Friday, April 20, 2007

Are You Smarter Than A First Grader?

From time to time,I volunteer to give small science talks to first graders at the school where my mother teaches. Its quite an experience and always gives me something to smile and laugh about. No matter how many times I tell them that their questions will be taken and answered once I am done talking, there's always a handful of them who'd raise their hands in the midde of it all, ever so eagerly,all wide-eyed."Yes?Do you have a question?",I say.A nod and an ahan later they get permission to ask the question only to be followed by an "ummm,I forgot". They are all really intelligent and inquisitve and ever so often they have questions that have me stumped. For example, the time when I talked to them about the skeleton. I had taken in a little plastic skeleton model to point out the different bones and just when I was almost done a little girl raised her hand and asked,"Aya,is that a boy or a girl?".Two years out of medical school and about five down from those anatomy lessons on differentiating male and female skeletons on the basis of which notch was deeper on what bone, I truly was at a loss.So,I told the little girl that I couldn't tell and that someone who was an expert at differetiating "girl and boy bones" would probably be able to answer that question...heh.The puzzled look on her face could very well be translated into a "But I thought you were a doctor!".
Another amusing exchange took place while I talked to them about the digestive system. I was telling them about food being absorbed by the intestine when I heard a kid sitting in the front row ask another, albeit in a loud whisper,"So, what happens to food our body doesn't want?". The answer,"What do you think poop is, silly?!".So, we eventually talked about poop amongst a lot of "ewwwww-s" and "yuk-s"(courtesy the girls in the class).Anyways,just when I thought it was over and done with, this one kid who I think is the smartest of the bunch shot up his hand and said,"I know another name for poop!". Expecting him to use the scientific term "feces" (this kid knows what arteries are and even the name of the smallest bone in the human body!) I gave him the go ahead and he said,"Its dung!"...heh.I wonder how many kids actually caught on to "dung" and used the word at home!
On a serious note though,my interaction with these kids often makes me wonder about education back home and how its different from what kids get here.There is need for improvement in a lot of quadrants but theres one thing that always stands out, at least in my eyes. Now, I draw upon my experience as a child growing up and it might be different now or so I hope. Its how there was never any encouragement to question what was being taught.It was there in the text or the notes and thats the way it was. In time, this practise,I believe totally sucks the life out of what should be an enjoyable and rewarding learning experience. It breeds unmotivated learners, blunts mental development and I'd go as far as saying that it has a bearing on moulding a child's personality. Private schools in Pakistan are probably implementing a change in startegy but what I'd love to see,some day, is for this to happen at all the government run local schools too.


Blogger Arfeen said...

yeah .. Dung is going to be a pretty funny word if the kids decide to use it at home.
I can almost imagine the look on the parents' faces when the kid would say something like this about their younger sibbling:
"Look mom, the baby has dung'ed in his/her diaper again!"


3:13 AM  
Anonymous rai said...

here they put so much emphasis on creativity which just wouldnt work in a pakistani school even if a private school tried to change since in the end everyone is going to get screened by the outdated education all our students are going to remain dummies compared to these be fair tho my first grade classmates knew a lot of words for poop lol

4:54 AM  
Blogger Aya said...

Arfeen: LOL!The would be quite interesting...I just hope none of them go home and tell their parents that I taught them that word!

rai:Creativity aside, just the fact that you think analytically about the "why" of it all is very important.I know what you mean by the outdated education board messing it all transition from O'levels to FSc was a terrible experience...those two years have to be the biggest waste of time.
Oh and you probably taught all your classmates alternative words for poop. :P

9:31 AM  
Blogger sozzy said...

When I taught first graders (ballet class and CCD class) they would raise their hands for a question and the question would turn out to be an exclamation instead, like "we went to McDonald's last night!" or "I'm wearing new shoes!" or "my dad had an operation for hemmorhoids!"

If I had to write an essay on why I love first graders it would be about their enthusiasm for everything and anything, especially poop.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Aya said...

sozzy: LOL! Thats hilarious and yep...thats exactly what they do.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol!thats funny and yep... thats what they do

2:00 PM  
Anonymous demonchild said...

lol thats what they do

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