Varun Duggirala Is A Dad Who Believes Learning Should Be Guided By Curiosity Rather Than Goals

Varun Duggirala Is A Dad Who Believes Learning Should Be Guided By Curiosity Rather Than Goals

11 May 2022 | 7 min Read

Manisha Pradhan

Author | 74 Articles

He calls himself a ‘Midlife-Crisis Creator’ but he’s just being modest because there’s a lot more to him than that. Varun Duggirala is an entrepreneur, podcaster, content creator, bestselling author, the man behind The Glitch (India’s prime digital agency for brands), a fitness enthusiast, and most importantly, a doting dad who is happiest when he’s doing things like learning ballet from his four year old daughter!

The list doesn’t stop there, Varun Duggirala also helps people with his personal development videos where he talks about myriad everyday issues from FOMO to struggling with self doubt, channelling emotions, tips on podcasting and the most fun ‘How To Dad’ tips.

His book Everything Is Out Of Syllabus; An Instruction Manual For Life And Work, is one that everyone needs to read, especially parents. It’s full of anecdotal wisdom without being preachy. The book talks about how education prepares us for situations covered within a set syllabus, but in reality, most of life happens outside the four walls of a classroom. 

Varun Duggirala believes in out-of-the-box thinking, he believes that learning for kids should be guided by curiosity rather than goals. In this interview with BabyChakra, he talks about the education system, raising his daughter, equal parenting and more. 

Varun Duggirala’s book, Everything Is Out of Syllabus is his way of giving his readers a way to build their own rule book

How did the thought of writing your book Everything Is Out of Syllabus come to you? 

The period of my life ( like many of our lives) between the ages of 18-25 was a period of deep confusion. Confusion about life, career, relationships and pretty much everything. And now that I’m going to be 40 in a few months, I wanted to write a book for the 19/20-year-old me on what I’ve learnt about those very points of confusion that I dealt with during that period and the years post that. Because life doesn’t come with a rule book, we write it as we go through the years. This is my way of giving my readers a way to build their own rule book.

Please tell us a little about the book. 

The book is built on five fundamental pillars that I believe we’re never taught but can only learn as we go through life. We’re never told how to “start” things in life. We’re never taught how to make “choices” ( even though we make choices through each moment. We’re never taught how to learn ( not education but learn), we’re never taught how to connect and build relationships with those we’re bound to, and most importantly, we’re never taught how to reflect within ourselves. These five things are broken into more minor learnings within each that encompass my book. It covers not just stories and insights from my own life but also a ton of wisdom from many other sources.  

What can schools do to help children think out of the box? 

The only way to think out of the box is to follow one’s curiosity. This fundamental shift of allowing learning to be guided by curiosity rather than goals develops genuinely out of the box thinking. It also ensures we never stick to the same for all children, but rather evolve it to cover so many disparate topics and perspectives that innately make everyone’s learning richer.

What, according to you, needs to change in our education system?

I think education at a fundamental level needs to move from an industrialised learning system to more scientific/creative focussed learning. With the pace at which the world evolves daily, there can never be a straightforward set of curricula for anyone to follow. But more a broader framework based on skills and tools that enable children to develop a deeper understanding of the fundamentals and how to use them in the real world. 

Varun wants his daughter to find something fun and exciting in every part of her life, even if it seems mundane

As a father, what are the things you do with your daughter to help her build life skills? 

I actually try to expose my daughter to broader cultural elements from music, creativity and self-expression along with idea generating practices like allowing her to use and evolve her sense of imagination and people skills. More than anything, it’s how she converses with the people she meets that becomes my core focus, along with the fact that she should find something fun and exciting in every part of her life, even if it seems mundane. 

Do you think children need to be taught about life and the world’s ways, or do you think they learn as they grow? 

It’s a mixture. We shouldn’t shield them from the world but rather be honest with them. Too much shielding leads to a “stuck in a bubble” mindset. This doesn’t serve them right in the long term but understanding the nuance of what is too much too soon is important.

Are there any rules that you have set for your daughter? 

Yep, we have a bunch of rules for her. But we also allow her to ask why they exist. With kids, they become more mindful of finding structure in their lives as they grow. We also allow her to break some rules. 

Varun says we often misconstrue equal to be exact reflections of duty for both parents when it comes to equal parenting

How important do you think is equal parenting? 

Equal parenting is the only way parenting should be. But i think we misconstrue equal to be exact reflections of duty for both parents. Equal as we see it is sharing the responsibilities of bringing up our daughter in a way that we both focus on what we can innately take care of, and take away what the other would instead not do while maintaining the core fundamental that the balance of tasks shouldn’t be heavily skewed towards one of us doing all the work. This nuance is essential.

As a parent, what are the things you handle when it comes to bringing up your daughter? 

I wake her up and get her ready for school every morning ( my wife takes on from her breakfast), and we take turns dropping her at school. I’m more than happy to take on all poop-related duties & any nighttime needs ( which now she thankfully doesn’t wake up for). We share or try to do all activities together with her in everything else. 

“I want to enable my daughter to be a true global citizen” – Varun Duggirala

Usually, moms are the bad cop when it comes to disciplining kids. What’s the scene with you? Are you the good cop or the bad cop when it comes to your daughter? 

I don’t think we have an excellent cop-bad cop mentality, but we both have ways to deal with her when she needs a sterner voice. I’m, at most times, the silly one but also the one who can be very tough on her when she needs it ( my wife is a lot more balanced). But I believe showing that human beings look and behave differently basis one’s actions is critical for a child to know and understand.

What is the one thing you disliked or liked from your childhood and don’t want or would love your daughter to experience?

I had a lovely childhood. My parents had me young and gave me all the exposure to how the world is that they could. I’d want to extend that further and enable my daughter to be a true global citizen with a broad understanding of how it flows and functions.

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