I have one question that why do you ask so many questions? This was the question asked by one of our students Pearl. I was a bit stunned. On one hand it was expressing her frustration of having to face so many questions from us, while on the other hand it felt good, that she has started using this very technique on the journey of exploration of new knowledge.
In all our sessions, the learning is co-created. We as facilitators and the students have a conversation on the topic and progressively, new knowledge is discovered by the students. We believe in this method. But students initially felt a bit confused as they are used to a different process – where the teacher is the giver of knowledge and they are the recipients. In our view, this is one of the big problems in the current education system where rote learning has become the rule and students try to memorise without understanding. This explains why in many situations, the teacher teaches, but students do not learn.
The etymology of the word education throws up some interesting insights.
The word ‘education’ has roots in E + DUCO, which means TO BRING OUT.
If education is the process of bringing out (knowledge) what exists, then why do we have the entire system focussing on shoving in the information to students, without helping them in the process of knowledge formation? So, how is this system supposed to work? The answer to this question can come from the brain mechanism on how the learning happens.
Any information received by the brain, is first tested against the existing knowledge and if a connection can be made, the new information gets hooked up to the older one. The more this process happens, it gives rise to a new pattern of connections and this is the process of LEARNING. If the brain cannot connect the new information to the existing knowledge, it is simply discarded as unwanted, unusable piece of data. So, how can we make use of this knowledge, on a day to day basis to facilitate the process of learning by our children?
Example of an interesting conversation in our house last week:
Our son Harsh and daughter Jiya were talking about fabrics. Jiya mentioned that Harsh’s sports day costume is of terrycot based on what she had heard her mother speak. Harsh is not aware of what terrycot is.
Harsh : Papa, what is terrycot?
Papa : It is a blended fabric. Do you know about synthetic fibres?
Harsh: Yes, it is a manmade fibre like nylon.
Papa: Good. Like nylon, there is a synthetic fibre called terrylene and when that is mixed with cotton, you get terrycot
Harsh : Oh, so it is like an alloy of metals.
Harsh can now place terrylene (new information) as a synthetic fibre similar to nylon (existing knowledge) and terrycot, a blended fabric (new information) is similar to a metal alloy (existing knowledge). So, it is very likely that the new information that he has received becomes part of his knowledge due to the connections he could make.
So, next time when children ask you difficult questions, don’t jump to give them immediate answer. Remember these 3 things to do:
- Ask them relevant questions so that they can answer it and then connect it
- Ask them what do they think about it
- Ask them to use some source of information – any expert, book / dictionary and then let them explain what have they understood
There are a number of ways in which we can keep our children on path of lifelong learning and keeping their curiosity alive. For that, we as parents need to keep patience and allow the children to explore. In the process, children will learn a very important skill – learn to learn.