The Un-learning Curve For Parents - Part-1
I just finished a 21 kilometer marathon. I have flat feet. I walk with my feet pointing outwards but I walk normally and I run normally. My flat feet have not affected my daily activities in any way. So why am I talking about something so irrelevant?
Here's the story.
After running 21k I had extreme swelling only on the arch (or lack of it) on both my feet. The pain was so bad that I could not put my feet on any hard surface for about three days. Even after that they were sore. Soreness is a normal phenomenon if you have run 21k without any prior training. However, after the rest period, I ran with one of the pacers for the marathon and a fitness guru and he corrected my every single foot strike for 5k that we ran. That would be 45 minutes of running. Approximately 150 foot strikes a minute.
So if you do the math you will find he corrected me around 6500 times. Now why would he correct me 6500 times, every time my foot touched the ground when I have lived 28 years of my life and run 3 years of my life with my feet pointing outwards without any harm or damage that I know of? I have gone from struggling to run 5k to running 21k with the same foot strike!
Similarly, why would you, as parents deviate from the norm when it comes to making parenting choices? Even if it means refraining from reading fantasies to children under 3.5 years of age or teaching them ABCD or even teaching them to count basic 1, 2, 3,… You may say the whole world did not go to a Montessori environment! Or the most intelligent people were taught that way too and most importantly we grew up learning that way and we are fine.
I as a Montessorian having continual interactions with parents can recognise your unconcern about these little things. It is something as inane, pointless and too minute a detail just like my foot strike! It got me past the finish line, it will get your child the best job, right?
So here's how I put a single minded focus on my walking and running after that run: every step I took, even if it was to the bathroom, I focused on putting my feet straight. When I stood to teach, I made a conscious effort to put my feet straight. If I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, half asleep, I put my feet straight. When I ran, every foot strike was a conscious decision to make it fall straight.
Even with children, we often have preconceived notions about what they should know and the process of making them know that. We believe it is normal; but a lot of times, what is normal and common is not necessarily right. As parents and teachers we often forget that a child is more than just academics and what he knows.
He also has to develop his emotional intelligence, his mental strength and abilities, his will power and inner discipline. Academics is just one minute, however important, aspect of a child's growing up days. If a child learns to persevere, he will work hard to understand something which doesn't come to him naturally. But if a child has only learnt to acquire knowledge, he will soon give up on what he does not understand.
There must have been a time in life which all of us as adults have been through at least once where no matter what educational degree we have, no matter where we are qualified from, the only thing that comes to our rescue is our grit, determination and discipline. So says a marathoner and what discipline and determination is another book that I may end up writing!
And while we are talking about learning, I figured that unlearning is far more difficult and a lot more important in life than learning! I had to unlearn what my mind, body and habit have been doing for all of my life.
And I am still at it. I am 28 years of age and since the day I started walking, I have only known this way! Can you imagine how difficult it must be to be intentional about changing what is a part of my mental makeup? Similarly, as parents, it may be a tough, risk taking but well-payingchanges you may have to start making for your child's developmental years.
So what is it that we need to unlearn? And what are things we need to unfollow? I, as a teacher always ask a few questions to parents who I meet so that we know we are looking at the same goal.
Answers to these questions, when resonate in a parent-teacher-child relationship, we know the result is going to be a happy, emotionally well-developed, mentally strong, self-disciplined child (a real child, yes!).
I often ask my parents if they want a child to be intelligent or a learner, are they willing to wait till the child follows his natural learning process or do they have a set timetable that they have set for the child, do they want a child who discovers and learns even if it is a slow process or are they looking at adults to provide the knowledge.
Take a moment and think what your answers would be. I am sure you'd always choose the latter because it sounds good, but would want to do the prior. The challenge is following what you choose no matter how difficult.
NOTE: What are these predetermined philosophies that you may have to fight? And how, as parents would you know the right way from the common way? And more importantly, why would you want to believe someone who is just a certified Montessori teacher working towards her own school? If you read my previous post, you would know why I feel so strongly about fighting the conventional and learning to believe in something that is is not 'normal'.
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