Witnessed a little balloon race by little children the other day. Two kids ran the combination race. Two children – let’s say – Arjun and Bheem. The race was : run to the balloon stationed in the middle of the track. Sit on it to burst it and then run to the other end. Second child repeats it, it was a group effort, I understand, it encourages team effort. Now Arjun ran like lightning, he was so quick to reach the balloon, but he was not that great at bursting the balloon, he was quite sloppy. When it was Bhim’s turn, he was cuddly to say the least and running wasn’t for him. But boy he was quick at bursting the balloon, he gave it one WWF punch and the balloon was completely out. Did they win?
Not really!! Even though Arjun ran the Fastest and Bheem was the quickest. Yeah even then they did not win. Why do you think that was? It was not THEIR RACE to begin with.
Bheem was not the runner, and Arjun was not the burster (I know it’s not a word – but applies). Yet they were put in a race that did not enhance their strengths. I imagine if Arjun ran a flat race he would leave the competitors a mile behind (even in a 100 meters race) and if Bhim were to burst balloons or perhaps had a wrestling match, he would have had no match. They lost a match that wasn’t theirs.
Let us see this objectively, yes there are some advantages to this. The children are learning to run ALL TYPES of races. They are learning the important lesson of teamwork. They are indeed learning that the world will set them against opponents with different abilities and skills. Sure these lessons of life are important and I cannot find fault. After all I too have learnt it the same way. I must have been put up against a competitor; I would have learnt to push myself and win. I apply that every day in my life. I DO!!
Then what am I really complaining about? I am NOT complaining. I am only trying to understand because I fail to understand a few questions? And as we all know – failing is not an option!!
Why was Bheem not put in a wrestling match and Arjun in a flat race?
Why they were not encouraged for where their strengths lay?
Why not let them gain the confidence with a win rather than face the ridicule with a loss? (Oh yes everyone was laughing when Bheem ran)
Would it not be a valuable lesson to let the children know their strengths before we introduce them to their weaknesses?
Should we teach to identify the weaknesses or should we teach them to apply their strengths?
I do understand that these questions cannot have absolute answers, but yet I am trying to look for SOME answers. How is this related to what I have been saying? It is!
I have, time and again, emphasized on individualism being important. I wish the students are therefore introduced to it at school level. It should not mean that we de-introduce (again not a word) the children from team work or not help them identify their weaknesses, it only means that we FIRST introduce them to their individual strengths and allow them to foster that.
Do the Schools have it wrong? Maybe in a peculiar way!
As an institution in a world that is changing at a blink of an eye, we are still preparing the students by the code of industrial revolution. How many years ago was that, anyways?
So do I have a suggestion?
I do! I am not saying that what the schools are doing is all wrong; I am only saying that there is just a little something more that we can do. Just put the children in THEIR race and see them run!
We are still looking to average out a student while we all know that there is no such thing as an “Average Child”. Like the Norma Study, if we were to make parameters to judge a student and find the closest match to an AVERAGE STUDENT, I am quite certain we will come up with none. So why then, are we so desperate to create an Average Student? Why not rejoice in their individuality and UN-Average (Oxford dictionary says it’s not a word, but should be) characteristics? Let us concentrate on creating an average computer, but let’s concentrate on creating an Individual Student with their strengths and yes, even weaknesses. After which we can venture out and teach them to use their strengths and cope with their weaknesses, but first – IDENTIFY the (UN)Average.
Identifying the (UN) Average requires that we first look at the child in clear light. We must understand and accept that the student may not run like an average runner, may not score Average grades scored by average students, and does not sing like an average singer and….
It means that the (UN) Average sings like a Rockstar but runs like a snail. It means that maybe the UNaverage student debates like a pro but does not understand the chemical formulas. It might mean many more combinations, but not the one we are looking for. So maybe it is time to look differently.
Once we look differently, maybe we can change the TAGS and not put the students in an air tight compartment – of failures. It is a compartment that they cannot break out of for a very very long time. It is time that we celebrate their UNaverage qualities and let them draw strength from them. After all when we lose ourselves to the crooning singer, do we wonder if he can tell us the square root of 156456. DO WE??
The (UN) average can be a good average if you can understand that you are not an average student and do not have an average brain and therefore do not shape your life trying to be AVERAGE. You are not AVERAGE and neither should you inspire to be. When the next test scores tell you that you are like the next average person, Don’t Believe it!! Fight for the (UN)AVERAGE!!