently caught my attention. One was an article in New York Times that debunked a lot of currently held beliefs (in the US) and, among other things, suggested that assessments were a good way to check learning effectiveness. Close on the heels of this article,  I came across another interesting one written by an American lady who had raised her kids in China. The article started with how the focus on tests and memorizing started very early in China and was sometimes hard on the kids. She also contrasted the Asian parents’ attitude, of wanting more assessments,  with that of westerners who felt their kids were being subjected to too much.

Interestingly the article goes on to talk about how her kids, now in their late teens,  have nothing but fond memories of their schooling in China as they never looked at assessments as assessments. Also, her son who was put through the “flash card treatment” before he was reading- ready, became the most voracious reader in their family.
The article then talks about the current thinking in the US about wanting to reinstate some level of assessments into the system. So, then, coming now to our own Indian system- today there is a lot of debate on whether our Indian system lays too much emphasis on tests and exams; we want to move from marks to grades, we don’t want exams till class 5, and so on.
I meet a lot of young parents who want their kids to study in a system that is “different” from the way they studied etc etc. I am beginning to wonder whether we are unwittingly throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Should we not preserve what is good about our system while emulating the many good ideas from the west, like holistic learning, emphasis on doing and projects etc. It would be great to have a debate as I am sure everyone who reads this will have a point of view on this. Over to you………..


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Sudha Kumar is a marketing professional and runs a marketing services firm, Prayag Consulting. She has made her foray into publishing through ParentEdge. Over the last two decades, she has learnt a thing or two about being a working mom. That said, her views on parenting continue to evolve, as she learns from her experiences, reading, and now, from her children!

One thought on “Are we throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

  1. Ramya

    No doubt, a quiz or worksheet certainly helps to assess how well a child has learnt something. The problem, according to me, is when this is compared to another’s performance – either by the child herself or by the adult. Then the focus shifts to who has done better, rather than how the areas of weakness can be tackled.

    Especially with young children, below 10, should she really worry about the fact that her friend got the first ‘rank’ and she did not ?


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