Thursday, June 14, 2012
Sir Ken Robinson in his now famous and humorous talk ‘Schools kill Creativity’ (http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html) narrated the poignant tale of Gillian Lynne, a prodigious dancer and choreographer. In the 1930s, as a young student, Gillian was believed to have ADHD .Her talent for dancing was discovered by a doctor to whom her mother had taken to have her assessed. He made the observation, ”she isn’t sick, she’s a dancer” and recommended putting her in a dancing school, which her mother did and the rest as they say is history. She worked on several Broadway productions and later started her own dance company, making her a multi-millionaire.
But rather than blaming schools for undermining talent, I believe it’s the system and the society that needs to be blamed. This year, the government has made it compulsory for schools to execute the RTE act. But rather than shoving education down the throats of children, it would have been more sensible to establish vocational schools instead, with an emphasis on life and job skills. Now, don’t get me wrong! I am a strong crusader of education and academic excellence. But as a teacher as well as in my personal life, I have seen many kids who struggle with academics. One of my sister’s friend has a son who is brilliant in craft work and making models. But he is a non- performer in school and is totally uninterested in Math and Science. Yet, he is forced to go to tuitions in order to get better grades.
I was fortunate to work in a school that not only catered to but was also emphathetic to children with learning difficulties. A student, who came after spending 4 years in another highly reputed school, was found to be dyslexic. Her parents had no clue about her problem and were in shock when informed of it. They found it hard to accept that she would not excel in academics as some of the difficulties persist for life. Another student with LD, struggled with language and Math, but was a district level swimmer. In spite of the parents being adviced to encourage him in his swimming, his swimming lessons have been stopped and he now goes thrice a week for remedial classes. These parents undergo a lot of agony worrying about their future as there is no future without at least a’ 10th pass certificate’. And the worst-affected are parents of autistic children. They move their kids from one school to another in the hope that they will fit into a mainstream classroom somewhere, unable to accept that they probably never will.
These children and their parents would be spared of their misery if there was a system with schools that groomed their talents or taught them life skills with just a basic knowledge of literacy and Math. But most important of all, we, as a society need to be open up our mind and heart to accept them.