By MALINI SESHADRI (The Hindu)
Well, I’m very fond of daddy but he hasn’t time to play/And I’m very fond of mummy but she sometimes goes away”…run the opening lines of a rhyme by A.A. Milne in a series of books about growing up that appear to be light-hearted but are in fact extremely philosophical and serious. Written during a time when relationships between the generations was on a more predictable keel they carry a few ominous notes.
When it’s time to reassess the actions of adults, the child is the witness, and his testimony is the way he grows and the person he ultimately becomes. Why are so many children growing up with anger in their hearts, with barely —suppressed violence waiting for any excuse to break through? Is it possible that the origin of the dark journey of violence which more and more youngsters are embarking upon everywhere lies in the disappointment of the young who seek love and understanding but never receive enough of it but are instead pushed into a learning system that makes no sense to them except that it somehow pleases the adults in charge? And this at a time when they are powerless to decide how their day should unfold, let alone their lives!
What are we growing on our “success farms”?
Blame game Whenever something disturbing surfaces from our result-obsessed society, we eagerly look around for someone to blame. Children in their final years in school end up working two or even three shifts with school exams to get through and college to get into. Getting through the days like automatons, trying out stimulants to stay awake or even just to feel alive. Having no port to steer towards, either in the environment they inhabit or in the value system that inhabits them. Who’s to blame? Parents? Teachers? When all the finger-pointing is done and over with, where are we headed?
If we don’t stop and rethink now, we may push our children to self-destruct. Children with no time to play, to dream, to enter imaginary landscapes, to read and swap stories, to discover and grow in friendships and personal understanding …children who do not value either patience or sympathy—what kind of adults will they become?
In today’s blame-oriented, success-focused society, there is a great need for true leadership in schools, rooted in warmth of spirit and a commitment to promoting peace education through the curriculum.We cannot reverse the clock and go back to less competitive times nor can we stop the mega trends of the world, but there is one kind of person in the education industry whom we look to and from whom our children and our childrens’ children may expect some measure of emotional protection and peace during their years in school.That person is the head of a school, the principal. Her role is increasingly draining — legal expert, employment specialist, administrator, academic in charge, customer relations expert, psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor and in-loco parentis. She is the only person who can take a stand on the fact that a determined emphasis on pedagogy is unlikely to succeed without strong and sensitive relationships, and quality emotional networks. An emotional relief-cushion can be created and provided best by the school principal who lays out the template for the staff to work out a co-operative programme of parent-child-teacher synergy of inputs to provide the quality of emotional support that is essential in an increasingly dysfunctional world.