Children in schools-Dehumanising practices

If educators think the children should not make mistakes‚ they will be just making their students cram the subject-matter‚ which comes to an end immediately after the so-called final examinations.

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On Feb 9, 2013, Diane Ravitch wrote a version of a teacher on her blog: “Politics and non-educators have changed our schools. They have turned them into businesses focused only on numbers and status. They have taken away the human component. Instead of teachers focusing on the well-being of the children, we have teachers forced to shove massive amounts of information down the throats of children who actually need love and nurturing. They have taken away the time to incorporate fun that kids need in order to develop a love for learning.”

In education, dehumanization indicates a process of educating children without considering them as human. When children are considered as objects of learning or teaching, this attitude leads towards dehumanization in education. Capital punishment, sexual abuse, bullying, over-loaded homework, dominating attitude, biasness, etc are some of the factors leading to dehumanization of children in our schools. The last, least, lowest and the lost group in society are the ones who mostly suffer from this syndrome. That is the reason why there have always been dropouts of children each year from this lower quintile of the socio-economic background.

A teacher always thinks that s/he is the most intelligent personality in the school and students come with tabula-rasa. This may be true immediately after birth but they already will have learnt something at home and in the neighborhood before being enrolled in schools. Besides, the impact of technology makes them educated these days before they learn something in their kindergarten and/or grade one. In this context, the pedagogy used in schools, with an attitude of ‘children know nothing’, is wrong. This further indicates that we, the educators, are preparing curricula to ask students to cope with and not the educators coping with children’s curricula. Have we ever carried out research on the needs and interest of children and incorporated the results in preparing the curricula for them? So, we are trying to deposit our knowledge as it is in our children’s brain, or say, we are not making them better than ourselves.

Children are not mini-adults. They have their own utopia. Transforming their utopia into reality, or making them known to what is real and what is fallacy, is the main job of the educators. Not that the way they teach must be understood by everyone the same way. The attitude of making everyone in class ‘the same’ is wrong. Children are not the bricks that are made of equal size. Unfortunately, our education system has not thought of our children being more than a brick. This dehumanizing process is rampant in almost all the countries.

Punishment is another major factor. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was a traditional proverb believing in learning through punishment. Children are humans; they make mistakes as we all do. So it is natural that they make mistakes. If people do not make mistakes they never learn; neither will they become creative. Learning by mistakes is to promote the inner capability of children to come out. This, in turn, leads to creativity. If educators think the children should not make mistakes, they will be just making their students cram the subject matters which come to an end immediately after the so-called final examinations. Unfortunately, the wrong philosophy has been carried out by our system since centuries. Punishment by beating the children is an example. In Nepal, children losing their eyesight and/or ear-drum because of the teacher hitting them are some recent examples.

Making the students silent in class is another form of dehumanization. Educators, in the name of discipline, are snatching the freedom of our children. One can see the teachers in nursery classes with sticks in their hands, scolding children to keep quiet. Is this not a crime? This indicates that our teachers are not aware of child-psychology. Neither are they knowledgeable on how to deal with children in classrooms. In fact, they do not know what learning is about.

Dealing with children of different abilities is yet another issue in dehumanization. Most schools in developing countries do not provide them access to schools. If some schools do, they do not treat them as children. This bias gives a bad feeling and creates inferiority complex to those who are differently-abled. Moreover, they will be discouraged to learn or even come to school. This has been happening simply because the school and teachers do not have the knowledge and attitude of “inclusivity”. Not only differently-abled, in countries like Nepal and India, Dalits have also been treated as different species.

Each child in a class is different from the others. Considering them as of same capability, giving them over-loaded homework, and trying to prepare them for the same with so-called “examination” are some of the other factors dehumanizing our children. Should not they get time for fun after long hours at school? Are we helping them to grow in a balanced manner? There are many such practices in our schools which wrongly lead our children to the future world. Unless and until the national system of education transforms its traditional practices, we will not be producing humans from our schools.

source:WAGLEY,MANA PRASAD (2013),"Children in schools-Dehumanising practices", The Himalayan Times,30  Oct 2013
Dr. Wagley is an educationist
photo:The Himalayan Times

2013-10-30 | EducateNepal


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