As you would have noticed, this post is a deviation from the “If Not Now…” series.
In the last couple of weeks, I have rediscovered the joy of writing letters. Of course these letters were written in the form of an email, but without any of the shortcuts that are so typical of the electronic medium. The letter that I am sharing below is something I wrote yesterday after attending the “Curriculum Morning” at school.
To give you all some background… In India, my sons studied in The Shriram Millennium School in Noida. It is one of the top schools in Noida, with a good mix of academics and extra-curricular activities. In Munich, my children go to an International school. The International Baccalaureate system gives tremendous emphasis on holistic learning based on Inquiry, Action and Reflection, where children are compulsorily required to take a lot of ownership. According to me, it is one of the best ways of making children learn and to prepare them for the future. My younger son, Aahaan, who is in Grade 3 has made tremendous progress under this teaching method. However, I felt that my elder son Tanay, who has always been one of the top performers in all his classes in India, took the easy route in the IB school, since there are no exams (till grade 7) and not much academic pressure vis-a-vis Indian schools. I wrote this letter to communicate this concern to the Deputy Principal.
Dear Mr XXXXX,
Thank you for the information and clarifications provided in today’s MYP2 Curriculum evening. I am glad that in terms of shared values, the school, and both Rajiv and I, are mostly on the same page.
Today, I had raised a concern regarding motivating children to do better. You had very rightly pointed out the importance of ‘Intrinsic Motivation’ as compared to ‘External Motivation”. Belonging to the generation of “Rat-racers”, and experiencing the brunt of achieving a finite dose of success with infinite dose of stress, I can not agree more, that putting undue pressure on children to perform academically is not the right way of moulding them for the future.
However, I also believe that being content in life has nothing to do with being mediocre. One can be content and still be the best. As new borns and toddlers teach us everyday, each individual has an ability to be better than their previous selves. The keyword being “their previous selves” and not “others”. And I think this is the key difference between a rat-race and real growth.
But the question is that amidst so many distractions, how do we ensure that children are intrinsically motivated to better themselves. How can we as teachers and parents ensure that they experience the joy of travelling this path of continuous evolution, where each step results in Self motivation to take the next higher step.
I can only talk about my son Tanay (Grade 7C). My worry for him is not about his grades, but the fact that I am seeing him slowly getting comfortable with Mediocrity. I know what he is capable of, but seeing him settle for half of what he is capable of is what concerns me. It’s as if he has lost self motivation and drive to do his best, and is becoming content with a half-hearted effort.
I DO NOT want more tests or homework to push him. What I would really like for him is that he realises his own potential and makes an honest effort to achieve that.
While we as parents continue to encourage him (and sometimes push him because of frustration), I would really like the support of school in this endeavour.
Looking forward to hearing your views, suggestions, action and ideas on this.
Thank you and Best Regards,
The reason I am sharing this letter is because I think, irrespective of the kind of schools, many of us, parents, find ourselves in similar situation. In case you share this boat with me, please feel free to use the above letter in order to share your concerns with your respective school.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,