Addressing Individual Differences

Kanika Anand

Principal, The Royal Gondwana Public School, Shankarpur, Nagpur

Affiliation No. 1130081

Contact No. 9765539478

“Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace & gratitude.” Denis Waitley.

Addressing individual differences is the need of the hour in the education for sustainable development. There is no denying the fact that school children need to be happy learning new things and explore their full potential. Schools and teachers can be able to address the individual differences only when we develop a strong partnership with family. A growing problem not only in our country but across the globe is that students are more stressed than ever. In fact India has one of the highest rate of suicides among people aged between 15 to 29 years and surprisingly the reasons are failure in examination, peer pressure, parental pressure & depression. But what can be so alarming is that students take such bold moves? The psychologists suggest that students suffer from anxiety and traumatic disorder related to fear of examination. Every day near about one student commits suicide in India every 55 minutes1, which indicates that there must be something drastically wrong. The key to unlock these alarming and rising suicidal trends is to create healthy partnership amongst the school & family.

The main question is to ensure that all students get the equal opportunity to learn and reach their potential irrespective of individual differences. It can happen only after the schools build strong partnerships with family. In that case once the strong partnership of the SCHOOL-FAMILY-CHILD trio is established, the formed trio will open possibilities to understand and comprehend every child’s individual needs. Parent’s expertise i.e., knowledge about their wards likings, dislikings, strengths, weaknesses and core issues, can be clubbed with teachers/school expertise i.e., subject knowledge, curriculum, available resources and reformed education system to address individual differences in a constructive & fruitful manner. We need this TRIO to create a happy place for a child as there is no denying the fact that school going children are not happy from within. There are varied reasons for the lack of happiness amongst children. The best time of the life that students are supposed to enjoy and cherish is the time they are pushed to extreme levels which can be overwhelming for many. It is the 'golden triangle' that is being seen as the only way which can lead a child to happiness today, and that’s why schools are striving towards…the triangle of the parent, the child and the teacher. But how successful is today’s generation in forming this triangle and making sure that it is equilateral and not a scalene triangle? In order to foster this harmonic triangle, it is vital that all three parties are recognized as important partners, and that power does not slide into the hands of just the teacher or the parent, who may then use the student/child as a pawn in the power struggle. What is even more important is to understand that the child is of utmost importance and so the focus must be upon the child and we need to work on the ethos that every child is unique. We need to deal with every child differently. The teacher herself shall encourage the parent to shoulder some of the school responsibility as the parent spends more time with the child than does the teacher! If there is a discipline issue, the teacher needs to confide in the parent; maybe the parent is facing the same issue at home and thinks that the teacher does not face such issues with the child. Conversely, maybe the child is quiet at home but is otherwise at school. The parents and the teacher need to work together to make the child not just academically qualified, but a complete, well balanced person. The best thing to do would be to have a three-way face-to face communication and thrash out the so-called problems, provided the teacher and the parent are both mature enough to handle the situation.

Bring class room out of the class: Why not take children beyond closed walls classrooms to make learning more fun, enjoyable and stress free for each individual child.

Go beyond Grades: The weight of grades in today’s competitive world has increased. The girdle of grades is tightening around the neck of children which hinders the child explore his/her capabilities thereby depriving them of the available opportunities around. Its time to unleash the grade menace by infusing the confidence in each child that they are unique individuals in their own manner. The same needs to be injected into the parents mindset thereby breaking the preconceived notions of keeping grades as judgement tool.

Upgrade our thinking & set norms to come at a level playing ground with the student. Its high time that we as educators upgrade our understanding and mould our thinking framework matching the wavelength and requirements of children. The idea is to develop a parallel mechanism to give equal weightage to extra curricular activities & civic sense rather than focusing whole solely on GRADE SAGA.

Embrace technology: Technology is the best tool if utilized to the fullest can prove to be a boon in evolving as a reform resource to rectify and fine tune the current education system. The individual differences can be creased and levelled by striking a significant balance of embracing it as a medium of communication between parent –child- school trio. The exposure of technology at a higher magnitude amongst children and acceptance in the younger generation if embraced and endorsed by parents can prove to be a powerful glue bridging lots of differences with the trio as stated. Various educational apps, smart class exposures and other technology bytes that children find trendy & interesting if synced with current educational reform initiatives can act as speedy push buttons to address individual differences.

Transit from “parent to pal…”: Gone are the days of "Guru-Shishya " parampara and its time we shift gears and upgrade our thinking to figure out guru as second parent and shishya to replace a pal or buddy in true sense. The sanctity of the this age old relationship will now have a new definition wherein the second parent (teacher) to be reformed as a modern day guru fully open to understand the nuances of the modern shishya much open to react, communicate & express his inhibitions, view points and perspectives.

Moving from "Parent Teacher Meet" to "Parent Child Teacher Meet"…PTM to PCTM…: Its high time we tilt the table and move from the age old tradition of Parent Teacher Meet an equation practiced since time immemorial as a platform to convey child’s improvement areas and issues wherein the child stand isolated at the receiving end facing the volleys of complaints. The terror mounting majority of students to avoid facing those PTM days as tough times wherein result showing exposure will be exhibited need to be immediately changed as an interactive progressive 360 degree communication exercise. The recent incidents wherein children take extremely bold steps to avoid such meetings proves testimony to our urgency to reform this old practice on war footage. Let’s be innovative and give ample space, time and respect to child in these PTMs now better addressed as P"C"TMs. The extra “C” will surely add that extra “X” factor to our efforts in sorting individual differences. Our school has started successful PCTMs and lots of individual differences have been addressed amicably.

Work in sync as an old saying goes "SYNC TOGETHER OR SINK TOGETHER": We need to join hands together to fine tune the individual differences and sync together rather than taking individual loads of friction and overloading the ship increasing the probability to sink. Let’s go for a smooth sail and infuse the actionables as narrated above building a strong foundation to progress and prosper.

Kanika Anand

Principal, The Royal Gondwana Public School, Shankarpur, Nagpur