Thursday, 22 December 2011

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Swami Vivekananda says that 'We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet.' 
Education is not only teaching a child the formulae in Mathematics, the equations in Chemistry, the dynasties of history or the definition of longitude and latitude. It is this and much more. Schools are the place where students get knowledge, a trait very important and very different from information. Students enter the hallowed portals of school to start a journey of learning, learning about the arts, the sciences, learning about the world,   culture, society, morals and very importantly discovering themselves. As students they are trained to take on higher responsibilities when they grow up and become a member of the society, have careers, have families and be a citizen of the country and the world.
Each student has certain qualities, skills and talents within himself which need to be brought out and honed. Some children may be good in studies some in sports while some may have artistic, creative genius lurking inside them. Actors may be dormant in a child; a good sculptor may be carved by proper and timely training. A school is an ideal place for developing the skills of different children because it is a place where a child’s mind is focused on learning. Hobby clubs and school activities may not only help them discover these talents they may become lifelong interests. As children learn and do something they enjoy, it boosts their self-esteem and encourages a positive outlook. A child, who may not be good in studies or may not be working hard, may find that he is good in a particular skill and by doing well in that craft, become more interested in attending school. All activities which give enjoyment lead to stress relief. Students burdened with exams and lessons will find that a few minutes of activities they enjoy, lead to a better output in studies too because they are more relaxed.
Physical activities like sports and games are of course very essential for the young bodies to develop and grow. An annual sports day and competitive sports tournament instills a sense of purpose and direction to the sport activities in schools. Children develop team spirit, leadership skills and pride in representing their schools. This is very important this feeling of belongingness as its ultimate culmination is Patriotism.  This later develops in doing their best when they represent their country.
I attended my daughter’s school annual day function and I saw the pride in the students faces as they welcomed us warmly and cordially guided us to where we were to sit, looking very smart and very efficient, a  training which I have no doubt will stand them in very good stead over the years. Just sitting in classrooms would never teach them how to confidently interact with parents and adults with such aplomb.  The play, the choir, the grace and the perfect poise of all children, tiny tots to teenagers made me admire them and their teachers tremendously. The hours of practice put in by the teachers and the students was very much evident in the finesse with which the annual day went off. The discipline inculcated is a long lasting asset the young minds have acquired and will stand them in good stead over the years. Many a young actor would have been discovered, many a young musical note found a voice .There was dancing stars, and there were orators. There were students who must have discovered the skills of coordination and back stage management .A superb education ground undoubtedly!
I can hear people complain about the hours spent (wasted!) in annual day practice and the children being diverted from their studies. But they should see the development in the children’s personalities. A more rounded, multi-dimensional person is a healthier person, not only physically but emotionally and mentally. These activities teach the children multitasking, which is such an important thing in an adult’s life. To balance studies and extra-curricular, to realize that studies should not suffer because of annual day and to put in more effort to make up for the hours spent in practice is a good balancing students learn.
It is therefore essential that schools should focus on the overall growth of a child’s personality and parents should encourage their children to be involved in all activities in school. Participation in all activities will aid the student in making him a better person. The world is becoming more competitive and children need skills to be able to cope with changing times. Confidence in their abilities, enhancing their skills, polishing their innate talents will help them become happier and stronger in life.