‘Our society has been hypnotized into believing that a student who is successful in school will be successful in life, and although this may occasionally be true, the opposite is not necessarily false.’ —Alec Sahakian
I have struggled as a parent, a teacher and an educator for a very long time.
My issue as a parent was that my son did not perform well academically. In a country with limited options for those adults without demonstrated excellence in secondary education, where would my son stand in his tertiary exam? This was my big challenge.
In India, cut-off marks in many tertiary institutes are 95 per cent and above. I knew that if my son, notwithstanding his lack of interest in his academic pursuits, could still develop the habits of success, then he stood a chance to not just survive but also thrive in the real world that is unforgivingly competitive. Today, I can be at peace that at the age of twenty-five, Drish is flourishing in his business pursuits, and demonstrating responsible adult behaviour. My confidence in my son, his ability to succeed in his pursuit(s) of choice and embrace responsible adult behavior assisted me in managing his transition from school to work, and my transition from a concerned parent to a very proud one. Had I been a parent with preconceived notions that my son ‘should’ one day be a doctor, engineer, or an IIT graduate, I would probably have been in a mental institution by now!
As a teacher, my issue is being asked to teach vast amounts of content that I know can be accessed by my students at any time, any place, today and in the future. Often, what I should teach and what we are compelled to teach by the committees and boards that set standards are not aligned, and may even be at odds with one another. I know that most of the skills and habits of inquiry and advocacy, of robust intellectual curiosity and the importance of instilling emotional security and well-being that leads to a successful life, do not get tested in standardized exams, and therefore do not form a part of most conventional learning systems.
My second challenge is that not all children are born to excel in their academic endeavours. My goal is and has always been for all my students to find their own success in the world they inhabit. It is for this goal that I founded Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High.
In the early sixteenth century, the Italian philosopher Machiavelli observed: ‘There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.’
In 1993, I pioneered a whole new concept in learning as I knew that the conventional rote system of learning would not equip children with the skills and abilities to have inquiring minds, to find their own success in an ever-changing world—one that is filled with an abundance of information, myriad new ways to access that information as well as the social revolution born of digital technologies.
We faced great resistance and doubts at the time from peers and senior decision and policymakers in the field of education. We started with very few students, as most parents did not understand this new style of teaching and learning. Twenty years later, we have been voted ‘The Most Trusted Education Brand’ by the Brand Trust Report 2014, and competing for this award were institutions such as IIM, IIT, NIT, Oxford and Yale University.
In 2014, I once again reinvented our concept of learning and teaching and ushered in a ‘new-age curriculum’. It is a curriculum that would equip our children to face the many challenges and changes in our society. This year, we reinvented our learning vision.
This new curriculum will provide children at Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High the tools to compete, succeed and thrive in the world of creativity and imagination. This is known as the Conceptual Age or Creative Age, or Age of Imagination. We played a significant role in breaking the status quo of conventional schooling in 1993 and have this year reinvented our learning vision where the focus is on creativity, critical thinking (including being aware, mindful and responsible consumers), collaboration, problem-solving, connecting the dots, imagination and conceptual reasoning.
The challenges of every educator are numerous. We are told to have students ready for standardized board exams that don’t necessarily test what is going to be required for succeeding and thriving in the real world. So how can parents and educators supplement and enrich the child’s school experience so that they do thrive in their lives and are responsible members of society?
It may meet survival needs but I want all children to flourish as adults. So how do I supplement the schooling experience so that students can flourish as adults? In this scenario, I am told to ready them more with the breadth of knowledge rather than the depth of it. This will not serve them well. In this book, I examine the challenges and meaning of success for our children. I examine what you can do as parents to compensate what your child’s school may not be providing to ensure their success. If your definition of success is the same as mine—ensuring that your child reaches his full potential across his cognitive, emotional, spiritual and physical domains, and lives a life of fulfilment—then it may be worth your while spending some time exploring the concepts in this book.
I also explore how to minimize the pain and trauma the ‘Drama Teen’ phase can cause both the teens and their parents. My contention is that if your children, during their young years, pre-teen years and teen years are kept highly engaged, then we will have fewer teens and parents tearing their hair out!
In Drama Teen, Lina Ashar explores concepts from both sides of the fence. Helicopter parenting, parent–teen conflicts and ways to resolve them and the habits that lead to a successful life are among the topics discussed here.
Drama Teen is available at Amazon.in and across all leading bookstores near you.