childrens day: Paving the road for pursuing uncharted paths


 Paving  the road for pursuing uncharted paths

If you ask a young child whether she likes to hear good songs, see pictures or paintings or play sports, depending upon individual interest, you will find many who will say yes.  But when you ask them, as to whether they would like to become a singer, an artist or a sportsperson, most might say no.  The parental pressure and the society in which our children grow would not let children be, ‘what they want to be’.

How do we increase the diversity of potential career paths for our children?  If school teachers can invite designers, artists, painters, sculptors, archeologists, historians, geologists, etc., to share their learning journeys, children might know that there is a life beyond doctor, engineer, or a civil servant.  In two week’s time, we will have creative children from all over the country coming to IIMA campus to get IGNITE ’09 awards at the hands of Hon’ble former President, Dr.Kalam on 30th November afternoon.   I will not be surprised if many of them choose to pursue conventional career paths without using their innovative abilities to invent new solutions to contemporary problems.  Children’s day has just passed, did we take a minute off to reflect, “ which was the creative freedom i was denied, which I will let my child have? Will I stop being over protective? Will I let children play in dust, climb trees, and bruise themselves without getting worked up too much?

How do we change the mindset?  In 1970s there were many books written to stress the ability of young minds to criticize the teacher, pedagogy and the philosophy underlying the same.  Colin Wilson’s  “The Outsider” was one such book.  RD Laing’s books such as ‘Conversation’ , ‘Knots’, ‘Self and Others’ were other books which triggered debate on learning counter-intutively from everyday life.  The hypocrisy of adult behaviour, we have for long thought,  was beyond the comprehension of children.  How untrue?   Dag Hammarskjold, former Secretary General of United Nations kept a journal, which was published after his death in sixties, entitled ‘The Markings’.  He showed how when he met many great leaders of the world, he found many of them had not learnt to cope with the child in them.  If it was for creative end, nothing would have been lost.  But, he noticed that many powerful leaders had actually very petty egos and instincts.  Perhaps, the decision not to let the child in oneself grow is a good one.  Because only then can a person grow.   If the child in oneself grows big, we become small.  Let me conclude by a short passage in a book entitled, ‘The Human Situation’ by W.M.Dixon ( 1937) which I read in 1975 in cuddaph.   The author describes an intriguing situation.   Angels come down from the sky and tell a little girl playing in a garden, ‘O little girl, will you come to the heaven, The God likes you so much, he wants to play with you.’  The little girl was not amused.  She thought for a while and asked, ‘I will surely come, if I have devil to play with’.

It is this playfulness which paves the road for pursuing uncharted paths.  Shall we let our children pursue their playful fancies and let this world become more diverse, more tolerant of each other’s craziness and more inclusive at the same time.

Anil K Gupta