Sunday, September 3, 2017


 Every child is Unique and needs unique way of teaching / educating.

The general review of the present conditions of young generation will reveal that younger kids are capable to grasp a lot more information than any previous generation. This young generation seems comparatively more aware of own self, free of inferiority complex and know about their desires and ambitions. They are also eager to learn and try new things in life. But simultaneously, largely they seem to chase materialistic pleasures and are no fan of discipline. They are also self-centered and ignorant of value based lifestyle. 

Though we do not like to generalize, the above conclusion, it is derived from the contacts made with several youngsters in schools and colleges through various field activities of Manashakti Research Centre. However, there is no point in denying the fact that today we see different kind of generation-gap which is widening faster. Of course, problems in rural, urban and metropolitan areas are different and they do vary as per the economic class. Nevertheless we find growing tensions at student and parent’s level everywhere. Thus it appears necessary that individuals, institutions, organizations and strategy makers should review problems and the root causes objectively to find appropriate solutions. We shall try to analyze in this context. 


Mind and Life Institute Conference, October 2009 at Washington USA had detailed deliberation on this subject.

How can our educational system evolve to meet the challenges of the 21st century? How will we educate people to be compassionate, competent, ethical, and engaged citizens in an increasingly complex and interconnected world? The urgent challenges of a globalized and interdependent world demand a new vision of world citizenship that is not confined to national boundaries, but encompasses moral and ethical responsibilities to all humanity. People coming of age in the 21st century will need to develop unprecedented levels of intercultural cooperation, mutual moral concern, creativity, and skill in effectively addressing the challenges of the world today—challenges economic, ecological, and inter-cultural/religious in nature. An education that will prepare young people to become competent and compassionate world citizens in such a context. It cannot be measured only in terms of cognitive skills and knowledge, but must address wider aspects of the heart, including skills and qualities of awareness associated with conscious self-regulation, ethical and social responsibility, and empathy and compassion for others. The time has come to usher in a holistic view of education that empowers children and builds resiliency, hope and confidence.

Neuroplasticity allows us to take responsibility for our own behavior by reshaping our brain at the level of synaptic connections. Teachers and education policymakers gave infuriating examples of how the current school system fails and inspiring examples of brilliant solutions when you connect students to their inner worlds and to each other, and when students and teachers join efforts in radically new ways, sometimes even formalizing respect for community and values by collaboratively penning their own classroom constitution at the beginning of the school year.

The Western educational paradigm focuses on technical skills to mold students into good worker bees. Teachers expressed frustration at being told to teach to the questions on standardized tests. Shame on us for treating students as if their worth arises from how favorably they contribute to the mean and standard deviation of their school district’s scores! We can do so much better! Kids deserve so much better! This one-dimensional, test-score-driven approach has, to this point, largely ignored the importance of cultivating students’ emotional development and regulation, but these two types of education need not be independent. Research clearly shows that children who are more skillful in regulating their emotions score higher on memorization and reasoning exams. Students who are given the tools to more effectively manage their inner lives seem to learn more deeply. Children who are encouraged to care move beyond themselves to care about the collective and not just ‘me’ and ‘mine.’

H.H. Dalai Lama has made secular education, as distinguished from religious education, a priority as the scientific evidence of the consequences of a chaotic interior life are known. And universities such as Harvard and Stanford have heard the call. (REF -

With the initiative of “Mind and Life Institute” at the end of the first decade of 21st century, the topic of Character development has been taken up by leading experts in the field. This is indeed a good news. But the emphasis seems only at “school level”. As seen below the learning process doesn’t start after the child is admitted to school, but right from prenatal stage, rather from pre-conception stage. The role of homes (parents), and other stake holders is also critical.

There are millions of children in the world who do not afford good school admission, rather any school admission. If planning at global level is to be considered, then more comprehensive approach appears necessary. Way back in 1960s, Swamy Vijnananand, the founder of Manashakti Prayog Kendra in India, thought on these lines and evolved rational, secular, all affordable approach.

We have to first understand and agree to the fact that each child is unique. Let us see some references on this.

Uniqueness of individual (child) 

(REF   August 18, 2014
“Every student is unique in his or her strengths and challenges, and it is the job of the teacher to foster highly individualized learning in response to the student. Not the other way around.” – Ellen Brandenberger, USA.

I think the most important thing to remember is that high need in a child necessitates both high expectations and highly individualized support from teachers and school community members. While this is easier said than done, and can often feel like an uphill battle, each child deserves a quality education, but needs very different things to get there, whether it be a hot lunch, a literacy coach, a math tutor, or otherwise. 



As parents, we are constantly comparing our children to others. Whilst this can be a source of great pride, it can also become a source of worry that something is wrong with our child or that we are doing something wrong as parents. Every child is different. Children develop differently, have different personalities, possess different strengths and require different kinds of support to meet their individual needs. All children develop at their own pace and in their own way. 

Children grow and develop at different rates. While their developmental pathways may differ, most pass a set of predictable milestones along the way. It is normal for children to experience developmental spurts and slow spots in different areas of their development over time. If your child is a little ahead or a little behind at a certain age - this is normal. Most of the time, given the right nurturing and stimulation, all children will catch up in the end.
All children have different strengths and vulnerabilities. Some are good at sport, others music. Some are very academic and others not. Some are highly anxious and others are more relaxed. Some children are good sleepers and others wake through the night for years.
The task of parenting is a constantly changing one as the growing needs and abilities of our children change over time. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ way to parent. What works for one child may not work for another. What worked when children were two years old may not work when they are four years. Adaptability and flexibility are key ingredients to parenting. It is normal to lack confidence in your parenting at some time. 

The uniqueness of each child

(Information based on the Philippines' Multigrade Teacher's Handbook)
Every child is an individual, with special social, emotional, intellectual, and physical qualities.
Children are unique. They are individuals and no two children are alike: physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually, each child is a unique individual. Because children are unique, even if there are common needs and characteristics that children of a particular age or stage of development share, they must be understood by their parents and teachers in their uniqueness, and their individuality must be respected.
For example, even in a single-grade classroom composed of 45 to 50 seven-year-olds, not all of the seven-year-olds will be reading at precisely the same ability level. They will also differ in the ways they are able to understand and solve word problems in mathematics. They will have different personalities—some will be shy, some will be confident, some outgoing, some quiet but competent. They will each have their own life experiences and feelings about themselves. They will have different likes and dislikes, interests and needs.
However, this does not mean that a teacher has to prepare 45 or 50 different lesson plans whether it is a single-grade or a multi grade classroom. Instead the teacher must be able to get to know and understand each of the children and prepare teaching/learning activities that will respond to and reflect these individual needs of children. As children work individually or independently, in small-groups or as a whole group, they will each benefit in their own way from these activities. What is most important is that the teacher, who is primarily responsible for planning the daily activities through which the children will learn, should know every child and keep track of how well each child is able to learn.

Role of parents in nurture is important as the role of a teacher.

As stated by one of the speakers in the Washington 2009 seminar organized by Mind and Life Institute,  in mass-accident,(like train accident where lot of people suffer different types of injuries and damages of different organs), each patient needs specific, special treatment which can be given by different specialist doctors… 
In the class room in a similar manner, the need and requirement of each child is different, requiring different special skills. But this  has to be attended by single or two academician teachers. The job is complex, beyond the reach of a teacher. This nor simple, not practical. Rarely some teacher would be able to meet such expectation. What to do? Can we depend entirely on teachers for child’s complete personality development? 
Let us start from the purpose of educating a child in its basic details.

Objective of Education

In dictionary ‘learning’ is defined as a modification of behavior through experiences. Function of learning is in accepting the experience one gets in life and accordingly making (appropriate) changes in own behavior.  Experience means learning as per situation. Thus objective of education is understanding overall meaning of these experiences to make right changes in own behavior. 

In a way, child who is getting an experience and factors responsible for giving child the experience are important in the learning process. For better education child must remain in a condition where he gets good experience. We must try to provide him favorable or at least, less adverse environment from the beginning of learning process. 

When Does Learning Begin?

If you want to make a perfect pot then you must use proper clay and water as a raw material. Insist on using good quality clay. Should use water proportionately to knead clay. Then only you will be able to produce perfect pot. The same principle applies to human intelligence and his internal-external personality that develops through this intelligence. The physical and emotional inputs in the child should be properly blended at appropriate time to cast a good character of the future adult.

Around 7 billion people reside in this world but we won’t find two people having exact same skin color, appearance, likes and dislikes, character, etc. This is the uniqueness only nature can create.  The human efforts can endeavor to shape the nature by proper care of nurture.

How Does Human Personality Develop? Which Things Do Affect It?

Every parent obviously wishes for best personality development for his child. This can make himself/herself happy in life. To fulfill this aspiration child must be given proper education as early as possible. When should we start this education? When does child begin learning? We must find answers for these basic questions. 

Learning from Prenatal Stage

The entry of child in this world is the moment of his birth. But before birth; child exists in his mother’s womb for about nine months. Does the child learn during this pre-birth existence? Manashakti Research Centre’s founder Swami Vijnananand undertook study, experiments and research on this topic since 1960. Based on the work of many scientists, researchers in world, it is now proven that acquiring knowledge, sensitivity and process of changing behavior by gaining experience continues in child even in the prenatal stage. Development of brain, sense organs and other life processes are on during the pre-birth stage. Favorable condition should prevail in prenatal stage to provide child with proper nurture (emotional imprints) and education. We have to put in intentional and pre-planned efforts for this. 
Detailed study courses and mind-body machine tests giving guidance to the parents on this topic are available in Manashakti Research Centre. We shall see the details later. 

Stages in Post Birth Development

Life develops step by step by various ways and means since moment of birth to the stage of adulthood and even after that. Physical, psychological and intellectual development, emergence of varied consciousness regarding different aspects of life takes place during this period. Every person has his own natural personality. But this personality transforms as per environment and the perception of experiences gained. Thus every person gets independent and unique features, shape and existence. This whole process is now studied under the branch of science, called ‘epigenetics’. Generally it was believed earlier that development of personality takes place mainly till youth, but recent research on brain functioning claims that this process continues during entire life till the moment of death. 

We can broadly consider three major stages in the post-birth child development process till attainment of age twenty one.

Stages of Development

First seven years after birth
Eight years to fourteen years of age
Fifteen years to twenty one years of age

The development takes place on psychological/intellectual levels as follows – Emotional development takes place in first stage. In second stage, mainly thinking or analytical capabilities are developed. In addition to these two things, setting goals, aspirations and ambitions, academic education, physical health and diverse aspects of entire personality take shape in the third stage.  

For the correct formation of personality on each stage, it is necessary to put in specific efforts based on the needs of the stage prevailing. If we keep this aspect in mind and evolve an appropriate strategy of education/nurture, we can achieve the results and develop the up-coming generations to successfully face the challenges of the changing world. 
This necessity which is based on mind-brain relation, is described in a beautiful aphorism in Indian traditional education system. 

लालयेत पंचवर्षाणि, दशवर्षाणि ताडयेत |
प्राप्ते तु षोडशे वर्षे, पुत्रे मित्र मिवाचरेत ||

(Parents or elders should nurture the child only with love, affection even pamper it till first five years of age. Later till the child becomes around ten years old it should be spanked and provided role model, exemplary behavior and appropriate environment to inculcate proper behavioral discipline. When the child turns around sixteen years (attains mature age), then he/she should be treated like a friend. They must feel like grown-up and their opinion matters. They need to exert on their own for the progress and necessary support should be made available from elders, if felt needed.

To ensure this process happen properly, responsibility distribution can be as follows:

Stage                                         Primary Responsibility

Prenatal stage                                  Mother, father
Till seven years                        Mother, father, teacher 
Eight to fourteen years                Teacher (main responsibility), mother, father (only guidance) 
Fifteen to twenty one years        Teacher, mother/father (limited to suggestions and advice only                                                                when desired,). Maintain friendly relations 

How Does Learning Take Place?

Having seen the stages of learning and the responsibility attributable to the nurturing elders, let us see how the process of learning normally takes place. 

Child acquires knowledge (ज्ञान) using sense organs (ज्ञानेंद्रिये). Through exposure to the outer world the learning takes place. These sense organs absorb entire knowledge available mainly during awake time of the day. That is to say the process of the knowledge assimilation takes place through seeing, hearing, touch, taste and smell. The experience creates stimulations in the child based on individual perception and as a result imprints in the memory system generate changes in behavior of a person later, in due course of time. This is in nutshell; the process of learning and shaping the personal traits or behavior. We must note that learning does not take place only in school but also in home and other places as well. Let’s estimate the extent each sensory organ participates in this process.

Sensory Organ                                                         Estimated Participation in Learning process 
Eyes                                                                            80% (seeing)
Ears                                                                            10% (listening)
Other sensory organ (skin, tongue and nose)                     10% (touch, taste and smell)
Total                                                                             100%

It means seeing and listening play major role and is very important for proper education and learning. 

Where Does  Learning Take Place?

Learning process continues throughout the day in waking hours. (Sleep period also can be used to certain extent for learning, but that aspect needs separate deliberation and is excluded in our discussion). So we must consider how time of day is spent. General classification of the time spent in a day by a student is considered as follows:

SI. No.            Place / Location                                                          Time of The Day (%)
1                    Home                                                                                             16 %
2                    School                                                                                              16 %
3                   Friends/Neighbours/other places in society                                      16 %
4                    Mixed (out of above three)                                                               12 %
5                  Sleep / rest                                                                                       40 %
                 Total                                                                                              100 %
We can see that students learn in school (mainly from teachers), at home (mainly from parents) and in society (from friends, neighbors, etc.) in almost equal proportion. Every concerned party should be aware and understand the necessity of efforts on every level to create proper imprints on the highly sensitive mind of the growing kid in his/her earlier years of life.  

Summary: Learning/nurturing process should be made available to the child since prenatal stage till the stage of attaining adulthood. We briefly reviewed the outline of this process in certain details. Everybody concerned bears the responsibility to create proper environment and avoid improper things. A child must get training/guidance not only for success in academic examination, but also for sound health and in shaping modest and responsible behavior/character. This will pave the way for success in the future, happy life. And the responsibility rests not only with school but also with home, media, policy makers and society at large. We shall see more on this in articles to follow.

Vijay R. Joshi.

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