- by Janaki Krishnan
With more than three decades experience as a teacher, dealing with students ranging from ten to twenty years, I had developed a sense of pride in my teaching abilities. I thought I could teach or coach any student for an examination - all I needed was the prescribed text book, and a model question paper.
But lately, my attempts at teaching my ten year old granddaughter her CBSE curriculum at home have taught me some new truths.
I have come to realise this: teaching in an educational institution, and teaching at home have nothing in common! The theories in Child Psychology I learnt in B. Ed (I got a distinction) have been tried and found sorely lacking.
My successful teaching tricks - a serious tone, a stern face, and a cultivated reputation for strictness - have no place at home. The only things that really work with my granddaughter are saama - sweet words and negotiation, and daana - outright bribery! My chances of success are better if I approach the unwilling learner lovingly, make requests, promise rewards, and allow adjustments and suggestions in the study plan. It is also better for me to turn a blind eye to little time-wasting ploys - for example, lengthy visits to the toilet, forays to the fridge for sweets, or a chatty phone call to a friend.
But that's not all I've learned. Teaching my 10-year old granddaughter has also taught me that the old saying "One thing at a time and that done well" is not a universal truth. Kids these days do a lot more things than they used to: they juggle many activities and have a lot on their minds other than schoolwork. Today's children are smarter and more knowledgeable in many areas - it is the grandparents who are ignorant. Giving children space to grow and think in new ways may be the best gift a grandmother can give. To quote Kahlil Gibran:
Your children are not your children
They are sons and daughters of
life's longing for itself.
You may give them love,
but not your thoughts,
for their thoughts dwell
in the house of tomorrow
which you cannot visit.