The learning journey and the essence of future readiness

While thinking about the learning journey of a child and the entire spirit of understanding. Time and again, we think about ‘How to enhance a child’s learning abilities’. With the crux, the journey revolves around ‘learning and understanding’ in school life.

We do examine the purpose and consequences of our teaching.  Our teaching revolves around set curriculum and holistic development of a child, and current wisdom and practice tell us to ensure that the children learn what we want them to know, with their instinct of being Kinaesthetic, auditory or visual learner. 

Critical reflection – Is it time to rethink about Holistic development domains, the curriculum and the syllabus we have worldwide in the early years? We need to question ourselves; we need to rethink and reframe the curriculum with the fundamental essence of life ‘the basic understanding to understanding things’. We need to rethink and add more domains to make the development Holistic. The teachers deliver the visionaries create. The creation should be futuristic as per developmental domain and child-centric to implement.

  Currently, in formative years, the curriculum emphasises on little basic things like colour, shape, size, letters, numbers, themes, and celebrations hence we do not have time to bring in some essential skills which are required lifelong. If we focus on life skills, probably children will learn to apply these colours in real life and will be able to relate with shapes and shall be ready to celebrate life in true spirit. We limit the child’s curiosity with a set curriculum and pattern of learning. Despite knowing all grown-ups know colours, shape or size still these little things in the curriculum bothers the teachers a lot. If not understood in the set time frame, the concern is extended to the parents. The fear of not knowing these basic things in the decided time frame kills the child’s instinct to explore, and it gets crushed with the burden of teachers and parents and the set age-old curriculum. Why do we, as educators and parents focus on things, which one can learn by just mere simple experience in life?

Re understanding Curiosity and Exploration in early years– Anyone related to a child the teacher, educator, mother, child psychologist and people who understand developmental domains understand children in early years are researchers who are fascinated by anything they see. The maximum synapses happen in the early years.  During which neurons are organised to form the intricate workings of the brain, a critical time for brain development. This development includes essential neurological processes that establish patterns of behavioural and emotional functioning during subsequent stages of life. Since a child’s early experiences and environment can significantly affect the development of specific areas of the brain, the impact of neglect or zero synapses in the essential area can seriously affect his or her ability respond in the required field in the future. The child’s brain is influenced by the combined roles of genetics and experience. They like to explore everything with all the senses; they get delighted with the cause and effect of anything and everything. Every child experiences what hot is by touching the cup of tea and coffee, and once experiencing how it feels, they ensure not to reach it again even if we get a regular cup, adding on any child who has fallen from the bed knows the boundaries of the bed and always remains careful while getting down. By these examples, it is not that we should let them do anything dangerous to learn by experience, but we need to understand we have to let them have their way of perceiving things without our intervention and set answers.

 The brain’s capacity for change decreases with age, the cognitive, emotional, and social abilities are interrelated and intertwined throughout the life course. Knowing that the child’s environment directly affects synapses and allows for neurological optimisation, we can extend our curriculum with new ways. To ensure children develop as “whole” individuals who are well balanced in their outlook on life and their understanding of themselves concerning the world. We need to rethink and reframe our current curriculums.

The current scenario- The school and the environment diverge the curiosity into fact-based learning with fixed syllabus and grades. The more they know the fixed, the better they are graded. Most of the times, when we see people not able to communicate, express, collaborate, listen, respond, and control. We need to rethink and identify why these grown-ups miss out. The answer will be simple the essential skills were missed out at the right age.

The reality– As an adult, our life revolves around, time management, critical thinking, independence, communication skills, confidence, waiting for turns, collaboration, expressions, sharing, caring, understanding and recreating, failing and reworking, and many more and when we require these the most why none of these is there in the school curriculums?

The future– There is a need to explore our thoughts, feelings, and experiences and making an informed decision on how to fit in the ideas, concepts, and theories that can make children future-ready. The need is to make changes and improvements in the practices.

What if we have a curriculum with learning having multiple outcomes rather than focusing on the one which we as adults feel is right. What if the curriculum lets children learn and discover everything, including problem-solving by trial and error methods. What if the curriculum has an open-ended experience which does not have a right or a wrong way? Will it help children develop the logic to understand many right and wrong ways?

Do we need to rethink how to lays emphasises on social skills, self-knowledge, self-regulation, self-esteem, Is there a need to let children question, research, reflect, respond, and co-construct our understanding with new perspectives and more complex questions. Do we need to ensure children explore the importance of compliance, adaptability, perseverance, self-motivation, and logic to understand whether they are right or wrong in whatever they are doing? Are these skills to complex and open-ended; hence we fear to incorporate in the learning journey? Or we can convert these learning goals into learning outcomes by giving the right experience to build life skills at the right age. We need children to be adults who can handle anything coming their way with patience, knowledge and diligence.

The solution can be-

Reframing the holistic development domains, including

Ø Cognitive skills to have domains – Critical thinking, Analytical thinking, Problem-solving. Divergent thinking, planning and organising

Ø Language-communication skills, expression, writing and reflections, public speaking, persuasion,

Ø Socio-Emotional skills should be two different domains-

·       Emotional – self-respect, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-belief, self-analysis, confidence, values and character, freedom of expression

·       Socio – Team work, collaboration, adaptability, mentoring, compromise, equality, Cross-cultural awareness.

Ø Physical- Gross and fine motor

Ø Creative and aesthetic – Creative freedom, design thinking

How it can be done-

Reworking on curriculum

·       Have Structured curriculum involving Parents as partners, including a rubric for parents to access while children are working learning and exploring at home.

·       Have process and procedure in place. Including diverse situation and area and circumstance in mind while planning.

·       Teachers to be mentors rather than one just working on curriculum and class management

·       Critical analysis to be a part of a quarterly plan/monthly plan

·       Include hands-on activities and opportunities for children and teachers

·       Include activities to develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills

·       Include teamwork and individual activities for socio-emotional development

·       Include collaboration and cooperation rather than competition

·       Include social responsibility, tolerance, community service

·       Assess by evaluation of children’s projects, goals and learning experiences rather than the set pattern of test and exams.

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