Educolloquy

Educolloquy: A-1

A1-1

Education is that which liberates a person from

● intellectual darkness

● ethical perversion

● economic privation

A1-2
Hatred, heinous human trait

Dr.R.Gopalan

The phrase ‘hate crime’ has now gained common currency consequent to killing of persons belonging to one group by persons of another group. Hate crime is assault or defacement of property, when motivated by hostility to a victim as a member of a group. The hate may originate from colour, creed, gender or sexual orientation. It manifests as intense hostility and aversion usually derived from prejudice fear, anger, or sense of injury. It may lead to character aberration resulting in extreme dislike or antipathy.  The phrase ‘hates one’s guts’ means to hate someone with great intensity. In some cases, jealousy may lead to hatred.
In a mild form, the person who harbours hatred may avoid what he hates; it may be a place, person or group of persons. In an extreme form, it may result in even murder. A person may commit parricide due to extreme hatred. Hatred is the origin of several modern dangerous ideologies, such as militant nationalism, religious extremism, fanatical language affiliation, cultural fanaticism, etc.
Hatred in a person of authority is more dangerous than that in an ordinary person. He may misuse his authority to do hate crime. A blend of authority and hate is dangerous. Therefore, persons who hold high positions should never hate anyone, especially the persons who work with them. He is likely to take wrong, biased decisions blinded by his feeling of hatred.
In some persons, the tendency to hate others is manifestation of childhood treatment by the parents or teachers or society. The repressed sense gets expression in crime when such a child grows into an adult. Most of the juvenile criminals are actually victims of faulty upbringing at homes and also unfair treatment by the society. Analysis of the character of some serial killers of women in the US has revealed childhood happenings involving their traumatic experience with women in such criminals’ lives.
Children with impressionable psyche can easily become victims of ill treatment. A typical case is a family with a boy and a girl in which the father was an army personnel. He was uncompromising stickler to discipline at home and expected his children to emulate him. Extreme discipline in all the habits and activities of his two children was imposed on them, with no freedom for the children. Even as trivial as misplacing a book at home resulted in harsh admonishment of the child. Virtually, these children were not allowed to be children, causing extreme anguish and frustration in them. Such children are likely to become rebels when they grow into their teens. The son, when he was eighteen ran away from his home and was lured into an extremist organisation. He became a militant and dreaded extremist and ultimately was killed in an encounter by the police. The daughter, after her graduation, refused to live with her parents and started living separately in another house, not even wanting to meet her parents. Thus the two children developed extreme hatred for their parents who had to feel guilty for their faulty upbringing of their children.
Parents should be careful to avoid any kind of development of hatred in the minds of their children. With pliable emotion and mind, a child with a feeling of hatred may even commit a heinous crime.  An example is the case of a ten-year old boy in South Carolina, U.S. who waited at the garage of his house with a gun and shot his father dead when he returned from his work one evening, a few years ago. It was later found that the child hated his father intensely for repeated chiding and humiliation by his father on account of the child’s poor academic performance.
Hatred against other religion is most dreadful and the world history reveals that such hatred has led to genocide. The holocaust resulting in the horrendous extermination of millions of Jews was the outcome of Hitler’s hatred for Jews. The Hindu-Moslem riots that occurred soon after India’s Independence in 1947 and the massacre of thousands of people of both religious groups were consequences of inter-religious hatred. Medical research reveals that hatred alters the chemistry in the brain triggering aggression, depression, anxiety and illness in a person. Thus hatred harms the person who hates and not the one hated.
According to Buddha, hatred is the worst enemy of a human being. Today, hatred has become all-pervading, globally ingrained in the minds of society. This does not augur well for the oneness of our world. Therefore a beginning should be made to eradicate this behavioural aberration in children in schools by proper education. It is through education that all the good in the world arises. (Immanuel Kant, German philosopher, 1729-1804)

Hatred destroys character as fire destroys wood.

 

 

A-2

Whither teaching in primary schools?

Dr.R.Gopalan

(From The Hindu)

The spectacle of primary class children tumbling out of their class rooms at the end of the school hours in the evening is a routine occurrence in our schools. The sense of relief and joy writ large on their faces at that time is an unequivocal proof for the oppressive nature of their daily classroom experience. Every day it is the time of ‘great escape’ for these hapless children. The gusto and speed with which children leave the school is akin to prisoners escaping from the prison when the warden leaves the prison gate unlocked inadvertently. What ails the teaching in primary classes in our schools that makes the children unresponsive participants in the classroom? What should be the goals of teaching at the primary level? The primary level is an important segment in a child’s education, and therefore the way he is taught and handled at this stage is a determinant of his future educational, behavioural, and moral attainment.

The teaching at the primary school level should encompass the following six aspects.

Developing the pupil’s language skill, both oral and written.

Promoting reading habit in him.

Whetting his curiosity for knowledge and learning.

Increasing his knowledge base.

Fostering his analytical ability for problem-solving.

Strengthening his moral character and emotional balance.

Language skill

The acquisition of language skill, both oral and written, is a vital aspect of learning at the primary level. This skill influences the learning by the student at his higher educational levels. A student, whose language skill has been adequately built at his primary educational level, usually develops confidence in expressing himself, and this consequently improves his learning and also the skill for writing examinations. A student with good communication skill interacts with follow students, teachers and others with enthusiasm and without any inhibition. Unfortunately, this aspect of strengthening the language skill is ignored at the primary level by overemphasis on fact-oriented or knowledge-oriented learning.

The low academic attainments of several students at the degree level are undoubtedly due to their deficiency in using the English language, which is the medium of instruction in most of the schools in our country. Some of these students with deficient language skill acquire an inferiority complex when they join colleges and this complex undermines their enthusiasm for learning the subjects, be these science, arts or commerce

Reading habit

Textbook-centered teaching by the teachers, obsession with examination performance by the students have both effectively eliminated the reading habit in the present generation students. Added to these maladies, no library worth the name exists in most of our schools. Acquisition of good books for the school libraries is not on the agenda of academic planning by schools. Some school managements even frown upon expenditure incurred on library books. Under these circumstances, it is unrealistic to expect the students to cultivate reading habit.

Improving the school libraries with books is an urgent need for improving education at the primary level. The very concept that the primary school students should be made to use libraries may sound odd to the teachers because, this is a non-existent habit in our schools and when suggested, dismissed as a fanciful luxury. Exposure of students to attractively-illustrated books greatly kindles their curiosity and makes them read the books. Starting merely as ‘picture reading,’ at the kindergarten level the students develop automatically in-depth reading of good books. However, finding money for books is not going to be easy. The school management would have to earnestly mobilize this money from philanthropists and willing parents. Industrial houses, both small and big, may be goaded to adopt school libraries and requested to help the managements improve the school.

A book should be lent from the library to each student and after fifteen days, he should be encouraged to speak about the contents of the book; he may be asked to write a brief on it also.

Curiosity for knowledge and learning

The teaching at the primary level should be such as to promote the curiosity in children for learning and acquisition of knowledge. Such a teaching requires motivated and committed teachers. Teachers with closed minds, and who have been traditionally conditioned to tailor their teaching to ‘finishing syllabi’ would be unable to achieve this purpose. Unfortunately, most of our teachers have a ’tunnel vision;’ just as a person inside a tunnel can see only what is visible at the open end of the tunnel at his front, teachers tend to guide the students just to be successful in examinations. How to kindle the curiosity for knowledge and learning in children? The answer to this question lies in the teacher identifying himself with the students. His teaching methods should be such as to encourage the students to learn themselves by observation, interpretation, and writing what they observed and did. The current teaching practices maim inquisitiveness in our students. The endless talking and dictation by teachers, an oppressive teaching practice now followed without exception should be substituted by innovative teaching methods. Such methods should involve active visual, oral, and dactyl participation by the students. The sickening ‘chalk-talk teaching’ actually renders our students insensitive to hearing; gradually, their reflex for hearing to remember is eroded. Thus, there is an urgent need to change the current passive learning to participative learning in class rooms.

There are several methods of innovative teaching. For example, a simple picture exhibited inside the class room can stimulate the imagination of the students. This picture can serve as a medium for learning different subjects. Let us assume that a teacher exhibits the picture of an elephant. In an English class, the students can be asked to write, in simple sentences, what they know about elephants. They can then be asked to read their writings. The teacher can collate what all they have written and write the final version on the blackboard. The mistakes committed by each student in grammar, syntax, spelling, etc. should be corrected as each student reads his ‘production’. When the teacher accepts what has been written by the student and transcribes this on to the blackboard, it boosts student’s confidence and encourages him to perform better subsequently. The same elephant picture can be innovatively used for teaching other topics such as biology, environmental science, history, geography, proverbs, animal habits, drawing, etc. by enterprising teachers. Actually, there is no limit for adoption of such innovative teaching methods in primary school classes. Such teaching strategies would make learning a pleasure for the students.

Knowledge base

Increasing the knowledge base of the students should be one of the aims of teaching. We are in the world of knowledge explosion and therefore, we have no escape from knowing and using the burgeoning knowledge. Prescribing homework in a limited manner, encouraging the children to borrow books from libraries and reading them, encouraging them to participate in arts and science exhibitions, debates, quizzes, oratorical contests, etc. and taking them on study tours to cultural, educational, industrial, and environmentally interesting sites can be a part of the curriculum to enhance their knowledge base, avoiding the all-pervading boredom of cloistered class room teaching.

Analytical ability

Our teaching in schools lays a great stress on rote memory in children. Added to this, the examination system currently followed also lays a premium on child’s ability to memorize. This pernicious habit has greatly impaired fostering analytical or problem solving ability in our students. This deficiency is glaringly perceived only when our students migrate to western countries for higher education where a lot of emphasis is placed on one’s analytical capabilities or when he faces real life situations requiring critical thinking and independent decision making. The lack of this ability is responsible for the country’s proliferation of hollow scientists and technologists who cannot contribute to meaningful growth of science and technology. Considering this malaise, it is imperative that our whole educational activities, especially at the primary level should be geared to cultivate the much needed faculty of independent thinking and analytical abilities in our students.

Moral character

Every human character is a blend of positive and negative values. When a child grows into an adult, his negative values may manifest in the form of aggressiveness, hatred for others, intolerance for others’ views, excessive self-centredness and disrespect for socially accepted and legally required regulations. Such a person, in spite of acquiring an excellent education, would be a danger to his society. Therefore, to avoid the development of undesirable human personalities, imparting moral education along with the three R’s is an indispensable ingredient of education. This moral education is best given to children at the primary level before their attitudes and feeling get hardened with age. Moral education should involve cultivating personal and environmental hygiene, respect for what is good for him and for the society, tolerance for others’ religious and social beliefs and values, honesty and kindness in dealing with fellow citizens and respect for laws. Education without such moral component would be like a flower without fragrance.

Deploringly, moral education classes are not held with any sincerity in most of the schools. The teachers are ill-equipped to teach this vital component of education. Therefore, the teachers should first be oriented to handle this subject effectively. There is no dearth of books on this subject in our country. The vast religious treatises, our epics, puranahs, folklore and fables are virtually a treasure-house which can be used to polish the raw and pliable characters of school children into sterling characters. In addition to devising a visible curriculum for the moral instruction, it can be taught as an invisible curriculum by stressing the ethical values underlying the various aspects of the conventional concepts of science and art subjects.

If the teaching at the primary level is geared to these six goals, the children are bound to enjoy their time inside their class rooms, and they will be better equipped for effortless learning at higher education levels. Such an education will mould our children into good citizens and safeguard the future of our country.

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