A Tale of Two Annual Days

When children are given a platform along with a set of broad expectations, they can perform in ways that surprise and delight us, often dealing with what adults see as impediments and limitations with maturity and panache. We as teachers and parents need to know when to step back and allow them that space, placing just enough support within their reach so that they feel empowered yet not encumbered!

This was apparent at two annual day functions that I attended, in very different contexts, populated by very different sets of teachers, parents and children. The fi rst was the annual day function of the middle and high school of a large elite institution, alma mater to many successful public fi gures in the city and state. Apart from very brief introductions and occasional interruptions by teachers and administrators, the show was anchored by the senior students, who handled their scripts with confi dence, despite the faltering power lines and the threat of rain. The second was at a small “alternative” school where the total number of students did not exceed one of the large sections at the former institution. But here too, the children took centre (and right and left) stage, handling not only the anchoring but also stage and crew management.

Both Annual Days weren’t mere showpieces of rehearsed entertainment. Despite the difference in scale and style of performance in each case, one thing was clear – the children had claimed their space at the centre of the system, and they had done it with a discipline that we often assume has to be imposed. What emerged was this truth – that children have capacities that we need to recognize and nurture early in their lives.

Let the children make of Annual Days what they want – with minimal direction and no coercion!

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