1. Recognize the fact that EVERY CHILD LEARNS DIFFERENTLY, and hence learning needs to be individually catered for optimum success. No child is stupid – only the adults who imprint their stupidity on them are! Every child has something special inside him or her, waiting to be discovered. Waiting to be unearthed. It is our responsibility to give them a fertile environment to thrive in, so that their specialness get a chance to sprout and to grow. This can be achieved with an open-ended approach to learning, where children are allowed and encouraged to explore different learning experiences in different settings without having to adhere to the same schedule or curriculum, or being tested at every turn with linear types of standardized tests.
2. By allowing children to EXPLORE, to try out various kinds of learning experiences, from cooking to carpentry, crafting to choreography, story-telling to science projects, dancing to drawing, music to mathematics, etc etc…we are allowing children to EXPERIENCE their world with curiosity and wonder.When children’s growing years are filled with activities that they can do with their hands and bodies, their minds and their imagination, there is a sense of fulfillment and deep satisfaction. And that will spur them to explore further into their fields of passion in their teenage years through to adulthood. Finding the thing that clicks in their heart will be the turning point in their learning graph. When this happens, the learning curve will shoot up like a rocket blasting into space! There is no stopping them from here!
3. ACCEPT children for who they are and practising INCLUSIVENESS in their learning and social settings – this approach will foster genuine love and acceptance in children’s heart as opposed to the “Do what is told and be what is expected of you” approach. The reason why there are various social and emotional problems at school is because of one thing – the lack of love and acceptance. When children do not feel loved, and worse still, when they feel despised, discriminated or disillusioned by their teachers and peers, they will not be motivated to learn or to be better. On the contrary, they will either give up trying, or they will rebel. It is easier to give up than to rebel. Children need our love more than our knowledge. So give them our unconditional love, and they will give us their unconditional effort to learn and to be better!
4. INSPIRE them with our exemplary conduct in the way we think, speak and conduct ourselves. No lessons, no matter how moralistic, can replace good role modeling and genuine love and compassion for others. For these important life values cannot be taught by words alone, but by actions of genuine positive intentions. Students are not stupid. They know when adults are practising double standards, not being true to their words and using discriminatory actions against them. These will fester feelings of anger and hatred instead of nurturing love and understanding that are vital ingredients for inspiration to sprout and to grow. So, inspire the children, not expire them!
5. SUPPORT them in their effort to actualize their dreams. The world needs all kinds of experts: we need artists, writers and musicians, healers, conflict-resolutionists and food revolutionists, as much as we need doctors, engineers or lawyers. In fact, if we teach and support children to live a healthy and value-filled life, we will need LESS doctors, engineers and lawyers! So let children have dreams and let us support them in every way we can, to help them realize their dream in making a better world for the future.
This cannot be achieved if children’s right to education is not met, if education is made so exclusive that it is out of reach of the poor who needs it most. When children in the outer realms of the cities have to risk their lives by perching precariously on a rope above a river, just to get to school everyday because there are no provisions to transport them safely there, while those in the big cities have drivers to chauffeur them to exclusive international schools in the comfort of air-condition and in-car entertainment, it speaks volumes on our how far and wide the education divide has become.
We need to teach less
so that children learn more.
Cut down the number of subjects.
Increase the time for thinking, feeling and caring.
Tell stories of real history and real people.
Teach by showing,
Learn by experiencing,
Create by thinking.
Let children imagine their future.
Help them make them!
And that, my friend, is what education is about!