“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration” - Albert Einstein
Exactly how important are values like strong-work ethic, discipline and diligence in our children’s education? How involved should Indian parents be in their children’s education? As always there is never a magic formula. It depends on our families, needs and circumstances. But here we share some examples from people’s lives - from Obama to our own personal experiences and some other ideas from today’s bestsellers. Reading these can be inspiring and help us in coming with our own guidelines for our priorities and how best we can shape our children’s lives, values and education.
Recently, the U.S. President Obama has been in the news about his education reforms for America. One of the points he has been stressing is about the important role that values like work ethic, academic discipline and relationships between children and their parents, teachers and schools play in a child’s education.
In an interview, Obama talked about an incident when he was a boy who lived with his single working mother in Indonesia. His mother could not afford to send him to a fancy international school and he went to a local Indonesian school where the standard of English was very low. To supplement this, Obama’s mother had him join an English correspondence course and would wake him up at 4:30, early in the morning, to spend time with him studying that. She had no option since she had to go to work and he had to go to his school. When he would grumble, she used to tell him in her no-nonsense style - “This is no picnic for me either, buster”. She probably had no idea that this experience would have so much impact on her son and how powerful her son would be one day.
So, what are some things we can glean from this incident? Parents play an important role in their children’s education. The parent’s attitudes and efforts definitely shape children. Obama’s mother took initiative and added to her child’s education with the course. And took extra efforts and sacrifice in making this special studying happen. They must have shared a strong and warm relationship with her son that she could persuade a young boy to wake up at an unearthly hour for extra work. This is where relationships matter for children - special relationships with parents, with teachers and the school - all working together for children - their education and development.
Check out more context about this incident from the New York Times website
Of course creativity, questioning and conceptual thinking are also very important in education along with diligence and discipline. Concepts taught systematically, thoroughly and in a creative, fun and engaging manner, can really help a child understand and retain concepts effortlessly. But that is not enough by itself and this is where practice or Einstein’s “perspiration” or Gladwell’s “10,000 hours for success”, or just plain old hard work come in. Drill in a subject does not mean rote learning and cramming facts and figures without understanding, merely for regurgitating in an all-important exam. Drill means practice and repetition so that the concepts really get “drilled” on ingrained in a person’s mind so that it also helps in understanding and furthering concepts in their minds.
So, that is why both “inspiration” and “perspiration” together are important in education. Traditionally, the Indian education system has been biased towards more of drill and rigour and that too more of the rote learning. But that is changing now. Many schools, teachers and parents in India are aspiring for a balanced combination of concepts, creativity, discipline, rigour and drill in education.
Also, we as parents need to stay tuned in our children’s education and help them. But this does not mean that we crack the whip and make them burn midnight oil blindly. We need to be sensitive to our children and their needs. The idea is not to impose our will and ambitions on to them, but to be there for them and help them unearth and actualize their potential. This would mean working with the teachers and the school as well in our children’s education.
Our 21st century children need a 21st century education. So, let us stay tuned to our children, be involved in their education and let us team up with schools and teachers. Way to go parents. We can do it!
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