“Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.” – Ernest Dimnet
I was always of the opinion that we didn’t get to learn all that we needed from school and it took children different modes of learning tools to be educated entirely, be it through music, books or politics. Parents resort to different measures to teach their children but in doing so, seem to forget that sometimes children need to taught less and made to learn more. I’ve been brought up by parents who had a different outlook to letting their kids educate themselves and I’d like to dedicate this to my revolutionary family of teachers and professors who made us indulge in finding out the answers to so many things instead of giving us the answers themselves. Till I was in college, I used to carry around a dictionary in my bag but now it’s on my phone… also known as GOOGLE!
My parents were somewhat very nonchalant about my brother and I watching a lot of inappropriate T.V. shows when we were young. I used to fall asleep watching Santa Barbara and The Bold and the Beautiful when I was hardly 5 years old, not really old enough to understand what was going on. Having an elder sibling in the house always made me precocious and exposed to much more way before my time. My parents inculcated in us, at a very young age to read, listen to music and watch educational T.V.shows.(we didn’t really follow through on the educational bit but hey we were kids, we were supposed to be naughty) I remember my mother putting us to sleep reading out loud from this huge treasure house of Walt Disney stories. For some reason though, they didn’t take us to the theater to watch movies till we were about 9. Lego was our most favorite play item to kill time and increase our creativity and if I’m not mistaken, I used to make different house designs till the time I was 15 (which is pretty old for a child to be playing with toys!) My grandfather noticed that I was very creative at building these houses and encouraged my mom to look into architecture courses. Who knew that, a couple of years later… I would indeed become an Architect!!
By the time I was 10 and my brother was 13, we were addicted to Archie comics, Tintin comics, Enid Blytons’ anything and were slowly growing out of our tiny kids’ shelf and scrounging around our parents’ and grandparents’ book shelves. I will always stand by this statement and am pretty sure that my brother would too when I say that we were blessed to have an extra pair of parents (grandparents’) to handle our childhood, adolescence and the troubled teenage phase. All that my parents couldn’t teach us, they were sure to drill into our heads. During our Summer break, my grandmother would make my brother and I sit down to 2 hours of learning to read and write Malayalam (my native tongue) and then spend the rest of the afternoon watching a Malayalam movie where we would practice what we learnt by reading out the credits (which would be in Malayalam of course) out loud to her. When my cousin came down from Ahmedabad with his parents, we would be forced to sit down for an hour of Mathematics daily (which we would try to get out obviously) by my uncle who was brilliant at it. We would then put on talent shows where we would get the entire family to gather around for an hour when we would do the most hilariously stupid skits and make the youngest of us (Akash) dance. We would charge them an entrance fee which would also cover drinks and food which we would’ve managed to get cheap from the market and then use the money we collected to go to our favorite amusement parks. We were very business minded like that, even little Akash when he was only 6 years old! We were taught to work for something and when they always rewarded us handsomely for our efforts.
My cousins, my brother and I have been blessed with parents who listened to really good music in their time and introduced us to the likes of Pink Floyd, The Carpenters, Nirvana, Guns and Roses, Jon Bon Jovi, Shania Twain, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Gloria Estefan. My dad was a fan of classical music and used to make us listen to Mozart and Chopin when we didn’t even know who they were and what their music meant and all of this by the time we were 12. I read Adolf Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf when I was 13 and had already started on the unabridged version of Sherlock Holmes. My brother and I were ardent fans of The Medical Detectives, The New Detectives, Chicago Hope, E.R., C.S.I., Ally Mcbeal, The Practice and The Fall Guy. If you’ve watched all these shows, you’d understand that we were following detective shows (keeping our minds alert at all times), medical dramas (opening our eyes to what goes on inside our bodies) and last but not the least legal dramas (making us aware of the judicious system and how we should always fight for justice). Apart from our home schooling as what I mentioned above,we were made to keep up good grades in school, go for extra curricular activities in school like art classes, music classes and sports and for drama, theater and singing classes after school.
Kids need to be educated about music, books and life in general as much as they need to know their history and geography and it needs to be instilled into parents’ minds. I remember my entire family used to sit down before a poetry competition when I was hardly 7 years old and hear me recite it and then collectively decide on whether or not it was good or needed improvement. We need teachers like them in our life to keep us from going down the wrong path and even when we do, their trust in us that we’ll come back to the right path before long!! I was never the best at everything I did but my parents never discouraged me from trying out different avenues. Nearly 10 years later and when all of us cousins get together, we look at who we’ve become and discuss how our parents gave us something which we hope we will be able to give our kids in the future… a wholesome education!!
“A child seldom needs a good talking to as a good listening to.” – Robert Brault
Dedicated to my REVOLUTIONARY family of teachers and mentors!! 🙂