The education system in India has always seemed to lean towards rote learning, with memory rather than understanding being the name of the game. It´s great to know the answers for an exam but it is even better to understand why they are the answers. Since the new school year has started we have been working more closely with the children and are becoming aware of their needs and the extra work that is required to ensure they not only know but understand the principles behind the subjects that are being taught.
I think some of us have an inquisitive mind and are always asking why; others just seem to accept what they are told. I am not sure if it improves your overall happiness as living with blind faith can be easy and with ease I guess comes peace, but with striving to learn and question comes knowledge and independence. Over the last few months I have seen several cases where adults as well as children are just not given the opportunity to grow and end up in a loop where their ability or social standing stagnates and they see it as their place in life.
As we go through this year we hope to engage more and show the children that understanding why is much better than only knowing the correct answer. Hopefully, by understanding how and why will enable them to come to the correct answer, or perhaps they might think outside the box and come to a better one, who knows.
This blog started as we wanted to help one of the younger girls as even though she was getting great marks at school, still seemed to have considerable difficulty recognising letters on their own. She was great with her abc´s as long as they were in order, but understanding the alphabet outside of its natural order was very difficult. Unfortunately we don´t have expertise in this area so we made an appointment with the Sethu organisation in Porvorim who specialise in learning disabilities.
It was our first visit to Sethu so we were not sure what to expect, but as we entered it was nice to see toys for the children to play with and staff who are professional but warm and friendly. Joining Robert and the girl was her father. Generally we don´t see much of the children´s fathers as they are either at work, or drunk in a corner somewhere, but in this families case we are more used to interacting with her father, who is caring which definitely helps. The councillor was great and advised us to organise hearing and sight tests and then return to see a special educator to consider the best way to help the girl.
Thankfully the girl always has a happy demeanor and was engrossed in her artwork while we talked about the next step in her education.
We have another two sessions planned so hopefully we will find a suitable plan to enhance her ability to understand rather than memorise.
Thank you to Sethu, Ishita and the family for their help in organising this.