Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What Students want from their Parents?

If you tell a fish to fly, what will happen? The fish will not be able to do so very well. Even if it somehow manages to do so, it will only manage to do so half heartedly and nothing more. 

The Indian movie ‘Taare Zameen Par’ revolves around a dyslexic boy and his personal struggle in an education system that focused on his disabilities and not his abilities. Dyslexia or developmental reading dis order is characterized with a difficulty to learn how to read fluently and with accurate comprehension despite normal or above average intelligence. It starred Aamir Khan who plays the role of the Professor Ram Shankar Nikumbh and Darsheel Safary who plays the role of Ishaan Avasthi.

Ishaan loved Art. But the education system judged him based only on his academic performance. He lagged behind there and thus was a bad student. The system is based on this competitive drive of who comes out first. So nobody is ready to sit down with the student to ask him or her,

‘What is it that you really love doing? We will find a way to help you do more of it’

Ah! What if more parents did this. What a beautiful world it will be for that little child.

You are too different. We cannot manage you.

Because of his dyslexic tendencies in the classroom, the school dismissed him. The boy is then sent to a boarding school. Here the schedule is even more hard to cope up with and the boy is soon lost in it. He soon falls behind. Earlier he was a happy go lucky child as he had time to play after school. He did not mind doing bad at school. But after constant scrutinization at the boarding school, he gives up and concludes that he cannot learn and is a bad student. He even gives up his favorite activity which was to paint and draw.

A song during this phase reflects the thought process of this little boy going through this experience. The boy remembers his mother in these hard times in the song and the translation of one part in English is, ‘Am I that Bad, Mother?’

A Teacher that Understands his Problem

One day a new art teacher, Mr Ram Shankhar Nikumbh saw him in class. Mr Nikumbh encourages children to be curious and to let their imagination flow freely. This is very different from the normal demeanor of the other professors of the school.

He noticed that little Ishan always kept to himself and did not paint or draw. This troubled Mr.Nikumbh and he started inquiring around about Ishan.

He soon finds out about the problem Ishan is going through after speaking to his friends, teachers and also going through some his notebooks. He notices the dyslexic tendencies of little Ishan.

He recognizes the problem because he himself had gone through the same problem as a child. Mr Nikumbh was dyslexic himself growing up. He knew how difficult it was to grow up and fit into a competitive system with dyslexia.

He wanted to help the boy. He was ready to do anything.

Make the child’s parents understand

He then decided to take a trip to the boy’s house in Mumbai and to speak to his parents there to further understand the problem and see their perspective on it.

He arrives at Ishan’s home in Mumbai and is welcomed by Ishan’s parents. Ishan’s mother shows him her son’s room. There professor Ram Shankar Nikumbh observes a beautifully painted wall of shooting stars, in a galaxy of colors.

He also goes through a flipbook that Ishaan had made and some of his other drawings and inventions. Mr Ram keeps observing all of this, and is amazed by the creativity and imagination of this little boy.

Discussion with Ishan’s Father

Then he sits down to have a discussion with Ishan’s father, who starts off by telling him that Ishan was a very naughty child growing up. He was doing horribly at school and we had to send him to boarding school so he changed his bad habits.

Then Mr.Nikumbh explains how Ishan had dyslexia and it was harder for him to understand certain things in the classroom. Ishan’s dad retaliated and asked him, ‘If he meant his son was mad’.

Professor Nikumbh is disappointed with his reply. He He looks around to try and find a better way to explain the issue at hand.

Explain something in a language you don’t understand

Then Professor Nikumbh observes a board game with some Chinese lettering on it. He takes the game, goes up to Ishan’s Father and gives him the box. Then he tells Ishan’s father to read the Chinese letterings. Ishan’s father replied that he does not understand Chinese. Professor Nikumbh then tells him, he must read the letterings no matter what. Ishan’s Father feels intimidated and tells him he cannot do it.

Then Professor Nikumbh tells Ishan’s father that he is a bad student, is being naughty and never listens to him.

This is when Ishan’s father understands that his son was going through the same issue with the subjects at school. He understood that he was wrong as a parent to judge his child based only on his academic performance.

Sitting in a Marathi Language Class at College

I speak Hindi and English fluently. In my first week at my new college I was quite excited about learning, so I decided to sit in as many different lectures as possible.

I walked into a Marathi class and settled down at the back. The class started. I could not understand Marathi well and most of the instruction was in Marathi. So for the next few minutes I just nodded my head trying to figure out what the teacher was saying through her expressions.

It was hard. It was very hard. I did not know the alphabets and I did not know how sentences were formed. The teacher was explaining a Marathi poem.

I was lost. Ishaan was lost too. I now understood why.

A humble request to every parent reading this post. The system may be broken. But you can change it. Believe in your child. Support them. Let them Grow.

Your child is unique.
Your child is beautiful.
Your child is one in a million.

Let your child
Follow his Bliss

Let your child
Follow his Heart

Let your Child
Be who they always want to be

All a student wants from you as a parent, is your love, cooperation and trust to let them explore the world and find a mission they are truly passionate about. This can be art, engineering, music, or the universe.

All they need is to be free.

Let us learn together.
Tweet at @AbhishekShetty_


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