Let the child be free

Every year on 15th August when our Prime Minister hoists the national flag at Red fort, we feel proud of being living in an independent country – a free country. And by virtue of being in India, we enjoy the freedom to do whatever we want, say whatever we feel like and live our lives the way we want to.

There are many countries in the world where the governance is so autocratic that at times you do not even have the freedom to step out of your own house. And you can simply forget about opening your mouth to express what you feel like. Imagine yourself living in such a country. What would you feel?

Big Boss is a very popular show on the Indian television where a set of contestants are locked up in a house for 90 days and are under the authority of one unseen voice. We don’t claim to be psychological experts but if you monitor the last five contestants in every season, you may see a pattern of restlessness and insanity creeping into them. They start reflecting a side of their personality, which they otherwise would never showcase. All this happens because they are cut off from the real world and are constantly living in a competitive environment and under the threat of being eliminated. The pressure is so intense that it cracks you up. Now, imagine yourself living in such an environment for more than three months. What would you feel?

One point is established – we all love our freedom and enjoy it completely.

Let us take you to an argument which is on a completely different tangent – the basic premises though remains the same, that of being free.

Imagine a young kid in a school uniform. Does that kid also enjoys the same freedom or is he/she being forced to become a part of the system, which confines him/her to a boundary, which for many of us does not even exist. The reality is that it does exist. Let’s understand how.

A child wakes up in the morning, gets ready and goes to school. Upon reaching the school, there is a set timetable, which every child in the school has to follow. Teachers visit the class one after another, get into a monologue, use the blackboard or in many cases instructional multi-media content and then expect every child to develop the conceptual understanding of the topic equally. CCE (continuous comprehensive evaluation) has brought some sense of interactivity in classrooms but its impact is still very limited to really keep the child excited. In such an education system, which exists across our country, a very basic premise of freedom gets lost completely. The child is not free at all. He/she is being forced to live, experience and be a part of this system, whether they like it or not. We may think that the child may not need the freedom but that is a big misconception.

Today’s generation is the smartphone generation, where they are being exposed to so much information in so many different forms that by binding them to the boundaries of our conventional education system, we are actually limiting their intellectual and psychological growth. To help them evolve into a smarter generation and to truly give them the 21st century skills required to succeed in this modern economy, it is imperative that we make the child free.

One of the ways in which this can be done is by giving the tools of education in the hands of the child. Imagine a child in the school with a tablet, which is loaded with interactive lab softwares, animated multimedia videos, engaging games and interesting worksheets. The child in this case has the option to choose what he/she wants to study, how to study and very importantly when to study. The child feels free and it is safe to assume that this freedom will foster personal growth beyond what we can imagine.

There is no conclusive research yet which proves that this model succeeds or will succeed in India but a number of developed countries which are ranked in top 10 across various education indexes have adopted personalized technology and play-way form of learning in a big way. The two frontrunners are Singapore and Finland. There are a few examples of some top schools even in India who have already adopted the model of tablet-based labs. It is indeed the future. We however having realized now, have an excellent opportunity to adopt this system and truly make the CHILD FREE.