Lockdown could be a freedom if we invite children to the party called Life. Celebrate and Co-create the life . After Covid-19 can we declare “Co-live 20”
During Covid -19 lock-down two recurring headline from media were
“Millions of Children around the world suffer the loss of learning” (Though it was gravely untrue)
“Covid-19 is going to change the education forever”
In fact now children are merrily learning what they wanted to learn. This learning includes all the things which they would have not thought with the busy school routine. They learnt craft, games, technology and household chores.
In reality Coronavirus presented a gift of self-directed learning.
May be we can re-focus our lenses to look at it not as a problem but as an opportunity to empower the learners (I did not say children)
Self-directed learning or System-directed learning
We have created a belief system around us that children are incapable of creating a life of their learning.
To support that belief an education chain (just like food chain) is created where schools are producers and children are consumers. But the truth is – the Nature has created children to be producers. Watch a two year old rummage through his / her house for exploration. The two year old does not need a curriculum or a teacher. He is learning from his surrounding and from his ingenuity. he is the producer and he is the consumer of his own learning
As the child grows we turn the needle of self-directed learning towards system-directed learning (schools, curriculums, teachers). We convert our prolific producer to habitual consumer.
Unfortunately the schooling system has conditioned generations to believe that children can not decide what they want to do with their time. All the learning is dished out to children (age based preset curriculum presented via various mediums ) so that they can just consume it.
Yes we do need to change the education system – But not by just shifting it to online and making the child slave of digital devices (ironically we don’t allow children to spend same amount of time to watch video of their choice or playing games as that would spoil their eyes)
So this problem is not of a single lockdown because of a virus. But this is the problem of legacy of stale thinking which has been passed on to many generations.
If we embrace the self-directed learner in a child and in self , if we acknowledge that all learning is valuable then our little prolific producer will experience the magic of learning.
Enkindle the learning fire
But we see this lockdown (a.k.a. slowdown) as an opportunity – a massive potential energy waiting to explode. Imagine millions of children, young adults, a huge work force ( or learn force) and all retired grandparents sitting on the same bench and daring to go and learn something more in life. A little spark can create the biggest learning fire around the world.
Let’s say YouTube announces a new channel “YouLearn”
Asking every child (age 0-17) to create minimum one video where the child teaches the world whatever he / she knows. It could be anything ranging from “how to giggle without a reason” to “how to solve a quadratic equation”, from “how to draw a puppy using toothpaste” to “how to make pancakes ”
Let YouLearn become a such a rage that every child wants to be part of it. Leave it to child’s ingenuity on what and how they want to do this video.
Let’s see what roles each pillar of society can play to create such ecosystem
Let’s talk to major pillars of this system – Media (on line – off line), schools, government, friends and families that shifting education to online in existing form won’t help. We all need to overhaul this system.
1. Consider everyday (at least for some part of the day) children are engaged in teaching. Let it be a planned activity. Announce the topic in advance , some children will learn, some will teach, some will coordinate, some will prepare the homework assignments and some other will design the tests.
2. Online or offline, in the classroom or in labs or on the
grounds – the moment we get children to lead, not just others, but themselves, we are making them leaders, we are giving them responsibility for their learning. That responsibility will be the biggest learning for the children. They suddenly get the purpose not just for their learning but for themselves.
3. Children initiated teaching-learning can happen across age groups. Perhaps children forming clubs based on their interest – could be a programming club or art club or maps club or poetry club, etc. The idea is simple – synergy is the most potent energy
4. Since each child is good at something or the other, this will also force us to enlarge “our scope” of curriculum, embracing all learning be it music or math, embroidery or electronics, geography or gymnastics as equal. It’s time to tell the children that Mr A R Rehman is as important in our life as Mr Narayana Murthy. It’s time for us to let them believe that every career is as wonderful, that RJs earn and live as beautifully as CAs.
We as educators have the onus to open up not just children’s life, but also open up parents perspectives. We can show, simply by what we do and how we do, to the parents that education is not a preparation for career rather an empowerment to make each child realize his or her joy in life.
Invite parents to school community not as customer or for PTM but as a co-learner, co-doer and an invaluable resource people
Teachers are new Mentors
1. In this paradigm the role of teacher becomes so much more important and so much more exciting. Teachers are now Mentors – they now coach, guide and facilitate the learner, teacher and leader in every child.
2.Mentors mentor children (and not the subjects), mentor learning (and not tests and exams), mentor the joy of doing (and not merely acquiring facts), mentor collaboration (and not running out each other in some rat race).
- Not just what children are learning, but how they are teaching and learning from each other.
- Whose what potential is untapped. what children are not aware of in themselves and show it to them and to their parents.
- Mentors observe what skills and knowledge is more relevant to children and society today and welcome their inclusion in the whole learning process (for example video making today is as important as writing).
4.Most importantly mentors mentor each other, the whole school turning itself into a learning community, each supporting each other.
Above thoughts are just the beginning – the moment we see education as co-creation of life, co-learning becomes our chosen paradigm and all energies and systems can celebrate in this joy of togetherness
We have a choice – as to how we look at education, at children and their abilities and how we can learn and live very differently from what we were doing till 2019.
Start by inviting children to this party called life.
After Covid-19 let us have Co-live-20