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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

How we effectively kill curiosity

When a child is born, he/she has only one attribute: curiosity. He is curious about the various sounds, different objects and the people around him. He wants to know all about them. That’s when he starts his education. He tries to focus on every little thing that catches his attention. There are so many new things to learn, and the little one has no sense of priority. He tries to take in every new thing and gets easily distracted. 

As he grows, he starts receiving guidance from others and his education progresses. Then, finally starts his formal education. Now, all his queries would be answered. He should be exuberant, right? It seldom works that way. 

There are two classes (aren’t there always?) of kids: the kids who can’t afford education, and the ones who are victims of education.

No education means closing the gates of curiosity

Let’s start with the first category. These are the kids who see education as a distant, near impossible dream. They marvel at the books, and bags of other kids longing to decode the letters, they can never decipher. They wish some magic would open a portal for them and teleport them to school where other kids gather.

Formal education teaches the child to read and write and opens the world of information to clear his doubts. Keeping a child away from this means shutting the door to his progress.

The reasons education is denied to these kids

  • Most of these kids come from a family who can’t afford to feed their children. A quarter of these kids fall victim to malnutrition and starvation. Education isn’t a priority in the family, food is.
    The mid-day meal programme started by the govt. was a smart attempt to entice the kids to school. It was sad that schools and govt. didn’t bother to maintain the quality of the served food leading the parents think that their child was better off without that meal.
  • Some of these kids earn for themselves and their family. Some don’t even have families and are forced into child labour. They are busy slogging instead of learning and playing.
  • The parents aren’t aware of the importance of education, in remote villages. They feel, reading a few books wouldn’t make a difference in their kid’s life. Why not teach children something worthy instead? Part of this belief is due to many educated snobs who boast about their theoretical knowledge instead of showing the practical use of education to these people.
  • Then, the most important and neglected reason, unnecessary legal formalities. Every school, be it a private or govt., requires a child’s birth certificate. You’d think what’s the big deal? Even today, there are many people who give birth to a child at home. These are the people who can’t afford to pay for a fake birth certificate.
    Frankly, I don’t get it. The govt. wants the kids to enroll, don’t they? What difference would it make if a child registered at school as four years old is actually five years old? Besides, it isn’t very hard to get a fake birth certificate. I know a lot of people who have a different date in records which is not their real birth date. And this people were educated in a sophisticated private school. I still remember my assistant’s tears when she realized, her son has to wait one more year before enrolling in a school because she couldn’t afford a fake birth certificate that year.
    I was so happy when right to education was made a fundamental right, but the govt. didn’t stop there. They added a fundamental duty, and passed on the responsibility. Why can’t we get rid of some legal formalities which obstruct a child’s right to education?

These kids have no way of satisfying their growing curiosity. Their elders who themselves are at times unaware of the answers, give random answers like this is how it should be. In case of child labourers, the scenario is worse. “None of your business’ is the answer to their curiosity. They soon learn that curiosity isn’t a healthy habit. "It is a great injustice on a child to deny him the chance to satisfy his curiosity." Tweet this.

Formal education and death of curiosity

The second category of kids are the ones who wish to free themselves from the clutches of formal education. The books they carry are their burden, they don’t understand why they are forced to listen to the drivel they aren’t interested, and dream to escape the clutches of education, until the day comes when they start believing that this unwanted education is the only path to a successful life.

Problems with formal education system:

  • The first problem with our education system is that it answers the child’s questions before he can ask them or even think about them. It seems like a good thing, but it isn’t. How would you like it if someone keeps on answering your questions without letting you ask or even speak? We all are irritated by someone blabbering all the time. Secondly, it suppresses the urge to ask questions. Same thing happens with the kid. He is annoyed and it indirectly suppresses his curiosity.
  • The system also directly suppresses a child's curiosity. Most the their questions receive one of these standard answers: “It isn’t important...” and “It’s too complicated for you to understand.” How do you expect a child to learn if everything he wants to know is unimportant or complicated? Poor kids soon learn to keep their doubts to themselves.
    It isn’t always the teacher’s fault. The teachers are too busy with completing the syllabus, assignments and correcting papers.
  • Education has no longer remained a system of learning, instead it is a sophisticated shop which sells degrees to their loyal customers. As a result, we have people who are theoretically brilliant, but practically have no use of their knowledge.
    Does this mean that the subjects taught in schools are useless? The truth is, they aren’t useless. Let me explain why we need to learn the basics of all the subjects. History makes it possible for us to know the truth instead of falling for every lie in politics, both national and international. Geography helps grow your cultural quotient and teaches us the basic morphology of our planet which is important to preserve this planet and environment. Science teaches you routine stuff like why you can't keep a completely filled glass water bottle in a freezer. Maths helps you calculate your interest rates on loans and investments, and compare them. All these subjects are necessary so as an adult you don’t fall for publicity stunts but use this knowledge and decided the best alternative.
    The fault that no one bothers to take the subjects seriously lies with the system. We are never explained why we need to learn anything but are forced to learn. If a student knows why is he learning the anomalous expansion of water, he might pay more attention.
  • Our education system does not take into account the different learning curves. Every child is different and has his own unique cognitive ability. The film 'Taare zameen par' tried to create awareness about dyslexia, but what about the kids who don’t have any learning disability.
    A child who looks at the words, and can’t remember them may learn in a single attempt during practical demonstration. Some kids learn better with a book, some with practise, others with music, and yet others with pictures. Trying to teach them with a same method and then, judging withe the same scale is injustice. It is the duty of every parent to find the best learning method for their kid as is the responsibility of the education system to provide the child with that learning method. After all, a parent is the child's first teacher.
    Remember, even if the tortoise won the race, it’s just a medal. The tortoise wouldn’t be useful if you have a job where running speed is required. So, why pit the hare against the tortoise? Why not accept the fact the both are different and may be equally good at their own job?
  • Curiosity may the attribute, the child is born with, but the child's purpose of learning things is to fit in with his surroundings. A child wants to relate to the environment, belong to the people around him(his family and friends), and be accepted in his society. He tries to change himself to adjust with school, and sometimes, loses his innate zest in the process. The child should not have to change for the sake of education, but the education system should adapt to accommodate him.

A child needs education to learn new things and grow in life, but that isn’t the ultimate purpose of education. The purpose of education is to make the child happy and satisfy his urge to learn. If the education system cannot make learning a happy process, it sucks. This should be the criteria to judge a system. Forced education leads to stagnation of ideas instead of generation of ideas.

A child is born with a right to education. We should see to it that a child isn’t denied his natural right just because he can’t afford it, or because we aren’t good at imparting it to him. Whether a child is born rich or poor, he needs to preserve his inquisitive nature and learn to think for himself if he has to become a better human being when he grows.

What do you think about children’s education? Do you have any method which would make learning a happy process? Do share your views.

This post is a part of the campaign: Shankhnaad for happy children. To know more about it, read other posts, or contribute posts to the campaign, check ‘Happy children equals a happy world’.


  1. A complex problem, Kiran. Everybody wants to give the best to the children, the govt, the parents, and the school. But nobody knows how. Everybody is trying to shift the responsibility to the other. The govt puts it on the teachers, the teachers put it on the parents and the students, and the school is just a capitalist crony these days.

    1. It is indeed a complex problem. Everybody wants the best, only if they joined hands instead of passing responsibilities. Where there's a will there's a way, too. If everyone tries their best, we might find the way. It could happen, maybe in the near future.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Replies
    1. I agree with him, too. Thanks for stopping by, Mridula.

  3. Nice one Kiran. The independence of thought is quite an issue, it is very sad to see how cultural tuning effects an independent thought. Maybe the answer lies in encouraging children to ask as many questions as possible without snubbing them. It sure is a complex issue, but maybe..l

    1. Thanks Vinay. Yes, encouraging kids to ask questions and answering them would help. Every problem has a solution, even a complex one.

  4. No education means closing the gates of curiosity , Everybody wants to give the best to the children, the govt, the parents, and the school. But nobody knows how. Everybody is trying to shift the responsibility to the other. This not happen only in some specific areas but it actually being our tendency, our nature .

    1. I agree, passing responsibility has become our second nature in all fields. We need to improve a lot. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Agree with you Kiran..Thanks for the post..


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