Sir, I have no choice

By Prabhakar Timble
15 April 2011 15:12 IST

Despite passive teachers glued to the rule book and obsessed parents worried about the  future even prior to child’s birth, it is a wonder to see that children soar and attain great heights in science, sports, literature, theatre, music, arts  and even business at a young age. This is largely because the school and the home which should actually have become primary houses of learning are losing their significance. It also reinforces that every child has an in-born gift for natural and self learning. The school is necessary because it provides group life and thereby children can also learn from peers. Natural learning can have a multiplier effect on the child if the medium of instruction is not unnatural to the surrounding. The teacher is friendly and not hostile.

I am not only speaking of the language as a medium. I am more referring to the love, play, and the freedom to question at leisure.  Love is the conviction of a teacher and parent that every child will win in the future at his own pace. It is this medium at home and school which insures the gate pass of victory to the child in this competitive global environment. The contribution of language is akin to window dressing.  

This reminds me of Vidu Vinod Chopra, the man behind the films----Ekalavya, Parinda, Parinita, Mission Kashmir and 1942 A Love Story. Considering the self to be fortunate being not exposed to the Roman script till the age of twelve, he read and enjoyed the literature of the soil in the local language and acknowledged  that childhood experiences, freedom, reading and failures shape the height a child will achieve in the future. The more difficult, challenging, agonising and close to nature the experiences are, the greater is the height of achievement. Give your children those free experiences of fantasy to fly in the air and they will capture the future without fear and stress whichever part of the globe they land, he underlined.

I often feel that the future of the nation will be made by the school going children of those parents who have never been to school. These are the parents who provide freedom to children and allow them to experiment with failure. The look of panic and anxiety can be seen on the faces of parents who are school graduates. I also hold the same opinion with reference to rural v/s urban schools. The teacher in a rural school is a motivator, develops personal rapport and accepts the child irrespective of achievements. The environment is different in an urban setting. Commencing from the admission procedure inclusive of testing of the child and parents destroys confidence and exuberance of the child.  From the beginning the school creates the feeling that the child is unwanted.

However, there are parents who find greatness and value in this approach of the school.  The parents who force children to English medium primary schools may not gain what they expect to reap for their children. In most cases, it would be growth without roots, growth sans development, English literacy without language proficiency. In short, it is injecting uncomfortable English colloquial verbosity devoid of content, thought and ideas. What is required in corporate world and for higher education are analytical skills including communication. This is totally different from fluency in English language because communication is not what one speaks but what the other person receives. An excellent communicator does not ipso facto mean an expert in English language.

I am fed up with the same grandma and grandpa stories of vernacular medium and culture. I know that culture is strongly rooted in soil and thinly related to language. However, it is sublime when communicated through the native tongue.

Pundalik Naik’s novel “The Upheavel” published by Oxford communicates the same culture and lifestyle as the original work “Acchev” in Konkani. The same is the story of the works of Bakibab Borkar and Lambert Mascarenhas. Though in Marathi and English respectively, the chord and reflection is Goan culture. The words of Narendra Modi and Pravin Togadia will communicate the culture of communal hatred irrespective of the language used.

 I also know the weak relationship between English language and global empowerment. Global empowerment is language neutral and prejudiced in favour of imaginative thinking, creativity and innovation.

I also know that children would be disempowered and run the risk of being denied access to the rich, multiple and diverse wealth including opportunities of growth in this great country spread from Srinagar to Kanyakumari and Ahmedabad to Kolkata, if the child does not gain proficiency in native tongue. If we are speaking only from business point of view, we will deny the competitive edge to our children if the grounding in the native language is poor due to perceived fear of losing some bread crumbs in the global bushes.

We need schools were children can grow like a tree in an open field, not like a tree in the forest, schools to nurse the self-confidence and social skills of the child, schools were teachers do not bark with accusations against the child, schools which encourage independent working by the child at their pace, schools with plenty of extra-curricular games, schools were teachers have a heart for well-being of children, schools where there is a balance between physical and academic growth of the child. We need schools who teach the language of love and compassion, and where the tongue of sowing seeds of hatred and suspicion based on religion or caste is muted.  

Sir, this is the area where the force needs to be applied. This choice is a choice to be made by the teachers and the schools. No amount of government aid to schools can ensure this choice. 

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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