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Can we really provide what our child wants? Thoughts of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam





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‘I only want to enjoy my childhood, ma’

Inumella Sesikala in Hindu dated 08/11/09

Amma, I don’t want to go to school.

I am just a child, Ma. I want someone to tell me stories and teach me. I want to watch tadpoles and butterflies and know what they eat, where they sleep. I want to climb a hill and catch a cloud to see what it is made of.

I want to wait with my hands in the stream and feel the fish swimming.

I want to run with the puppies, sing with the birds, and play with paper-boats in the rain.

I want to lie down on the soft green grass and hear the wind whisper.


Only then I want to learn more about them from the printed word.

Only after my imagination is fired, my thirst to know more has begun, a seed of ‘Why?’ is planted in my brain.

Amma, I feel trapped in the prison-like classroom. I feel my spirit slowly weakening with the monotonous teaching. Often, when I ask a basic question our teachers say, “No time for all that. Let us finish the syllabus.”

I get tired of studying just for marks without pausing to truly understand.

I want to go to the museum with my classmates and hear my teacher explain the stories of the artefacts.

I want plenty of nature trips where real Biology classes would be held.

I want to see colourful videos of volcanic eruptions and deep-sea dwellings.

I want our whole school to visit together the historic and cultural places in my city.

I want to learn astronomy after looking through a telescope once.

I don’t want to just read them in my textbooks; I want to see, hear, touch, smell and taste whatever I can. I want to experience.

Why can’t the school make at least one such trip every year?

And, I cannot stoop down anymore to carry my school sack. My back is ready to break. Why should I carry all the books everyday? Why can’t we have only two subjects per day? Or, why don’t we have lockers like in the Western schools? And, why should I squeeze in that over-crowded auto?

But, Amma, growing up no longer seems to be fun. I see only more of homework, winter projects, summer classes, weekly tests, monthly tests, quarterly, half-yearly and annual exams, external competitive exams, more tests, more competitions, more pressure, more stress…

When can I sing, paint, dance, swim, or cycle?

When I can just play cricket or even hide-and-seek?

What happened to that minimum sleep that you always say a child needs?

Why should I always study, study?

Amma, I am scared of increasing atrocities by untrustworthy teachers, ragging-raving seniors, acid-loving nuts, perverted adults…

Ma, right now, I don’t want to be a doctor, engineer or anything else.

I just want to feel safe and secure, play and learn without any stress before I become an adult like you.

I only want to enjoy my childhood, Ma.

=======================================

The former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, writes in Hindu dated 12/11/09:


I was happy to see the article “I only want to enjoy my childhood, ma” by Inumella Sesikala (Open Page, Nov. 8). I liked the article very much, which is a dream of every child. Creativity of children has to come out from the classroom. Some of us had such opportunities. Our children should go to primary school only at the age of six. Till then, we have to promote creativity of the children with great teachers and an innovative classroom environment.

Yesterday, when I was reading the book Spiritual Intelligence, The Ultimate Intelligence by Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall, I came across the poem, “ The Student’s prayer.”

“The young son of a Chilean biologist, Umberto Maturana, became unhappy at school because he felt his teachers were making it impossible for him to learn. They wanted to teach him what they knew, rather than drawing out what he needed to learn. As a result Maturana wrote “ The Student’s Prayer”, of which this translation is an abridged version. It perfectly expresses the spiritually intelligent individual’s response to the conforming pressures of parents, teachers, bosses or the crowd.

The Student’s Prayer

Don’t impose on me what you know,

I want to explore the unknown

And be the source of my own discoveries.

Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery.

The world of your truth can be my limitation;

Your wisdom my negation.

Don’t instruct me; let’s walk together.

Let my richness begin where yours ends.

Show me so that I can stand

On your shoulders.

Reveal yourself so that I can be

Something different.

You believe that every human being

Can love and create.

I understand, then, your fear

When I ask you to live according to your wisdom.

You will not know who I am

By listening to yourself.

Don’t instruct me; let me be.

Your failure is that I be identical to you.”

I thought, there is a connectivity among young hearts even beyond ocean —

I only want to enjoy my childhood, ma” and “The Student’s Prayer.”



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