In school or in home all a child wants is to be treated as an individual by accepting his beliefs and ways of learning. He needs space to grow with his own pace and in his own style.
I am just a student in your class. For me the most important person in your class is “ME”. But sometimes I feel I am not given this importance. Sometimes, the subject, performance, comparison and the way of learning become more important.
While all of these might be important, what I think, what I feel, what my beliefs are, what I like – the ME – is still the most important to me. Also, since I am the one who has to learn, making me the center of learning would obviously make learning so much more exciting and meaningful for me.
Incorporating elements of self-intelligence in the ways of learning should be the pre-requisite of all schooling.
Here is a list of ideas that ‘me’ (as a student) wants to share with you, so that you can use my self-intelligence to make learning much more effective for ME!
Perhaps the most important and the most missed aspect of self-intelligence is my feelings. Schools often operate as if feelings have no place in the class; that I can leave them outside the school gate. But I go through all kinds of emotions and the ones that the teacher needs to take care especially are anxiety, fear, helplessness, loneliness etc.
I had one teacher who would always ask, ‘how we were feeling’ and then spend time patiently listening to our oft crude expressions of these feelings. She would go around and make tactile contact with us as each one of us spoke, soothing our emotions. No wonder I was in her class with my full heart.
Give me space to bring my own experiences. I want to relate things to my own life. I want to relate each and every thing to me. I like to give context to all learning and what better context then my own journey. Example: I like it when my teacher builds activities around what I have seen, done, heard about. Sometimes she tells us a day in advance – “Tomorrow we are doing an activity with shadows. Tonight, play with a torch and make many shadows. Observe what your shadow looks like when you walk in the sun or into a room with light.”
My experiences are my life and hence I am learning from them all the time. Every experience can be used. If the more of what we learn is connected to my experiences, the more interesting and relevant it becomes to me. What I haven’t experienced outside the class, the teacher can make me experience inside the class.
When the teacher starts with, “Have you seen this, felt this, experienced this” – I am all ears. When the teacher starts with “Remember when you did this, made that, met them” – I am already interested. And when the teachers call me – “Would you like to do/see/experience/make etc. I am excited.
Once I have experienced something, guide me to be aware. Give me the sensitivity to sink into my senses and receive the now. Give me the joy of suspending thought and just being with my experience. This is really helpful. Ask me to see more, hear more, feel more, and simply be more. Push me to close my eyes when my sight is distracting. Push me to touch when tactile is vibrating. Push me to listen when I am only hearing.I like it when we get materials to work with – we are told not to start the activity immediately, rather we are encouraged to just be with the material – feel it, observe it, almost meditate on it and once we are one with the material we start the work.
Give me also the ability to be aware of and question my own beliefs. Make me realize how my beliefs can limit me. Show me that the very ability to think can make me assume, conclude erroneously, draw faulty inferences, reject what I could be embracing and vice versa. Do this by pointing out events and results that are contrary to my beliefs. Example: I was complaining that I can’t climb (the tree), when I was reminded how I had climbed the slide from the slope side. This helped me break my belief and try the tree afresh.
Help me also become aware of my strengths and weaknesses and use my strengths and special abilities. Use my strengths to encourage me, use my strong abilities to make to make me feel good about myself. I have seen a poster in my school that says, “Children who like themselves like to excel themselves”. Help me like myself.
My favourite teacher asks me for my likes and preferences and values them. She also gives me choices which makes me feel great that I am deciding.
A simple request – give me time to think. When you give a task or when you ask a question give me time to think. If the others answer too soon this disrupts my thinking – so give me time to think. Others’ thoughts are important, but mine are more important to me. I will digest others’ thoughts after I have ruminated over my thoughts. Sometimes my thoughts are unrelated, some confused, sometimes ‘wrong’, sometimes irritating. But they are my thoughts – my core source of learning.
I like thinking breaks. When a teacher asks a question she can hold a sign in her hand which says THINK. After few minutes she puts up a sign which says TALK
Give me opportunities to think. Please confuse me, agitate me, stimulate me. I like to think, though not necessarily the same way as you. I like to get lost so that I can experience the joy of finding and discovering. Many times I like to go astray, not take the beaten path. Push my thinking off the road. Help me enjoy the folds of exploration in which learning lies. Example: I liked how aunty gave us yellow paper and yellow crayons to draw on. We all struggled – but it was fun!
Right in the first few years of life we get so used to being assessed by others that many of us lose the ability to assess ourselves, fairly. But whether it is praise or criticism, if the first line of assessment comes from me then not only do I become more objective about my efforts/ results but I am also able to take others’ views in a more balanced way. The importance of self esteem dawned on me when I took my work to my teacher and instead of commenting she asked, “What do you like about your work?” “How many stars will you give it?” How would you like to do it next time?, and so on.
Our teacher asked us to keep a daily journal. Yes, all 4 year olds in our school keep a daily dairy. All we have to do is, at the end of the day draw in it – how we are feeling (there is a reference feeling chart), what we liked that day, what we didn’t and so on. The diary is not shared with anybody – it is just a place to put our private thoughts. What a wonderful way to value the ME.
Finally, accept me for who I am. Tell me that that I am a unique individual. Tell me that I do not need to be ‘like’ anybody else. Tell me that the world exists because each one of us exists as the way we are. Tell me the world is beautiful because I am different. Tell me we are all the same because we are all different.