Head, Heart, Health and Hands-on

Head, Heart, Health and Hands-on:
4Hs are the keys for better upbringing

Raising a child is a full-time job. According to modern pedagogy, 4Hs add on the skill to it: Opines Dr Anshu Arora, Principal, Amity International School, Gurugram

Oh! my child
Don’t run wild.
You are the future,
Be strong and sure.
Fear not, just move on…

New York Times Parenting blogger Jessica Lahey points that most of our children’s inability to deal with failure, and therefore succeed, stems from our generation’s unwillingness to step away from our kids. Spoon-feeding and helicopter parenting have caused enough damage in the past. Raising children in today’s time and age add up to the digital challenge wherein pressure can come from the unsuspecting screen of a phone or laptop. Peer pressure is in vogue and most teenagers are miserable unless they have advanced electrical gadgets. Even the little ones know that a chip is not to eat, a mouse does not just scurry down a hole and that a tablet is not just a panacea for illness or an ailment.

Heavy thrust on media, globalization and taxing job-scenario has had a toll on one and all. These kids have to deal with the generation gap, single parent family, live-in relationships of their parents, virtual world and cut-throat competition. The humongous task of preparing children for a future full of challenges, threats and uncertainties is quite daunting, and the scariness in the present day jumps up a few orders of magnitude with each passing hour.

As an educationist, treading in classrooms for the past 25 years, I am, at times, quite pleased by the confidence the children showcase, since 21st century demands a kid to have high analytical acumen along with soft skills. But, on the flip side, I am also disheartened to see their stress, lack of commitment and delusion in face of hardships. The headlines of our newspapers often send shock waves with children attempting suicide, resorting to drugs and taking law in their hands. Media begins making hypothetical suppositions. Here’s taking a gander at a portion of the untold realities, the child of today though tech-savvy is devoid of emotional and social vigour. We have reached an era where kids in absence of their siblings can barely relate to the word ‘cousin’. Information is available in plenty but there is endless confusion. The child is unclear about where to go and what to do!

Swami Vivekananda, the patriot saint of modern India prescribed ‘man-making’ and ‘character-building education’ as the need of the hour. He had envisioned a society with a new type of human being in whom knowledge, action, work and concentration were harmoniously blended, and he proposed a new type of life-long education for achieving this goal. There is a remarkable similarity between Vivekananda’s thoughts and actions a century ago and the present day concerns. His vision of education — the amalgamation of Western science and Indian spirituality and culture, as the essence of human development, are as relevant today; as they were, then.

Both educators and parents have a responsibility to raise kids with a strong sense of self-image who won’t get easily influenced by peer pressure—be it from those around them or the ubiquitous ether of the Internet. We must focus on their holistic development by working on the 4Hs i.e. the development of their head, heart, health and hands-on training.

HEAD — Learning is as old as human existence; even pre-historic people needed education to survive.  Not only man, but animals are also endowed with the faculty of intelligence. They use intelligence to adapt and mould themselves to their surroundings. There is an expression in English — to give someone a ‘head start’ in life. All parents strive to do so for their children. They toil hard to give their offspring a better life than they themselves ever had. A well-versed or knowledgeable individual is said to be ‘head and shoulder’ above anybody else.

The parameters of Intelligence quotient have changed. We need analysis and synthesis much more than mere acquisition of facts and data. We need to move from an individualistic knowledge acquisition culture towards a collaborative knowledge creation culture of learning. There is an urgent need to revisit our classroom, redefine pedagogy and focus on deep and lifelong learning.

Dr Anshu Arora, CBSE awardee and Principal of Amity International School, Gurugram has over 25 years of teaching & administrative experience in prestigious institutions like DAV, Ryan and Bal Bharti. She also mentored another branch of Bal Bharti School at Chennai. She has been involved with CBSE regarding inspection of schools, accreditation process and as a Master Trainer for training Principals and teachers. Recipient of Jewel of India Award, Limca Book recognition, Best Principal, Best Guru, winner at Cyber-Fair and an all India topper from Hotel Management Institute, Pusa, Dr Arora was invited as an Indian representative at BETT Asia leadership summit held at Singapore. She was felicitated with International Leadership Award at Dubai. She headed the Quality Circle Convention at Mauritius. She was the coordinator of 5th International Children Theater Festival co-hosted by Ryan Group of Schools and HT Pace. She has been closely associated with Cultural Exchange program and Model United Nations. 
Under her mentorship, the Amity school has set newer benchmarks by winning the School Excellence Award. She has done her PhD on ‘Media habits of school children’ with a large number of research papers. She has designed websites and interactive computer applications. She has edited many CBSE books. Recently, she has authored two fictions— The School Tales for the school goers and Say Bye to Goodbye for the young adults. She has also written COMPtitude, a series of computer-cum-aptitude books for classes 1 to 8. She is an administrator, educator, author, speaker and a lifelong Learner.

HEART — Social and Emotional quotient is vital. Equally important is the knowledge and possession of 21st Century skills. Promoting peace is the need of the hour and compassion is essential for a peaceful co-existence of humanity. Wise men and women have emphasised the need to be brave and evasion of ‘herd’ mentality. We need compassionate individuals who think of others’ problems, joys and sorrows as their own. An emotionally well-balanced person stands a better chance to cope with turmoil of life, than a person whose EQ is low. God has given us a heart, not only to pump blood into every cell and organ of our body but also to show compassion and develop strong emotional bonding with our fellow beings.

The sense of expansion of one’s identity, being a ‘thinking person’, and seeking a bigger purpose in life along with sharing leads to true fulfilment (not mere achievement).

HEALTH — The age-old maxim ‘a healthy mind lives in a healthy body’ has not lost its sheen and undoubtedly, physical education plays a vital role in the overall development of a child.

HANDS-ON — Practical aspects of learning and effective use of technology in all settings is essential. Mere theoretical and lecture method of teaching is considered ‘passé’. Demonstration of scientific experiments and practical hands-on methods of gaining knowledge are proved to be more effective. What a child reads, he might soon forget. However, if a child actually sees the flowering of plants, chirping of birds, the beautiful moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn; he or she will remember it for life and this is Hands-on’ experience — simple, doable and practical.

Parental guidance, schools and the assessment practices need a major paradigm shift. We need to focus on what is learnt rather than the grades. Head is pivotal to all learning but learning for life needs to be application based (hands-on). Values and emotions have an important role and that reside in our heart. Good health is like the efficient engine that propels the body to surge ahead. We are preparing our children for an unknown and challenging future. These children, therefore, must be problem solvers and decision makers. The 4H is a sure shot, multi-pronged and programmatic approach to prepare the ground for them to grow into responsible and humane adults. Strength and goodness are inherent in every individual. The aim is to manifest it, by making them ‘STRONGER’ not just physically but also intellectually and emotionally. It is to seek some meaning in life or purpose which will enrich their lives and expand their horizon from ‘ME-MINE’ self-absorption. Children have to be taught that there is far greater satisfaction in doing a ‘tiny’ good act to another child or person than to merely eat, live and be merry!

Raising a child is like the growth of a tree. We, the educators and parents should provide a conducive environment for these young ‘saplings’ to grow, with strong branches, leaves and flowers. Values, character and integrity are the roots and the flowering tree is a well-groomed youngster, who is the future of our nation. Raising strong children is writing the much-needed new blueprint for the next generation. It goes without saying that the world is but a reflection of the children that habitat it. So let’s provide our children with a myriad of opportunities to hone their innate skills which will, in turn, help them to unleash their full potential and thus enable us to prepare strong, stable and sensitive global citizens.