Friday, December 07, 2007

John Holt, How Children Learn

Birds fly, fish swim, man thinks and learns. Therefore, we do not need to motivate children into learning by wheedling, bribing or bullying.We do not need to keep picking away at their minds to make sure they are learning. What we need to do, and all we need to do, is bring as much of the world as we can... into their lives; give children as much help and guidance as they ask for; listen respectfully when they feel like talking; and then get out of the way. We can trust them to do the rest.


Ruhi hardly slept last night in her excitement about her school Play at Kamani. She sprang out of bed and was ready in a jiffy this morning. I must mention here that it is quite a chore to get her up and ready for school on most ordinary mornings. They had the full dress rehearsal today. Ruhi knew all along that she was going to be a clown in the play but when I went to fetch her back this afternoon she had a glum expression and looked quite comical with her cherry red painted nose, dark pink circles on both cheeks and her large sad eyes. I had parked the car quite some distance away and on the way, a bus full of school kids hooted and waved when they saw her and that was the cue for those tears which had just been waiting to pour out. She was inconsolable.

My heart broke when she said she was so upset that all the other kids had such nice costumes but she had to wear a clown's dress. She said she wanted to be a Penguin or a Fairy instead like Rhea and Trisha. She said her teacher had promised to wash the Clown makeup from her face and then forgot to do it and how could she. I told her that everyone loved a Clown and that Clowns make sad people happy but she wouldn't listen. I started speculating in my mind how they could have chosen this shy little sombre child to play a clown ! And then I realised I was once again trying to carry her cross for her. I know she has to learn to accept that that life also offers lemons. But my heart bled when she cried.

I suddenly remembered I had seen her friend Rivan Mehra walking out of the auditorium rather sheepishly with green make up on his face. When I asked she said he was to play a Frog and that in fact Rivan Mehra looked the silliest of them all. I told her was she not glad she wasn't a frog instead of a Clown. She thought for a while and said she was really glad and then asked for some wet tissues from me to scrub off the red paint from her nose.

Tomorrow is the play and as part of the PTA I have to mind the very last rows of the Hall. I cry shamelessly every year when I see her up on stage and I don't know why I cry. I am glad I wouldn't probably be able to see her from back there. But on Sunday I get to mind the first few rows.

God knows I need help to survive her growing up. :)

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