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Children should be taught about ‘delay of gratification’. For example, if a child is anxious for the attention of a parent or wants something, parents should let the child know that he or she would get it within a stipulated time. However, it is also imperative that parents be truthful and consistent

Most Sri Lankans, irrespective of sex, are not disciplined enough to wait in line at the bank. Most men have this irresistible itch to get into the train and bus before all women and even children. As for the women, they are oblivious to the dimensions of their body parts, invading men’s personal space with their bodies in buses, trains or just any public place. This begs the question, is this what they have reaped with 13 years of education?
Children learn competitiveness at the age of five. Most children can’t work as a team member till they are at the age 10 or 11. Some children handle competition better than most, while others become nervous wrecks. In Sri Lanka children are put into a rat race from grade one. By the time they finish school they cannot help but keep running. Being competitive requires quick decision-making, self-control and discipline. With all our competitive exams these are qualities most school leavers lack. So where has the school system gone wrong?

“Competition is different from competitiveness,” said Physician and author, Dr. Priyanga De Zoysa. “Moreover competing with others is different from competing with oneself.” He explained that great people exhibit competitiveness in the form of competing with oneself. “They raise the bar with regards to their own expectations and aspirations.” He reiterated that this is a positive trend and should be encouraged at school level Sports are another way to inculcate discipline in children at an early age. Board games like Monopoly, for example not only inculcates discipline, it also encourages analytical thinking. “Schools can popularize team sports such as cricket, basketball, netball, hokey and volleyball to inspire team spirit,” said De Zoysa.  However, exams such as grade five scholarship exam, Ordinary Level and Advanced Level are inherently competitive. Parents and children hardly have a choice but to become involved in this rat race.

“The problem is not in the school system per se,” explained De Zoysa. Parents have different agendas for ‘educating’ their children. “Every parent should ask themselves the question, why a particular child is sitting for an exam.” It is because the child is passionate about the subject or is it to glorify the family name. “If it is the latter, then the child will be dissatisfied.”

De Zoysa reiterated that the education system should let recognize any field that the child is interested in, whether it be art, dance or music, they should be equally appreciated as science and math streams. “And students who take up these streams should be equally appreciated and acknowledged.” He explained that patients are a result of contentment. According to him children who are dissatisfied and discontent as students exhibit lack of discipline later in life. In order to combat this trend De Zoysa suggests a bit of ‘tweaking’ to the education system. Academic burden should definitely be lessened, said De Zoysa, while creating more opportunities to engage in creative work, both in and outside classroom, thereby improving the thought process. Teacher training and revision of syllabi should be adopted in support of this tweaking process.

However, the school system may have little to do with patience or lack of it. Parents should train the child to take turns, to wait until another has finished talking, how not to intrude on adult conversation.

Children should be taught about ‘delay of gratification’. For example, if a child is anxious for the attention of a parent or wants something, parents should the child know that he or she would get it within a stipulated time. However, it is also imperative that parents be truthful and consistent.
SP