After having sat up to watch the Oscars and celebrated A R Rahman’s recognition on a global platform, one is struck by the whole phenomenon of appreciation and validation. To receive, and even expect this for technical and creative excellence, as happens in awards like the Oscars, is one thing. Life goes on even without such awards, and it is largely a sense of internal motivation that pushes one to achievement in these arenas.
But what role does appreciation or its lack play in our day to day lives? How much does it have to do with what we become, as adults, as professionals, as participants in relationships, and, in the context of education, as learners? What difference does it make to the mind of a child if he or she is patted on the back instead of being berated, or even worse, ignored? What effect does a simple touch of warmth, a smile, a positive word, or even a meeting of the eyes, have on a child’s sense of self? Research over the years has only confi rmed that children who receive positive attention perform better, those that are ignored tend to wilt, while those who are castigated either turn rebellious or recalcitrant. It’s not only the intellectual inputs we provide, but also the psychological and emotional ones, that determine the amount a child is willing and able to learn.
The articles in this issue would all seem to stress this point: pay attention to the non-academic side of teaching. All of us need to be validated as individuals before we can even open our minds to the possibilities learning offers. Praise needs to be distributed – judiciously and generously, even if not evenly – across the classroom, while reproof needs to be measured and minimized. Your good mornings and hellos need to embrace all fifty students, not just those that shine brightly in your mind, and not just those in the front row! Every child needs to be included in the teacher’s gaze – there should be no dark corners in a classroom that can hide the shy, the retiring, or the afraid. Sometimes, that’s all the validation a child needs to begin to learn, and to continue to learn.