Teaching our children to ‘live’
It was during one of the career counselling sessions that I happened to interact with a third-year engineering student who came to me because he was unsure of the choice that he made for his education, he felt he did not like what he is doing and will never be successful. In due course of my interaction with him I realized that he had no clue of the scope or opportunities of the stream he had chosen and neither the parents. When asked how was the decision taken, the student’s reply was, the course sounded different and like most of the parents, they replied, we have never enforced our decisions on our child, we left it to him, it was his choice. It is a good gesture to let children make decisions about their career but as parents, don’t you think it is our responsibility to teach them how to make decisions, take the ownership of the decisions made and stick to them.
I would like to quote another incident here, a few weeks back, as a member of the judging panel at the ‘Intermedicos’- All Kerala medical college youth festival, I was taken aback by the way our young future doctors debated on the topic, “Is Indian fascism a reality?” There are no two thoughts about the performance of all the teams. It was indeed a splendid show but left us with the food for thought, if at all India was reflecting a flavor of fascism, is it not natural? Do we have an efficient leadership and team spirit to look upon? How many of us encourage true leadership in our children? Do we encourage team work and cooperation over competition and success? We keep blaming the corrupt political system and scenarios & nothing being done for the people but as ‘people of this nation’ how many of us want our children to make a change to this system? How many of us will have the courage to prefer our children to become a true committed leader working for the people as against heading a multinational corporate?
The above incidents made me ponder over several interactions that I have had with children of different age groups and their parents and here’s what I feel.
Educational institutions across the country have been focusing on educational quality which is typically limited to educational attainment and improvement in test scores. Now the critical question is what learning outcomes are truly relevant for your child? Academic achievement, Workforce readiness? employment readiness? Social & Emotional skills? Practical life skills? In my opinion it is a holistic development that your child needs, as schools engage and encourage your children primarily towards academic excellence, as parents, it is for us to take up the responsibility to inculcate certain very important life skills in our children- communication, critical thinking, creativity, self-management, personal hygiene, perseverance, decision making, accepting change, emotional balance, handling stress, household chores, home repairs, basic banking skills general awareness about the self and the surroundings and many more.
All of us are aware of Mr. Gopalakrishnan and Mrs. Vijayalakshmi from Palakkad district, who never believed in the present system of formal schooling and chose not to send their only son to any school, rather teach him all the skills needed for him to lead a successful life. Though their efforts are truly commendable and beyond appreciation but let’s accept the fact that all may not have the courage to break the stereotypes, but our best option is to choose the best practices from different systems. I am not asking you to put additional pressure on your child in the name of life skills, it is a way of life and needs to be taught by setting an example and comes with practice. Please follow my upcoming articles in this column to know more about how to inculcate specific life skills in your children.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)