Students Should Never Remain Silent

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Hey! MAKE SOME NOISE - has been a call for some rebellion in the face of a boring and stereotyped routine. It is not about being on the dance floor or on the stage for a while and then making an exit for the next friendly call. The 'noise' here is the intervention that we all need to possess in our everyday routine. It actually makes us look alive. Let's see how!

The context of the blog is not to prescribe Steve Jobs' Here's to the crazy ones as your life motto or to tell you that you have been doing it all wrong. We wish to drive home an idea which is about children. Yes, you heard it right - Children or young students trapped in the vicious circle of education. They crash-land into the world of employment or even their adult life with utter confusion. The learning from the classrooms is quite strange to them. Ok, let me put it in straight words here. A child is born and we cherish the noise she makes. They laugh, toddle and those acts of childishness are welcomed by everyone. Then we send them to play-schools and they learn to sit and scribble. They form bonds and also learn to behave socially. They make their first connections who can be termed by us as friends. Even we love the way they get attached to other kids and are always curious to speak. Then comes the deadly attack on free learning, the nail in the box - KEEP QUIET! The rule that children should learn to keep quiet goes against the very essence of our own preamble to childhood. The teachers will tell them the way they should be quiet all the time unless asked to speak. The vicious circle starts from this very moment. We know it well that Students Should Never Remain Silent.

They are taught to speak on the stage, trained to communicate and then asked to compose messages - but all for the sake of evaluation and examination. Unfortunately, we may find this criticism as a rejection of something that has been there for centuries. It is not so, actually. What we need to see is the immediate need for refinement and correction in this doublespeak. This understanding can avoid the successful failure, at least can delay it further. The young age finds them taking an exit to the higher education world. This is a completely different and complex landscape now from what it used to be even yesterday. The ever-evolving world demands things that relate to expression, understanding, communication and creativity. A child to whom NOISE was a forbidden thing, fears to jump out of the league of stereotyping. So, he gets fitted in as a log and loses the chances to do what was possible. The sense of imagination - if not allowed to flourish at the first stage in school - is a tough thing to re-kindle at the later stages. Some of them still keep it alive and make the choice of making some noise by becoming the achievers we envy for their accomplishments, be it Einstein or Sonam Wangchuk or other legends we appreciate.

Think of the pre-requisites to get a good job or becoming the CEO or a celebrity in sports or films or in any public domain. These are:

  • Skills to Connect through communication
  • Creativity that makes one stand out with the way things are painted, designed or expressed
  • An immense amount of imagination brings the newest things to this world
  • A natural appetite to appreciate things and make a strong statement with 'good vibes'
  • Skills of collaboration, teamwork, leadership and problem solving
  • Strong sense of empathy, fellow feeling and good-heartedness

Above are the touchstones and tell yourself which one requires us to be silent in the classrooms- NONE of them. Again, the leader of the class is the teacher who must not be seen as a ringmaster or the one who brings fear of exams or even a worthless mention of them. sad to say- we know them by these characteristics now. The teacher or the educational leader and even the policymakers do fit in the agenda. However, the outcome is a generation of real perplexed minds. As a teacher, I have this guilt that I could not make a child speak on a particular day whereas, I saw that there were ideas, thoughts, emotions and imaginative instincts in him. The way we teach them or parent them, we have to ensure that they know they can SPEAK up anytime. We are in a classroom buddy, a real 21st-century classroom. The kids are not going to move to the neighbourhood or in one geographical landscape only. They will actually be known to the whole world and vice-versa. So, they must be facilitated with a sense of confidence and freedom. first in the classroom and then everywhere else. 

We are failing have actually failed as a society to make them trust the educational process. There are many who are doing their part by telling them 'They can speak their heart and have wings to imagination'. It empowers them to trust the canvas of education and learning. Yeah, it is not the operation theatre where a deadly silence has to be kept as it is about trouble- they are in a classroom of life and for life skills. as an educator, try this out sometimes - right at the Kindergarten or the grade 1 or the senior-most kids you have with you - Allow them to Speak and handle things in the way you know it is best. Trust your students - that the key to open yourself to success in this expedition. Do not forget that the world is not what it used to be yesterday. It is evolving constantly and one has to command a presence here. The trap of making them stay quiet  - cage and kill their creativity, make them believe in single-dimensional ideologies, teach them to think of examination as the only end to education - is suicidal for learning. It is a crime to offer Life Skills, Speaking Skills, psychological well-being lessons, teamwork training and other market-driven packages at a later stage. We could inculcate the same in a natural way.

Subir Shukla, an educationist- thinker and an activist wrote this on his Facebook wall:

The school was in Boko Haram territory. We left most of our guards and their arsenal outside. In grade 2 was a teacher trying to teach reading. She had learnt in training that getting children to speak was a very important part of learning reading and had been given some materials to support her. However, there was a problem.
‘I try so hard, but none of the children speak!’ she shared her frustration. She asked questions about the pictures she had – what do you see here? What are these children doing? (An interpreter translated for me) But apart from a few children, the rest in the class of 80 stayed silent.
I requested her to ask children to say what they had eaten that morning. This time there was a better response. Next, we pointed to the letter A that she had been trying to teach and asked if children had eaten anything with the letter A in its name. The response was overwhelming!
Why is this important? Because in every conflict-prone area, there are huge investments in education, in the hope that children will develop differently. They hinge around the ability of teachers to engage children in thinking, doing, sharing, exploring, inquiring, taking initiative in learning and eventually learning to learn. However, if the teacher finds it difficult to get children to speak in the first place, to say what THEY want to say, these investments are at huge risk. As is the possibility of social change being aimed at. And this is so not just in areas that are conflict zones.
It may seem simple but in societies where children are mainly expected to ‘keep quiet’ and ‘listen to elders’ this remains a huge challenge. One suggestion that has helped teachers everywhere is – don’t ask a question to which you already know the exact answer. It works! Sometimes, solving the bigger problems of our times requires these small but dramatically useful steps.

This is what he said in the story. This thing stands true even in June 2021 and in all parts of the world. The panacea is to connect with them to make space for their own expressions. There is an ethical conspiracy we can plan here. Once you give them space, freedom and opportunity to express their ideas, that actually are their own- they start trusting you as the Leader. Here is the first thing needed to teach anyone- TRUST!

I am trying to do my part because my Teachers have done the magic on me. They taught me that we need to imagine-create and share. I do so.

About the Author
Author: Parveen Sharma
'You Create Yourself' is the belief that drives the EklavyaParv Life Long Learning Mission. The trilogy of Enhance-Empower-Encourage motivates us and we share learning contents on Communication Skills, EdTech, Life Skills, Blended & Innovative Learning and Insights about Education. These resources are Open Educational Resources (OERs) under CC-BY-NC-SA licence. Parveen is an EdTech Evangelist and has been working in the field of Innovation-driven Education for more than a decade. He writes and delivers training on EduSoMedia, E-Learning, OERs, MOOCs, EdTech, ICT, Blended and Flipped Learning, Academic Intervention, Classroom Makeover, Employability Enhancement, EdTech and Teacher-Student Learning. EklavyaParv is the celebration of his belief in the Learning Spirit of Mankind!

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