Thursday, August 7, 2014

Learning from Conflict

The entire country and especially Bangalore is protesting the rape of a 6 year old in a school. Parents are out protesting on the road demanding action. CM’s remarks are making the news. All parents with school going children know about the issue and are talking about it at home, office and public places…everywhere.
But what about the children? Somehow we tend to leave children out of all conversations with regards to the ugly side of the society. For most parents and even educationists, children must live in a cocoon, not only unharmed but even uninformed about what’s happening in the society.
But do you think a child doesn’t get to know when the parents fight? Of course they do because they have been watching you closely. However, the same may not happen when it’s a social issue. Children often get misinformed or illinformed, making their own meanings of a situation.
Having said that, what most of us parents and even educationists miss out is the opportunity available to us to talk about these issues with children at such points and consequently impact their learning. This is the time for parents to talk to their children about the menace of rape.
I checked with a fellow educator friend. Thankfully, she told me that she spoke to her daughter about it but not the son. She now plans to have a conversation with her son as well.
Krishna Kumar, former director NCERT had taken this matter up beautifully in the book ‘Learning from Conflict’. He shares that every time there is a riot or bomb blast in the city, while everybody talks about it, the schools remain silent. The teachers don’t talk to the children about it. I am told that’s what’s happening in Bangalore.
While the entire media is talking about the issue, all that the schools around India are doing is gossip about it in staff rooms and corridors. It’s a time for schools to ‘learn from this conflict’ and engage students in a discussion around the issue, appropriately. There is a lot of learning which will happen in the process. They will be surprised of what comes out of it. At least get the teachers in a room and have a discussion on the issue.
There is a lot of discussion around the issue of sex education in this country and its still a big taboo in the top schools of this country.  People see the Bangalore incident as related and desist from the topic. It’s the same mentality of women not talking of abuse. But what would explain the schools not discussing the Muzaffarnagar riots or the Gaza invasion and killings?

Its high time we realise that we could utilise conflicts as great learning opportunities for us as well as our children. Are we really educating children merely to become great professionals (read Maths/Science) or are we educating them to become citizens of this world? who know how to deal with issues like hatred and conflict. Its time to reorient education. Its time for education for peace and sustainable development. 

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