The Making of ‘Ready to Learn Children’!
Educationist, Lawyer and Management Consultant
We have ‘ready-to-wear dress’ and ‘ready-to-eat food’. Have you heard of ‘ready-to-learn children’? This term may sound odd and strange. But as an educationist I see this term very relevant in the context of teaching and learning. Today parents are ready to spend a lot of their money to send their children to the best school. The school management is ready to ensure that the teachers do their best to teach. But the key issue which will decide the quality of learning is:” Are the students ready to learn? “
There is a difference between ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’. Teaching is done by the teacher in the classroom. Teaching is initiated and controlled by the teacher. But the learning takes place in the mind of the student. The purpose of teaching is ensure what is taught is learnt. But there is one catch: unless and until the student is keen and ready to learn, what is taught will not be learnt.
In order to understand the link between teaching and learning, we have to understand the part played by the mind and the brain in the process of teaching and learning. I attended a programme at The Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential, Philadelphia, USA which was founded by Dr. Glenn Doman. There I learnt for the first time that across the human race the brain function is identical! I came to know that any child can be made to be as intelligent as they are created and that each child is born as a genius!
This made me to think: if we believe that brain is responsible for learning, and if the brain function is identical to all, why is there a difference in the quality of learning? If there are 40 students in the classroom and if a teacher is teaching a lesson to all the students, why is that all the children learn the same way?
Let me give one more example. If you and I have the same computer and the model and configuration is the same, should not both our computers produce the same output? In the case of the computer the difference in the output can be explained with the difference in the software. But how do we explain the difference in the learning quality between ‘identically brained’ students?
The difference which makes the difference in the quality of learning lies in the way the mind functions! Even though the brain plays an important role in the process of learning, the part played by the mind is very important. Many are confused about the brain and the mind. In my training programmes I even come across people who believe that brain and mind are the same! To be brief, the brain is the hardware and the mind is the software.
Now let me come back to the concept of ‘ready-to-learn’ children.
The mind of the student decides the quality of learning. Of the five senses, the eyes and the ears are the main pathways to knowledge and learning. We ‘see’ and ‘hear’ through our eyes and ears. But we do not register what is ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ in our memory, because ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ are brain function. We need to go beyond what we see and hear and ‘observe’ and ‘listen’ what we see and hear!
Let me explain. ‘Seeing’ is not ‘observing’ and ‘hearing’ is not ‘listening’. In order to observe and listen, our mind should be engaged in what we see and hear. This is where the role played by the mind becomes relevant. The student has a choice to carefully observe and listen or not to do so. Unless and until his mind is focussed on what he sees and hears, we cannot register the content which is taught to his mind.
So the quality of the mind of the student is very relevant and it plays a critical part in the learning process. A ‘ready-to-learn’ student is interested to register what he hears and sees in the classroom. His concentration is very high and his mind is focussed. He wants to understand what is taught and will cooperate with the teacher in terms of discipline and control. On the other hand a ‘not-ready-to-learn student is merely present in the class but his mind is not engaged in the process of learning.
Many parents honestly believe that once they secure a seat in a good school, their responsibility is over and that the school will take care of the learning of the child. Nothing can be farther from truth. The most important responsibility for parents to make their children ‘ready-to-learn’ children. They should prepare their minds to get them interested in learning. Lot of changes have taken place in the society and the concentration of children is dissipated and distracted on various issues such as the media, internet, etc. Compared to the time when we were students and the present time, it is as difficult to be a student as it is difficult to be a parent! In the context of the highly distracted environment, it is a challenge for the children to concentrate on what is taught in the classroom.
So, what should the parents do to make their children ‘ready-to-learn children’?
First and foremost is to maintain continuous communication with the child. These days even for the parents there are many distractions and very little time is given for this important portfolio. Parents should ‘find’ time and ‘invest’ at least one ever each day with the child. This time should be spent to education how important is education and the role of the school and the teacher to shape their bright future.
Second, children should be taught the basics of goal setting and plan their various activities to reach their goals in life. They should be educated to distinguish between the ‘useful’ and ‘interesting’ things that are happening around them. This will help them to focus their attention and concentration on studies.
Third, the parents should maintain a constant dialogue and contact with the class teacher to know how their wards are behaving in the class. They should get the feedback on their wards, whether they are showing interest in learning or they are interested in enjoying their stay with their friends.
Fourth, the parents should educate their children on the various changes that are taking place in the highly competitive world and how they should equip themselves with the right kind of education and life skills to make every challenge an opportunity. The children should be made to understand and appreciate that the school and the classroom are the only place which will prepare them for the future.
And finally, the parents should get them trained in understanding to deal with the various problems faced in the process of teaching and learning. The parents should team up with the school to make their children ‘ready-to-learn’ children.
Let me conclude by saying that if the students are not ready to learn, even a best teacher will not make any difference; if the students are ready to learn, they don’t need a teacher!
NC Sridharan is Chairman of The Time Foundation, Chennai and A lawyer by education. He had served as a Senior Executive for over 25 years. He headed the Personnel and HR functions of large organizations. Has been trained in Japan on Motivation and Productivity. A prolific writer. Has written hundreds of articles in leading newspapers and periodicals such as The Hindu, The Indian Express, ‘Tuklak’ etc. Has appeared on leading TV channels in India and UK hundreds of times on Self Development and education related subjects. Winner of Ishikawa Essay Contest twice conducted by Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, Japan. Has authored over 25 books and DVDs in English, Tamil and Hindi. He is trained in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) from USA. Winner of Ishikawa Essay Contest twice conducted by Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, Japan. He can be contacted @ email@example.com