Let’s lose those learning myths

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

I was sitting in the children’s park, watching my child on the slide and swing. I was also watching three 5-6 yrs old girls pretending to play house-house. That’s when I overheard the conversation between these girls’ mothers:
“I want to put her in a painting class.”
“I am looking for someone who can teach good handwriting. Do you know of anybody?”
“No, I don’t, but yesterday I found out about a good dance class. The only problem is I am not sure which day I can set aside to take my daughter to the dance class?
“Yes, even I want my daughter to attend dance classes, instead of wasting her time like this (pointing at the girls playing). At least dance will make her more confident.”

“What about Play?” I wanted to interrupt. What about the confidence they are developing right now, absolutely free of cost?

It is surprising that more and more children are being forced to attend these ‘extra-curricular’ classes when according to child development researchers in the last 150 years, free play can make a bigger difference in the child’s ability to think, imagine, make decisions, learn, and to develop confidence.

It’s a myth that just because a child is “made to learn something”, the child will develop confidence. Unless the child has the freedom to explore, to think, to express, to make decisions and mistakes, it’s unlikely that he or she can gain confidence.

So let us extend the idea of free play into free learning. Let me make a bold assertion – if a school does not have the time for free learning then it is not in the business of learning – it is in the business of teaching.

The authors are part of a Bengaluru based child development and parent/teacher training center: www.amable.in.

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