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10. Emotional Growth

by Aruna Raghavan

1. They could each write only 5 sentences on each child.

2. The first two should contain what they like best about the friend.

3. The second two should contain one quality they would like to see changed or modified.

4. The last any special insight about the friend.

5. They were to read out their reports aloud. At that time the others should not talk / give justifications of actions.

6. After all have had a chance to read they may take turns at justifying themselves or in giving their view - as the report required. I may ask for explanations.

Obviously every one is always happy to hear all the nice things. But here are some of the charges along with the defense.

1. Supri keeps singing all the time. Since three children made the same complaint I asked them for an explanation. It seems this child sings any two lines over and over again and not necessarily in tune. It irritates everyone. Prying a little I found that he sang when they played card games or Scotland Yard. He also sang when they played hide and seek. When the seeker went near a 'hiding place' he sang louder and faster thereby giving away the game. He was scolded, excluded from games by the other children. That evening, after a lot of leading questions by me the children saw that his singing was in direct proportion to his excitement or anxiety. Seen in this light, there was suddenly a lot of laughter and kidding. Supri found out what his problem was. Not that he changed over night. Because the children found that he stopped singing but had begun to walk or run around excitedly – the reaction is the same, only its manifestation was different. Now the word is 'for your success watch Surpi'.

2. Accusation : Kita makes rude noises when I talk. The defense : she always knows all the answers, I agree. But she always says, "See, I told you. I am always correct." Only when she says that that I make rude noises. If she stops boasting, I'll stop too. Again, there was a long discussion. We ended up with the notion that people would not have to 'boast' if we acknowledge them first. If Kita were to say cheerfully, 'You are right', were genuinely pleased to have a bright friend, there would be no cause for rough talk

3. Suja and Pooja bully me all the time. Again, with patient unraveling, it was found that the two older girls wanted the room to be neat while the younger couldn't be bothered. There was a heated discussion with everyone trying to evaluate the word 'bully'. Pandemonium reigned. While one brought out dictionaries in defense, the other wept piteously. The initial excitement died down and then began the study of what was really being objected to. The objection was not in what was being done but the way it was done. The complete disregard to dignity while the reminders were given. I asked if Gita would object if the reminders were given differently. Once the question was asked Suja and Pooja thought up a few hundred ways they could suggest without letting the whole world on to their 'reminders'. The word bully was retracted and there were girlish hugs and kisses freely given.

The evening progressed and with each objection the children grew to understand that complaints were not against themselves. They learned to ask - 'which of my actions are you referring to?' or 'which incident are you talking about'? 'Am I always the way you say I am or is it in certain situations'. They learned to tell what is a whimsical action and what is characteristic. They learned to overlook the whim and take on only patterns for discussion. They tried to find for themselves the reason for such action. They were surprised to find that their 'arch enemies' were just guys who had a spot of trouble themselves.

It was well past bedtime. Since the majority of them are still with Enid Blyton, a hot cup of chocolate and cakes were suggested. I happily made some. When the youngest – a six year old who had been all ears all evening - said happily: "Now I know that I need not worry if aunt Aruna she scolds me." Smoothly, they started the inquest. "Which action of yours bugs aunt?" "Oh, I always forget to brush my teeth." In a chorus they all shouted, 'Now we know how to remind and we shall do it twice a day.'

Kids will be kids.

Learning is emotional maturing. And learning is not to be confused with going to school!

At best, school stimulates a child intellectually. School provides a child with a knowledge of the world he lives in. That is what 'subjects' are all about. If in geography he is taught about the physical factors that go to make up the planet, in physics he is taught the laws by which the planet abides. If in biology he is taught how life forms, he is taught chemistry to understand the relationship between life forms. (At least that is what 'subjects' are meant to do.) The child's information of the world grows. This is an intellectual stimulation. If teaching stops here, the child comes out without being equipped to understand.

Understanding comes when he can see the world in relation to his own existence. To take a few examples: Chemistry is often taught as something that happens in a laboratory; something is poured and something turns blue from red. Children are expected to 'learn' it. Some do because they are fascinated. Though no one said in so many words, it was, for these children, a near miracle. Those who did not see the poetry in it have never seen chemistry at work. A child is taught that when he puts food in his mouth, the saliva breaks down the carbohydrates into sugar and starch, that he actually sees everything upside down but the impulses are so fast, the reaction of the brain so fast, the response so great that we never know that we see things upside down! That in all its lifetime the brain knows without actually experiencing, is a marvel. The brain that stores the pleasant and unpleasant sensations, that records the likes and dislikes of the tongue, the nose, the ear and the eye - is actually only remotely in 'contact' with the world outside …a wonder. Long before TV companies created the remote, we already had one! All this can be taught as pieces of dry information or as exciting discovery. And this discovery is not only of the world in relation to oneself; it is really the discovery of the world IN ONESELF. Suddenly, one does not have to go to a lab to learn chemistry– it is in us;

Electricity is not only in wires, but also in the impulses that are transmitted to the brain;

That, just as sea-water pushes the debris on to the land, so does our blood leave behind the 'debris' in the kidneys;

Pain is not trouble, but essential for the remote sensing brain to know that something is wrong and try to rectify it;

If a child is taught all his 'subjects' thus, there will be in him an everlasting love for knowing; because with every knowing comes an understanding.

With every understanding comes a heart so large that it can appreciate the similar and the different. To see beauty and wonder everywhere is to be in a joyous frame. Learning is life long. With every experience our knowledge grows, our perception widens and our later actions are better than the old ones.

In schools today, with the syllabi designed as they are, teaching is becoming more mechanical, there is little thought for such work. It falls on the parents. It is as though the society has divided itself; school for information and parents for learning. Sad. For in my experience, children who have come as 'drop outs', 'behaviour problem', 'slow learners', 'non learners' have all responded to this method. Learning is an unbeatable therapy.

When you teach your child, or should we say when you learn with your child, begin from the near to the far. Here are some examples as starters. The rest – as with everything else – is practice.

Compare the water tube in the garden to the arteries in the body; they both take nourishment. Compare the sponge to the roots of the trees – they both absorb.

Compare the sense of smell in a dog, an elephant and your child's!

The idea that the volcano, thought of as destructive, was the cause of the first amino acids!

The idea that planets need not be solid at all – look at Jupiter!

The idea that Chennai Central to Tambaram vertically is the approximate height of the Everest! That half the cake for the younger brother is no bigger than his own– a good way to introduce geometrical shapes, size, area and volume!

The idea that though dogs may hang their tongues out with impunity he himself may not!

In each example, you could detail the why and how, as much as you can and wish. You'd find it fun to read up so that you can teach your child. If you can laugh with your child as you help him learn, you are a wonder yourself!

Aruna Raghavan can be contacted at: Dit e-mailadres is beschermd tegen spambots. U heeft Javascript nodig om het te kunnen zien.