Of discovering geniuses

Arshid Malik

Recently I chanced upon a talk delivered by a famous educationist regarding the creativity hidden inside children and factors that kill it. The educationist spoke of an instance where a mother after receiving complaints from teachers at her daughter’s school regarding her lack of attention and concentration felt convinced that something was terribly wrong with her. She consulted with a doctor regarding her daughter’s “problem”.

The doctor examined the child fully and then assigned her certain tasks which she was not able to carry out thoroughly. The doctor observed that she was not able to concentrate and had poor retaining power.

He advised the mother that she should visit him again for a secondary consultation after a week’s time. As the mother-daughter duo were about to exit the doctor’s clinic the doctor switched on the radio which sat on his desk. An instrumental song was playing and the doctor observed that the patient in case started dancing while leaving. She picked up the notes and her body moved to the music. The doctor asked the mother to turn back and that she did. Her daughter was gyrating to the music while standing at the door.

The doctor pointed this out to the mother and told her that her daughter was perfectly fine and that she is a good dancer. The doctor explained the situation at hand to the mother telling her that the cognition and concentration of her daughter was exemplary evidenced by the fact that she responded to music in a beautiful way. “She is a dancer and wants to dance.

That is her talent”, the doctor told the mother. The mother was convinced of the “diagnosis” and the very next day she admitted her daughter into a dance school. As years slipped by the daughter turned into a very avid dancer and her talent won her many awards and accolades. Today she runs a famous dance school of her own and earns more than enough to support her crippled mother and ailing father.

This is a story that narrates the pathology of people who “teach” children as also parents while they are not able to comprehend the talents and creativity hidden inside every child. Children are born creative, yes all of them, and if allowed to exercise their creativity they grow up to be absolutely amazing people who are very good at whatever they do.

In most of the cases, we find that parents look at their children through their self-created narrow “fields of vision” and tend to thrust upon their children what they wanted to do in their lives and could not or else things they think are “necessary” for a secure future in a very consumerist manner.

In this alignment children are pushed around and they are not able to exercise their creative side. At schools the same thing happens. Teachers while teaching children are more than often conducting their duties under heavily stressful commercial circumstances so that the task of teaching turns into a chore with no meanings attached.

Teachers impart education and are averse to learning from pupil they teach. (As a matter of fact children, yes young kids, are as good as we grownups are and in most cases better than us for their minds are clutter-free.) All this contributes slowly to the eventual demise of creativity. The fateful monotony of “sermons about life” delivered every other day by parents to children and the under evolved, stationery and lifeless state of our educational methods kills all that is “glittering” within children. The eventuality is that children grow up to be drab and “sorry”.

A pupil of Zen once told his master that he had heard that the world was coming to an end. The master told the pupil that no one knew what tomorrow would be like and that such “prophecies” were delegated by a sense of insecurity. While they were at the talk, the master and the pupil were sipping tea. On noting that the pupil’s cup was half empty, the master lifted the teapot and poured tea into the pupil’s cup. The master did not stop when the cup was full and as a result tea spilled out.

The pupil was astounded and somehow gathered courage and blurted out that the cup was already full and the rest of the tea being poured by the master was going waste. The master stopped at this and after breathing in spoke. He told the pupil that that was the case with him; his cup was full and it could not take any more.

“You must empty your cup if you want to learn and comprehend new things otherwise your knowledge will stay stagnated”, the master told the pupil. “Just because someone told you that the world was coming to an end you came to me and spilled the knowledge over to me. Had your cup been empty you would have absorbed the “prophecy” and reflected in a more thoughtful manner. You would come to understand that the whole universe is a mystery and we do not know what is taking place next”, he said.

This tale speaks about it all. When we are to teach our children, as parents or teachers, we should empty our cups and ready ourselves for a two-way exchange of knowledge. When we look at children after discarding our apriori apprehensions, bias and prejudice, we discover amazing things about them. We discover that children are born artists and each one of them has an undiscovered genius inside which yearns to be set free. But our mechanical concepts of knowledge and learning kill these little geniuses long before they are born.


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