“Why do we forget our childhood? With rare exceptions we have no memory of our first four or five or six years, and yet we have to only watch the development of our own children during this period to realize that these are the most exciting, the most formative years of our life. Schachtel’ s theory is that our infantile experiences, so free, so uninhabited, are suppressed because they are incompatible with the conventions of an adult society which we call ‘ civilised’ ….
( Herbert Read — 1893-1968)
Much has been written about education system and it’s reforms. In the present communally surcharged atmosphere, even children below five or six years are affected by communal trends in the society.
When a child is enrolled in a kindergarten school, he or she encounters society for the first time as many children do not have full inter – action with people outside their families specially in cities and towns. Thus, the nursery and kindergarten years are very crucial in the formative years.
Prayers and assemblies
The day starts with assembly and some sort of prayer. In religious schools, the prayer naturally is concentrated on religious gods. But in some private schools, the prayer centers around ‘God’ with any particular reference to religion or any caste. For instance, in our school we were told to recite :
‘ All things bright and beautiful
All things great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The good God made them all…’
(Cecil F. Alexander … Hymns for little children 1848)
But, still, the school authorities imposed to recite compulsorily ( even if a child had no inclination to recite ) on the pretext of ‘ discipline and punctuality in life. This is the starting point of loosing free thought and power of questioning the status quo.
Thus, a child is treated as a Savage to be tamed and domesticated with indoctrination of values. The thoughts are controlled by parents as well as teachers. As the child grows, he or she imbibes the values present in society without any logical critique. Thus, caste and religious identities start from first formative years of thought.
This ‘ communal – isation ‘ of education must be stopped so that child would not be habituated to the divisions in society and concepts of higher or lower status according to family in which he is born. Religious texts may be introduced as a part of curriculum and children must be encouraged to view the stories through different angles ( including questioning existence of God) and analysing socio- economic implications of scriptures and their relevance today.
Logic and reasoning
When we raised queries about our disability and wanted to know that if God were indeed present, why did we had disability, our teacher would chide us and admonish us not to question God. We were forced to accept that our disability was due to sins committed in past or that was gods will. Thus, our logical thinking was nipped in the bud and we were resigned to ‘ fate’ .
This attitude impedes progress of thought. The are concrete conditions behind any disability or any incident that should be explained. The Pre- primary kindergarten years are the starting years of learning, creativity and adaptation. Suppression of questions will not allow logical reasoning to blossom. This will impact the minds as one grows up.
For a healthy society, the growth of child is crucial. Child is father of man, said Aristotle and good rational thinking educational system produces good fathers and thereby healthy society. The present communally tensions, sharp divisions among people and hatred towards each other should be stopped and for that, a strong basic foundation must be laid. This is possible only when a child enters a healthy society full of scope and creative thinking without any fetters.
Vladmir Mayakovsky ( 1893-1930) was a famous Soviet poet who wrote children’s books. His simple and easy style attracts children to this day. His prophetic word explain the wide scope a child has in the world.
” Having turned the book inside out
Keep it well in heart:
All jobs are fine for you:
For your own taste !’
(Whom shall I become …poem)
He rightly explains the future of children when he says
‘Children, be like a lighthouse!
Light up the way for everyone
Who cannot swim the night ‘ ….
Sheshu Babu is a writer from anywhere and everywhere