Saturday, 25 May 2019

Connecting National Leadership with Children


While I write this column I am not sure which party would win the General Elections 2019 in India and lead the government. But the picture will be clear by the time this article is published on Sunday. Whosoever wins, what difference does it make to most of us: parents with children? Although we are all citizens of the country and contribute through our daily activities to the growth of the country, do the political activities really concern us or involve us? We might pay attention to all that’s happening in the country, but at the end of the day, we go back to our worries about “Roti, Kapada aur Makaan” as well as the education and well-being of our children.

The reference to any National Leaders like the Prime Ministers, Presidents or the Father of the nation starts for an Indian child with maybe 14 November or the Children’s Day when we dress them up as “Chacha Nehru” for the Fancy Dress Competition and tell them about the first Prime Minister of India: Pt Jawaharlal Nehru. After this the only reference to something as remote as National Leaders may only happen during the celebrations of National Festivals such as Republic Day or Independence Day. Children may witness the Parade or Speech ceremonies on TV or virtually and may hear a passing reference made to the PM/President being saluted or felicitating the brave soldiers.

So how do you connect them with the national leaders? Why think of connecting national leadership with children or vice-versa? In fact, do they need to be connected to the national leaders at such an early age? As discussed earlier also, many would say there is no need to introduce children so early to the bloodbath of democracy. But can they actually escape from the reality or from whatever is happening so close to their homes? Malala could not; neither could all the children who witnessed mass shootings or bomb blasts in their school premises!

If one wants to preserve the innocence of childhood and let peace prevail in the world, it is highly advisable to introduce children to the various styles of Leadership in any country. Some countries may flourish under the regime of Dictators, some others under Monarchs or even Democrats like us. Countrymen may accept these forms of leadership without any regrets or rebel. Children need to understand that leadership is a complex trait: it keeps evolving from different situations and also changes in similar situations with different times and places. Probably this is also one reason that many parents do not want to connect children with national leadership.

But before we move ahead to look at what National Leadership can do to develop children; let us first take a look at what is leadership and the reasons for connecting it with children: 

1. Leadership is all about identity. Maybe the leadership capabilities can be professionally developed too. But still it has to start from within.
2.     Leadership is about influencing people.
3.     Leadership is about responsibility.
4.     Leadership is about qualities and values.
5.     Leadership is about purpose.

Now aren’t these the qualities that we as parents work upon while parenting? So now that we know the similarities between children and leaders we can go on to cultivate leadership in them. The process of cultivating leadership in children is a process of inquiry, discovery and reflections. Any and every child who is made to believe that s/he can make a difference in the lives of others in any manner can be a potential candidate to become a leader.

But we need to be careful about exposing children to many examples so that tomorrow they decide which one of them were the right examples. Parents expect children to blindly follow in their footsteps. But if we want to create free and fair leadership styles in them we need not to force our political leanings on them. Some qualities that we need to inculcate in them to connect them to national leadership would be:

    1.     Ability to learn
    2.     Ability to communicate and reach out to others
    3.     Readiness to Volunteering for works other than personal
    4.     Decision-Making
    5.     Compassion for others

This was all about how parents can work towards connecting children to national leadership. We also need to think about how does leadership connect itself to the children? Talking to them on issues related to their world such as: school life, how to perform in exams, experiments and projects related to their problems and solutions; can only mark the beginning. What can further keep them going is the endeavour to let them peep into each other’s life and live it wholeheartedly.

While the nation waits a new era in Indian Democracy, let’s hope the new government also opens a new chapter in the lives of Indian children.






Saturday, 18 May 2019

Accepting Failures as Stepping Stones


Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.” Carl Jung

Learning from mistakes and failures isn’t easy for adults. Imagine how traumatic it would be for our young ones. In today’s world where even a pet’s new collar doesn’t go unnoticed and commented on; it is difficult to discuss somebody’s failure without damaging his/her self-esteem. All children need encouragement to learn and succeed, especially after they have seen a failure in exams. Positive words of encouragement from parents, teachers, and friends during difficult academic challenges are essential for children’s growth and development.
Exams for academic sessions have just got over and new academic sessions have started. Parents might be anxious about their children’s performances in the present year compared to previous years. Parents keep reminding children about their past mistakes time and again in life instead of accepting them and moving on. Many times, insensitive reactions from the parents forces children to take harsh steps such as turning to bad company, drugs, malpractices or the worst ending their life. 
Teachers and friends may not always have the time or inclination to motivate children to overcome their failures. In such situations, parents play an important role in encouraging them to continue their life with earnest interest even if they fail in their attempts. Failure in exams should not be the criteria to judge your children as a Loser in life.
Take some time to think about how you talk to children after their failures. Here are some tips on how to help your children to learn from their failures.
How to Help Children to Learn from Failures
1.     Perfection is not the aim. Feel free to accept the fact that you don’t expect them to be perfect. This faith will let them look back at their mistakes and will not repeat them.
2.     Unconditional Love. Your children are your most important treasure. Do not let their one failure affect your relationship with them. Let them know your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes or lapses in judgment.
3.     Help to find a Solution. Do not live the life of your children for them. Let them focus on the solution. Don’t jump to rescue them from their mistakes.
4.     Tell your Stories. Children learn from your experiences. Do not shy away from giving examples of your own childhood mistakes, the consequences, and how you learned from them.
5.  No Blame Game.  First step towards progress is to accept your mistakes. Encourage children to take responsibility for their mistakes instead of blaming others.
6.     Let bygones be bygones. Reminding past mistakes every time children falter will not help in the long run. Avoid pointing out their past mistakes. Instead, focus on the one at hand.
7.     Appreciation matters. The most difficult step is to accept your own mistakes. If your children have taken that step, praise them for their ability to admit mistakes. Once they have taken this step, half of the battle is won.
8.  Encourage Efforts. Children may not succeed in their very first attempt. Still, what will keep them going will be the feeling that you are with them. So, praise them for their efforts and courage to overcome setbacks.
9.     Empathy. Whenever one makes a mistake, knowingly or unknowingly, someone is hurt. Make them realise the pain others feel when someone hurts them.   Train them on how to apologize when their mistakes have hurt others.
10.  Hope for the best. Failures are the stepping stones to success, in true sense. Help kids look at the good side of getting things wrong. This way at least they may not repeat the same mistakes in their life. Also, they will not be afraid of making new mistakes in their life. 
Whether it involves homework, developing friendships, or playing a sport, learning is enriched through error.  Learning from mistakes is part of how we challenge ourselves to learn to do things differently. It motivates us to try new, innovative approaches to problem-solving. Throughout a lifetime, learning from mistakes helps develop wisdom and good judgment. Finally, one can say:

Failure doesn’t mean – “You are a failure,
It means – You have not succeeded.
Failure doesn’t mean – “You accomplished nothing,”
It means – You have learned something
.
Failure doesn’t mean – “You have been a fool,”
It means – You had a lot of faith
.
Failure doesn’t mean – “You don’t have it,
It means – You were willing to try
.
Failure doesn’t mean – “You are inferior,
It means – You are not perfect
.
Failure doesn’t mean – “You’ve wasted your life,”
It means – You have a reason to start afresh
.
Failure doesn’t mean – “You should give up,
It means – “You must try harder.
Failure doesn’t mean – “You’ll never make it,”
It means – It will take a little longer
.
Failure doesn’t mean – “God has abandoned you,”
It means – God has a better way for you
.


Tuesday, 14 May 2019

STUDENT OF THE YEAR 2

DIGNITY AT STAKE

I don't know where to start after watching a slow and steady narrative of so-called young and crazy Student of the Year 2. I wonder about the brain drain being really true about Indian Film makers when others succeed to make impressions on our minds with mundane topics such as the Kesari and Tashkent Files! What's wrong with the blue-eyed boy of Dharma Productions! Has he lost his Midas Touch? One after the other big budget films with big popular star-casts fail to evoke any pleasure in the audience. Why is it that once again Dharma Productions fails to appeal through its latest Bollywood creation:Student of the Year 2?

Let's start at the very beginning: Although he is my personal favourite for doing comedy and action in his Baghi sequels; who can conceive Tiger Shroff to still look like a Student of the year? Similar is the story about the other students of the colleges in Dehradoon and Masoorie, where the story is set. The whole movie revolves around the protagonist Rohan played by Tiger Shroff and his dream to be together with his girlfriend Mridula aka Miya. The only thing that divides them apart is their colleges namely Pishorilal and St.Teresa.

1. Stereotype Scenes: What else would you
expect when a middle-class boy enters a "Hi-Fi"
convent? Similar to the objections raised by people criticising RTE admissions in private schools voiced we find in the Student of the year 2; the staff and students of St.Teresa holding against the protagonist who happens to be from a middle- class family.  It starts with the kind of shoes Rohan wears to the kind of boys he calls friends: the boy is made fun of for everything that he does. And to add to his sordid tale are the brat-rich siblings Shreya and Manav whose father is the Trustee of the college. The siblings again are poles apart for which their father's behaviour is responsible as he calls the daughter "manhoos" for being the reason for her own mother's death! As a result the girl is reprimanded by the father with a tight slap in the Principal's office for a silly prank she plays on Rohan's bike.

2. Illogical Reality: The whole story of the movie Student of the Year 2 which revolves around the prestigious Dignity Cup competition held between all the local colleges of Dehradun sounds so unrealistic and illogical as even a normal city-level college fest gives equal weightage to all kinds of skill-sets starting from oratory skills, technical skills to other skills; whereas this competition seems to revolve around only two kinds of skills: Dance and sports. Similarly, the very name Dignity being used for the prestigious competition in which all undignified actions get glorified instead of even being noticed by the so-called administrators!In the earlier movie of the franchise, there was an element of academics in their competition,while in this one the aspect is completely dropped. Also, students getting beaten outside the college campus gets reported while the protagonist and later on his friends getting beaten in front of the Hall of Fame inside the college during the competition of Student of the Year 2 goes totally unnoticed by any of the staff.


3. Superficial Nationalism: As I articulated in my previous blog on Kalank, in this movie too there seems to be a very clear indication to invoke nationalism through making Kabbaddi as the final sport of importance for winning the Dignity Cup and the title of The Student Of the Year 2. Unfortunately,the director fails to depict the game of Kabbaddi impressively as its "Desi" terms and techniques are done away with while the players are shown to be more inclined towards gymnastics than the more popular Dubkis and Super Raids of Kabbaddi. The cheer leaders and the movements of the team players make it more like a Basketball League match than a Pro-Kabbaddi feast.


In the end,what comes to my mind is only the mediocrity of the concept, script and its execution when it comes to talking about Student of the Year 2. The songs and dances, (except one odd song such as the Remix: Yeh Jawani) as well as the costumes and cinematography  do not tell  us anything more about the characters and fail to enhance the whole experience. Similar is the tale of the acting skills of any of the artistes. Those who can do it well are not given the liberty to excel except for a few scenes. The movie Student of the Year 2 remains an appalling Desi Cocktail of characters picked out of Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander and the Archie comics. 

Saturday, 11 May 2019

GOOD MARKS = GOOD LIFE?


I am surprised how I could lose one mark! I am sure I did everything right.

I am happy I failed the entrance exam for MBBS.

It’s not 90% but my son’s 60% has made me the happiest mom in the world.  

Results of class X and XII Board Examination in India is as important “BREAKING NEWS” as is any news related to IPL or General Elections 2019.

On one hand we find students, school administration, parents and media going all gaga over the School Toppers; while on the same social media walls we find people condemning the growing importance and anxiety over the rat race of good grades and marks. Whom do we follow? Do we tell our children to relax and not fall prey to the need of being a HIGH ACHIEVER in academic curriculum in today’s world? Or do we encourage them to score higher than they have done before?

What is it that makes the good grades/marks so important in life that children make or break their careers through these exams?

Why attempt the exams?

The class X and XII Board Examinations are stepping stone to enter into professional courses: be it the medical or engineering or any other stream.

What makes the Exams so difficult?

The question papers are set by a core group of various Examination Boards such as CBSE, ICSE or state boards. Also, answer sheets are evaluated by another core group of teachers from all over the country. This makes the whole process a little difficult for the students appearing and the teachers teaching them to appear for these exams.

How are these exams important for anyone?

These exams are important for everyone starting from the students, parents, teachers as well as the school administrations. Students get to prove to themselves and the world that they deserve to succeed in life; parents get a satisfaction out of the fact that their children have succeeded and the schools get to earn respect and business out of their students’ success.  All in all, it pays for all of them to be successful Exam Warriors.

Then why do we see such extremely contradictory reactions from the same students, parents and the school administrations?

Stereotype Career Choices: The very first mistake that we let our children make is to get carried away into making stereotype career options. Parents as well as Children tend to choose subjects based on silly reasons such as what their friends want or whatever is currently in fashion without giving a thought to whether they can do it or want to really do it? For an example, not all the students who pursue pure sciences become scientists just as not all those who pursue medicine become neurosurgeons. One needs to think about one’s own capabilities, interests and what one could do for a lifetime. 

Unreal Expectations: Sometimes we as parents or teachers put pressure on children to perform much more than what is their capability or interest. We expect children to perform much more than what is their real capability and this is where they do not understand how to tell us about their incapability or varied interests.

Misplaced Actions: Based on unrealistic expectations, parents force children to opt for subjects and join coaching classes to master the art of scoring good marks or grades in the Board Examinations. We fail to make them realise the real purpose of these exams and want them to score good marks/grades at any cost. That’s how they keep spending most of their precious time in learning the “question-paper patterns” instead of actually learning the subjects.

What is the real Purpose of these Exams?

Like any exam the real purpose of X and XII Board Exams is to judge whether the learners have mastered the subject up to an appropriate level of understanding and whether s/he is capable of applying the acquired knowledge in real life-like situations. This can only happen when the learners are really able to understand the fundamental principles of any subjects. For gaining knowledge what one seriously requires is interest in that particular subject and the urge to learn and improve one’s knowledge. If there is no improvement in the knowledge-base of the learner then there is definitely no enhancement in learning even if s/he manages to score high grades/marks in exams.

This is where the Indian parents commit errors and equate the results with growth in life instead of the child’s journey of discovery of knowledge. The Board exams need to be taken as the beginning of the process of building interest and confidence in child about being able to do things on their own. First and foremost, if the child has chosen a career and the method to achieve on his/her own; the battle is won. After that the child will go ahead and get good marks without much of your support.

It is more important for the child and the parents to take these exams as the beginning of a self-exploratory journey and nothing more or less than that.



Sunday, 5 May 2019

"Letting GO"


Why to “Letting GO”?
Last week my daughter had to attend a regional meet at another distant school in the city. This was a moment of mixed emotions for us. On one hand, I was celebrating her independence; while on the other I worried about her success. As children prepare to advance in school for the first time, parents are confronted with the reality of the child growing up. The parent is suddenly faced with "Letting GO" of a parental attachment held from birth. This notion of "Letting GO" can create levels of anxiety most parents could not have prepared for. It is much easier said than done when the time comes to break the parent-child connection which begins the establishment of a child's independence. Whether it's the end of breastfeeding, the first day of kindergarten, it can be a most difficult tug-of-war for a parent.
How to begin “Letting GO”?
It is ideal to think about why you do not want to leave your child alone at any time; to start with. Sorting out those mixed feelings preventing you from letting go is the first step toward understanding and conquering one of the most painful parts of parenting. It requires looking within.
Reasons for not "Letting GO"
The emotional struggle could be due to your own dependency needs fulfilled by your child. There is a love bond that exists between the parents and their children. It supplies the parent's need for love, affection, and companionship. This bond affects parents’ ability to separate from the child, causing emotional conflicts and disruptions in their personal and professional lives. Examples of these disturbances experienced by parents include:

·         A frequent need to "reconnect" or check on the child's welfare at nursery or school
·         Being unable to socialize for long periods of time without children
·         Relationship conflicts arising from decreased intimacy and quality time spent                    between parents
·         Delayed weaning of children from breastfeeding, blabbering and sleeping in your bed       to their own bed
·         Conflicts about obligations to career choices/commitments to shift work, especially           where basic childcare or breastfeeding is interrupted.
Effects of "Letting GO"

The conflicts  discussed here are experienced by many parents, especially mothers. In these instances, primarily occurring during the child's early development, feelings of guilt, conflicts between loyalties, and the internal struggles to make sacrifices can overwhelm a parent. The truth is, for a parent, there is no other love that compares to the love a mother or father has for a child and the responsibility that comes with caring for and protecting that child. Thus, a parent is operating out of pure love, reciprocated by the child, which creates the intense, unexpected love bond that is hard to break. It's no wonder parents have a tough time letting go and allowing the child to become independent.

Tips to tackle the move to "Letting GO"
There is no exact way to tackle and move through stages of your child's development. Every child requires different parenting as every parent will do his best based on knowledge, experiences, and available resources. The following are basic tips to assist parents as they move through the difficult transition of "Letting GO", when that time comes. Starting early will help create a good foundation upon which you can build successes at each critical stage of your child's development.
·         Set boundaries for yourself; practice giving your child space to grow
·         Give your child a chance to master tasks alone and learn from mistakes
·         Trust that the values you've instilled will in turn form their decisions
·         Acknowledge that you've done your best as a parent and that the hands-on phase of        parenting does come to an end
·         As your child matures, rebuild a new relationship that is less about dependency and        more about mutual respect, admiration

The whole process of Letting GO your tiny tots is like
 letting them enter a deep, dark forest with birds and beasts 
 without you but in front of you

Something like the feelings echoed by a parent in this poem:

I make my plans for you from birth; 

Carefully carving out your worth

So wrapped up in who you'll be; 
I neglect your individuality

I want to protect you all your life; 
Keep you safe from danger and strife

Temptation and pressure attack you all day; 
How as a parent can I keep it away?

My goal in life is to see you succeed; 
What's the best way to plant that seed?

Will my guidance be enough? 
To guard and keep you from all that stuff? 

I'll give you the room to make a mistake; 
I'll trust you with each step you take

I'll give you the space to set your tone; 
Adjust my expectations as you create your own.

Quoted from Poem: "For My Child by Anon