But there end the reasons which make teaching children easier. Everything else makes it extremely difficult and strenuous to a person who doesn't love children. It involves to stick to the conviction of what is right and do whatever it takes to help the child learn, explore and reflect. As in the Glass Bead Game, reflecting on life's various twists and turns is vital.
I will explore education, learning, schools and much more in future articles but this one is for 10 peculiar things I will want to teach my child which are not to be found on the lists of most parents. I spoke to a lot of them and (when I asked them what their views were on education for their child) most of them fell into one of the 3 categories below:
- I will teach my child to respect others and be tolerant and seek his passion and blah and blah and blah. Politically correct answers which very few parents are able to stick to. I find this lot more annoying than the others. Herein fall people who give you the right answers but do not have the moral fibre to adhere to them. Not all of them, but most of them (leading a lazy man to safely say "nearly all of them").
- I will send my child to the best school. As if education is some circus trick that is taught only in schools. At least these people admit to not being able to handle the highly involved task of educating their child. They view a school as some summer camp (one which is active during the rest of the year) where children must be sent and something magical happens to them at the end of it all.
- "Children!?" And they grow saucer-eyed with predictable theatrics. Well, yes, children.
- Sleep Walking: Well, not really. It basically means someone else is sleeping and you do normal stuff without waking them up. I would teach my child to paint a moustache on me while I am sleeping without waking me up. Or walk around with a pair of anklets but not wake up the person. I used to practice similar things on my folks when I was young. I would try to take off my mom's specs when she fell asleep wearing them (completed it in a record of 7 minutes) or pull a magazine from under my grandmother. My sis and dad were easy because they slept like a log. I could remove the bed from under my sis and she wouldn't know! Opening a plastic bag to eat the cookies in there, was another test. It might sound simple but it is not. You need to be aware of the mobiles around, the chance of the doorbell ringing, a sneeze, your perspiration, a locked finger/knee joint and a lot more. Our house has a bell which rings whenever you open the door. I have successfully entered and exited the house (mechanical locks and iron grill doors) without waking up anyone who slept 3 feet away.
- Senseless: For a period of time, the child will be asked to stop using one of his/her senses (not nonsense and common-sense but sight, smell, touch, taste and auditory senses). Numbing of the tongue will be rather difficult and I don't like playing with chemicals, but for all the rest, we will work out schemes to disallow using any one of the senses. The child is then expected to cope with a normal life but without one of those senses. This should help him/her understand the purpose of each sensory faculty and not take them for granted. This exercise would also include visiting homes for the visually impaired, etc. not to pity the residents or feel superior but to observe how they manage life and learn from them. It will also include getting creative ideas to help work with them to mitigate their difficulties.
- 10 seconds: That's all s/he will get to note down all the items in a room/scene before having to list them all out (or as many as s/he can). This could be upon entering a restaurant, bookstore, a friend's place, a bus or just about any fairly enclosed unit of space. The request will be random and not upon every entry. We will share a keyword which upon uttering either of us will get down to noting down the details of the enclosure.
- Recommender: This is an exercise that goes on forever. It basically requires the child to gather all skills and information required to serve as a person who can recommend something for another person. This involves knowing another's preferences, patterns, taste, allergies, whims and moods and using all this and more to be able to recommend clothes, food, gifts, books, movies, holiday spots etc. The child is definitely allowed to keep notes but will be encouraged to drop that crutch over time.
- Cook: My child will surely learn how to cook. S/He will be definitely fed good food and will also learn how good food is prepared. S/He will start with learning to cut vegetables, maintaining vegetables, buying them and understanding their qualities. One task I imagine is cooking broccoli to 5 different textures. Smell is vital and I will expose them to the smell of too much/less masala, over/under-cooking, levels of salt, etc. They should be able to smell a dish and know whether it is done right and if not, then what went wrong. They should also be able to use their nose to pick good vegetables and fruits as well as feel them for goodness.
- Teacher: I would encourage my child to teach another child whatever s/he has learnt in school (or on that day/week) or subjects that are relevant to that child (if he is much younger). This will help him/her understand the difficulty of teaching as well as the need to vary approaches to educating another person. I would prefer (and hope that s/he does too over time) that s/he teaches poor children who cannot afford to go to schools. I totally believe in education piracy!
- Debater: Every month, I shall give him/her one ideology or perspective and make him/her the paladin of that. S/He will be required to learn about that ideology or perspective and build logical and sound basis for following that. These could be about finances, sociology, religion, philosophy, etc. We will have discussions about them and help the child develop the talents of thinking deeper and anticipating rebuttals.
- Surveyor: Occasionally, I would like my child to reflect on an issue and meet people from various walks of life and gain their opinion. The exercise is not for the child to arrive at a conclusion but be able to present a topic/issue to different people differently and simply gather their opinion/feedback without influencing them or paraphrasing them. This will hone his/her skills of interacting with different people without much introduction and come straight to the point in a manner that caters to the individual's ability and cognitive background.
- Comedian: I will teach my child to remember jokes and perform them. I will teach them the utility of exaggeration and how it can be employed to affect humour. I will watch several comedy serials, shows with them and help them understand how certain things work to create a laugh. I will encourage them to try it out on people who seemed to be sad and depressed. I will teach them the power of helping people see the possibility of life (without pep talk and Chicken Soup) by cheering them up with the power of lightness and humour.
- Zen Monk: I would love to expose my child to the beauty of Nature and abundance of it if we could only stop long enough to see. I would take them to forests and mountains, seashores and meandering rivers to observe the calmness of things as it has always been. I would love to take them on travels where we survive on the least possible preparation and then abruptly check-in to grand resorts and hotels and then back to the road hoping that they take to each like fish to water. I hope this exercise instills in them an appreciation for a falling leaf and to live life like a feather....