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A little girl was in a drawing class and the teacher was having a hard time having her pay attention.

So, the teacher went to her and said – “what are you drawing?”

And the girl said – “I am drawing a picture of God”

The teacher said – “But nobody knows what God looks like”

And the girl said – “They would in a minute”

–          Sir Ken Robinson (TedTalk 2006)

Today was Anishka’s first day at school. Now that the day has passed, I am not sure if I should write about the forethought or the afterthought. Off course, the two differ a world apart.

Yesterday, around this time I was experiencing a panic attack. Visiting Walmart for the third time during the weekend, I still felt I didn’t have enough snacks for her even though looking at the pantry it seemed like we were good till winter. I was circling the kitchen and the living room round and round trying to think of the one thing I must have forgotten. Today, I had mixed emotions. The thoughts around 3 pm starting with the overwhelming feeling of her first successful day at school to wondering if she met any mean kids to feeling great about having time to spend with her after school (Thank you Sabbatical!!). And now that the day is rested, I am wondering how in the world I am going to manage waking up at 6 every damn morning for the rest of my life!!

As the night grows and I start to put my philosophical hat on, my deep buried beliefs start to pour out, some that don’t dare to surface in the sunlight because the world is too averse to face them. One of them being my disbelief in our education system. I am a big fan of Sir Ken Robinson and totally believe that there is no way our education system can prepare our kids for what lies ahead. They don’t teach innovation at school, they don’t even encourage it. Yes, there is some form of creativity encouraged in schools, at least in America and that is probably limited to fields of Arts. But Creativity and Innovation are two different things, isn’t it?

Our school system builds what is already there. A teacher teaches what he/she knows and they couldn’t know about the future, otherwise they wouldn’t be a teacher. It is  very unfortunate and tragic that majority of teachers today pick the profession either because it suits their schedule or their education level (No offense teachers). I can not comment if it is a flaw in the governmental policies or in the general perception of the industry, but we don’t have enough capable teachers in our schools. The salaries are low and so, the crème de la crème does not pick Teaching as their profession. If we were to do a survey of all teachers in America, I can bet the percentage of teachers that are here because teaching is their passion will be in single digits. Might be a very disappointing figure if we surveyed the rest of the world because in a lot of countries people become teachers because they would otherwise be unemployed.

With that kind of a system, how can you imagine your kids getting the right tools to face the future. I always wonder why don’t we hire the business leaders and Scientists for teaching jobs. That could be the only way to give some practical knowledge to kids, as per their interest. I mean, who has ever used Trigonometry in their real life except Einstein and Newton. And they didn’t even use what their teacher gave them. They found their own rules.

If we gave every child a chance, every child has the potential to create a new world. As Sir Ken Robinson says – “We are not teaching creativity in our children, we are teaching them out of it.” And that is pretty scary.

Think about it, if every kid followed what the teacher said, the highest bar of innovation we would have in this world will be of the most successful teacher in the world. Now, if you look at the innovators of the world, maybe 1% of them would have had teaching as their profession. The rest, were rebels. The independent thinkers.

So, as my daughter starts school today, I wish for her to be non-compliant  with the society, with the rules, with the lessons. I wish for her to take the lesson that raises her own bar and leave the rest. I wish for her to be her own teacher (No offense to any teachers).

If you are of the thought that our school system needs to change to better prepare our kids for future, you must watch this Ted Video of Sir Ken Robinson (and no, I am not advertising for him). And while I wish I could type the whole speech, I will leave you with my most favourite lines –

“Have you ever thought of Shakespeare being a student. I mean, he was in Somebody’s English class”

“How annoying would that be?” “Must try Harder”

Being sent to bed by his father. You know – “Go to bed. And put that pencil down. And stop speaking like that .It’s confusing everybody.”

With the school sessions starting this week and next week, watch your kid. Recognize them for what they are, not what you want them to be.

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