Photo Courtesy: Deepa Sudhir
All for one:
Education for our children has come to occupy pole position in our lives. Being a teacher, tutor, mentor and a parent of two teenagers, I do know this much. After years of my interaction with students and my own 10th and 12th graders, I have found five factors that contribute to students’ better future. So here is my five-point formula for their splendid future.
1. Parents contribution
Many parents start with great enthusiasm, putting their children in a great private pre-school. But slowly they lose track of their progress when children move to public school.
All of a sudden they are sent to a high school, bombarded with AP classes and other activities to get into a good college. When you compare your child to a neighbor’s children, you despair why your son/daughter can’t do the same. If your neighbor’s kids are doing great, that means he/she is spending countless hours helping the child in the right way. If they say that their kids do it all by themselves, that is either a lie or they are great role models. There could even be that 10 per cent chance that they are smart students by nature. So when your kids are not meeting your expectations, just step back and think.
So how can parents help their children. From my experience, the right time to be with your children is from 5th to 8th grade because that is the prime time of their life. They need to be trained on their basic life skills to excel in the near future — high school. Secondly, they can easily train kids to take responsibility for their actions.We really need to adopt the ideas of Stanford Prof Carol Dweck’s “Growth vs Fixed Mindset” and Sugata Mitra’s ”SOLE.”There is a lot to write about these methods in the coming up blogs.
If you are able to mold them in a right way at young age as a self-organized growth mindset champion when they start high school, parents can sit back and enjoy the ride. Trust me, if you are wondering how your neighbor’s kid took 12 AP classes in high school and balanced tons of other activities, that is just because that kid is really self-organized and he/she has a growth mindset. And their parents played an important role in that. There may 10 percent exceptions but 90 percent excel because they have the right parents. Do the right things when it is needed, then sit back and relax. High school years is for the kids to train themselves to enter into the adult life. So instead of micromanaging, let them take responsibilities of their actions.
Another simple formula is of six Cs. They are: Character, Concentration, Comprehension, Critical Thinking, Concepts, Confidence and Champions. If children imbibe these then their future is going to be bright.
- You also need to ask yourself a few questions, like
- When you ask them to be good readers, are you a good reader?
- You ask them to respect you, but are you showing them respect?
- Are you at least showing respect at each other as a dad or mom?
- Are you showing them how to manage a difficult situation without cursing?
- Are you leading the right lifestyle that having highly paid job and high positions brings in happiness rather sleepless night of work and stress?
- Are you taking the responsibilities of your actions or putting the blame on your spouse or children?
2. Teachers can work wonders
I always wanted to ask teachers what they think is their real role while teaching an advanced level class. I know, you are highly qualified and have got special training to teach AP classes. I have been there too. I also took my single subject credential and special training to teach Calculus BC. According to the California Credentials, I am a highly qualified teacher. Having said that I still wonder whether many teachers know what their responsibilities are.
A good teacher can help students if he/she inspires the child using knowledge and passion towards a subject. A teacher should build a solid foundation for AP classes and not scare them away. Try not to waste their precious time by giving them that unproductive, useless, time-consuming project that drain them. This only makes students hate the subject forever.
Another thing to shun is the five-question format testing where only one mistake can pull down the grade. Teachers, please revisit your assignments and teaching style. Don’t blame it on the system, I know AP teachers have lots of freedom on how to design the curriculum and teaching structure. Teach them the right way before testing them with the hardest materials. Even the lower level teachers can do a lot by teaching the children the right material so that they can excel in the higher classes.
Great passionate teachers can create that spark in the children. I salute them.
3. Teenager can control the whole situation:
Study for success:
You have all the tools to be successful in life at your finger-tips. Yes, that phone in your hand with the internet. It is you who choose to use it for good or bad. And may be you don’t know what is right or wrong? You better listen to your parents. Even if they appear to be mean, old fashioned. Do you think most of the time they don’t get it. You ever wonder why? Here you go…
They are from the other part of the world, where kids used to do only study in their teenage years. Yes, they do have those teenage feelings, but they divided their life period to focused activities. They didn’t mix sex with education and actually they don’t even received sex education in 6th grade, but still you all are here. So for them, until the age of 22, life is all about studies, then get a job, then marriage and then children. Even with those teenage crushes and stuff like that they tried their best with the limited resources they had. So there is not much multitasking involved. And most of them did great, and the high privileged life you are having now is the proof that they are successful.
They were really underprivileged. They walked many kilometers to school, they got spanked by teachers, they did not have fancy phones or computers.
So start by spending your time wisely. Use all the resources available to you having a broad growth mindset. Yes, you can say you are following your passion. But if you really want to follow your passion, do it after you start earning. Your teenage years are to explore different horizons. Do not shut any door just because you are too lazy to walk through it. Explore different areas of academics in high school itself.
If you put your 100 percent effort in the right way, success is yours for taking. But if still things are not coming to you, it is not your fault. You need to train your mind that nothing is the end of the world. Keep trying. At the end prestigious colleges won’t define your success. It is your mindset, skill set, expertise in the field, passion and right partner which will be the defining factors. So do your 100 percent and enjoy the simple things in life.
4.Education system reform
Our education system can easily make students learn right character skills, like organization, time management, setting of priorities and stopping procrastinating. It can help them have better concentration, comprehension and critical thinking. There is a great need to change their fixed mindset to growth mindset. However, the recent common core movement has come as a spanner in the education system. In the name of critical thinking, we are fooling around with some horrible material. Trust me, if they are planning to continue this common core method, we can all face a big failure in generating future scientists and engineers.
Again, we really need to adopt the ideas of Stanford Prof Carol Dweck’s “Growth vs Fixed Mindset” and Sugata Mitra’s “SOLE”.
5. Society’s steps
We do not live in vast society but a small one which we create around ourselves. It is how we define successes within the community. If you really want to live in a successful society, don’t raise your eyebrow next time when someone says their child is going to attend community college/humanity major. Success is not defined by which college they attend or what major they are doing at college or even how many AP classes they attend in high school. For each individual, success is different. For me, success is that I am able to enjoy every moment of my life.And I am the most successful person in my mind.Through this mindset, I create happiness around me.
And for a successful society, we need to fill it with happy, loving, caring, healthy and stress-free people. So be one of that kind and enjoy every moment of life. Teenagers and parents should enjoy their life together because it is the best time to connect with each other. Children should become more responsible and parents take a break. Then together they can happily work for a bright future. Let’s build successful families and society this way.Let’s create happiness around us.A happy society is the most successful society.
(These are my personal views. There is no intention to hurt feelings of anyone.)