Igniting the spark in students

More than teachers there is now a need to be facilitators, who find the right talent in each student and arouse in them the desire to find their passion, writes Alice Mani.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was himself considered a poor and insignificant student during his school-life. His theory teachers had a tough time convincing him to improve his study habits and considered him hopeless. However they did not realize this was just underestimating his abilities. His field of passion was numbers and logic, and he excelled beyond bounds in that. The only reason he was able to do so was due to sheer willpower and unbreakable self-belief.

Underestimation and neglect are a common story for a lot of students in today’s world. Those students who do not get good grades are considered good for nothing and focusing efforts on them a waste of time. Unless a student is academically performing well, and answering all questions posed, teachers refuse to recognize that s/he has a talent.

This can be understood better from a real life example. Once I had a student who would usually come shabbily dressed to college, underestimation by teachers had killed his desire to learn and back bench was his second home. After a point of time, he had become so used to his failures in studies that he gave up.

On the day of his results for second year, he refused to see what his percentage was. When I asked him what the matter was, he gave me a hopeless look and said he had no expectations. In a while, he received a text from a friend saying he had passed with flying colors. The student was shocked beyond words!

And this acted as a big motivator for him.This little victory had enabled the student, once having a low esteem, realize that he is capable of much more. He started working more diligently and found his field of passion; jewellery designing. He went abroad for higher studies and focused his energies on that subject, and eventually ended up topping. Now he owns a successful jewellery shop in Bangalore and has a prosperous family life.

The moral of the story is that one should never underestimate the student. It harms his talent and inhibits him from growing further. If the student is motivated, he looks for new ways to excel and to keep up with the positive expectations. Study is not everyone’s cup of tea.

There is a need to bring a change in the way we teach and educate. More than teachers there is now a need to be facilitators. The reason why education abroad is considered better and worth investing in is because they make the children responsible, creative and independent.

The teachers do not spoon-feed the students with all the information but instead act as facilitators guiding them at every step. Students are given projects and assignments which help them study the topics deeply and understand it on their own in a more vivid manner.

This creates confidence in the students about the subject, their learning ability and their judgements. With proper guidance the students are able to exhibit and implement their creative ideas and practical comprehension of the subject.

They are appreciated on what they create which ignites a spark in them to work more meticulously and in a more disciplined manner. In order to help the student identify his true potential, teachers need to shift to the role of being a facilitator.
As teachers, parents, and counselors it is our responsibility to find the right talent in the students and arouse in them the desire to find their passion.

Moreover, motivation and belief in the student can show magnanimous improvement in the results. The student, who was a backbencher and believed he would not pass, suddenly transformed in to a hardworking, determined student with great motivation.
 Now, suppose the teachers would have shown the confidence in him and given him the required push, the student would have transformed at a much earlier point of time.

Like the famous saying goes, “Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong, even a stopped clock is right twice a day;” no student is completely hopeless or useless but possesses his or her own talent. Students who are poor in studies already feel out of competition, and when teachers show no hope in them they feel further demotivated.
This has also been proved from the critically acclaimed movie “Taare Zameen Par”. The story discusses how a dyslexic kid is disregarded by all his teachers and tagged as the dumbest student of the class. However with efforts, motivation and confidence in the student, a teacher is able to help him come out of his shell and excel.

Being a teacher is being a parent before being an educator. Teachers need to establish a connection and a relation with the students; appreciate and correct them to make them feel their importance. Understanding the psychology of a student is sometimes very difficult. When no one shows faith in the students they reach a point of saturation to toleration. Here they give up and convince themselves that they are good for nothing.
This is not just the failure of the student but also of the teacher. The teacher should continuously strive to help the student reach their maximum potential and believe in themselves.

Tagging students as “back benchers” or “failures” kills their desire to do well, study or work hard. Instead motivating the students, and recognizing their plus points enable them to go beyond their boundaries and show improvised results. And one never knows, like Albert Einstein we might be underestimating another future pioneer.

(The writer is professor and Major  Research Project Fellow, Dept Of
Commerce, Christ University, Bangalore.)

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