What I learnt with Jinan ?

I’ve known Jinan ever since I got interested in education. My first interaction with him was in Bangalore while I was working with an alternative school and he was holding a talk. I walked in with excitement and came out disappointed. Then, I found him quite a snob, someone who’s very rigid and frankly just knows how to critique without giving any solution. Perhaps, I was also influenced by peer reviews of him – which stated just what I decribed above.

Few years later, we happen to work together again on a project at Sanchi University. Again, nothing much happened. I was already biased against him. We soon departed.

It took sometime for me to realize that I am not seeing Jinan, I am seeing a picture of Jinan -which is not allowing me to meet him as a person and really hear what he is saying.

We were almost not in touch with each other for quite sometime, till I became father. Now, I was hungry for wisdom about children. I was knocking every door, reading every book, watching every Ted talk on children, pregnancy, fatherhood, education etc. Me and Jinan again started talking and he gave me couple of strange personal advices. One, don’t have gaps between two children more than 2 and less than 1 year. Two, he said – have at least 3 children. I still remember how hesitant he was while sharing this with me. But, at that moment – I heard him. I wanted to understand him. Why he’s saying, what he’s saying !

Don’t get curious about what I did with his advice. Fast forward to 2019, Jinan and I start talking on few more initiatives and the Bhopal and Farm gathering was conceptualized. I happen to spend lot of time with him during session and off session during this time. We travelled together, lived together , ate together. This was perhaps the first time, I was able to see , hear and understand Jinan without my biases and opinions.

Alright, so much for the background story – Let me finally come back to the topic of this blog – what did I learn from him ? Well , I am still chewing on a lot of it and it’ll only become clear with time. But here is something that I can share with you as of today : –

  • We’ve focussed too much on “teaching” and have given very little attention to “learning”. Hence, we have made some very fundamental mistakes in the way we raise our children.
  • To understand learning, nothing is better than really observing a child.
  • There is a stark difference in how children are brought up in traditional , tribal societies and modern societies. A lot of traditional methods were very conducive for child’s growth, most of modern settings are quite detrimental to child’s growth.
  • Child learns the world while we get him to learn the word. This create major conflict in child.
  • Play is a natural way of learning not only in human but in all species. It’s a very precious, essential activity but we’ve not understood it and have undermined it’s importance.
  • Toys are a result of this not understanding child and her play. Toys thus turn out to be quite detrimental to child’s creativity and overall well being.
  • Television, mobile and newspaper are something that we need to really worry about , especially when it comes to child’s interaction with it.
  • Seeing is the core of learning. To see, is to learn.
  • Too much words, intellectualism distorts understanding and ability to see.
  • Schools are doing a lot of damage to child’s innate ability to learn, to be creative. Alternative schools, homeschools and the rest of it are no better in deeper sense. They might be superficially better.
  • We need to reimagine learning by realigning our understanding of children – not through books, some experiments, ideas or theories but by directly observing children.
  • Least interference is the best policy while being with children, for they are complete, intelligent being. Not what we imagine them to be empty slates or dumb young ones.

Well, I will stop here and will continue sharing more learings in different blogs as and when I feel ready.

Overall, I really enjoyed a lot. It exposed my own ignorance and misunderstanding of children and education. I had assumed I knew a lot while all I knew was very superficial. Now, I need to start learning.

I feel deeply grateful for this experience and learning in life. I really thank Jinan and all my friends (Ruchi, Sandeep (both) , Tapan, Kunal, Deepa, Priyamvada, Shantanu and Rekha) who made this gathering possible.

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