The parent generation, even the new-age parents come from a time where survival was dependent on being better than someone else is. No matter how strong we bonded with our classmates, secretly we were trying to beat them and outdo them in all aspects of school life. It seemed perfectly natural and acceptable. “Life is a competition, a race” is one of the earliest lessons we imbibed from our parents. It did not matter what our own potential was, as long as we did better than the few or most in our immediate circle.
This approach to life germinates from a hunger to survive and from a colonial education system that aimed to produce only obedient clerks with a closed mindset subservient enough to tread the mandated path generation after generation. Unfortunately, even post-independence, the snubbing of inquiring, thinking minds was rampant and the diktat was to blend in. The measure of success was being better than your classmate, neighbor, relative or colleague.
Thankfully, times have changed and the future holds many promises. The city dwellers’ children are born in the lap of comfort if not luxury. They crave for an environment where their curiosity is nurtured and encouraged and where their uniqueness is a sign of strength, not scorn. International schools are conceptualised and designed to cater to such minds.
One paradigm shift that the International curriculum like IB offers is a stress on collaboration rather than competition.
Capitalise on peer strength
The IB curriculum right from PYP, MYP to DP builds the ability to capitalise on peer strength rather than children feeling threatened by various skillsets of their peers. The focus is firmly on doing what one is best at. As a result, children begin to see the merit in taking the front stage when required and gracefully stepping back and letting their peer take the limelight when the situation demands. A leadership skill that many adults are struggling to develop even after being professionals for decades.
Be my best not the best
The future holds challenges that we cannot even envisage. Therefore working together instead of working against each other makes perfect sense. Being my best not the best is what the IB Learner profile and assessments inculcate in students from an early age. This enables the child to recognize his her own potential and take pride in it. The IB is not averse to producing the usual doctors and engineers but it goes far beyond it. Once children learn to collaborate instead of compete, a whole world of opportunities and untapped potential opens up for them. It breaks the barriers of herd mentality and when children do things happily rather than doing things to make others happy, they are bound to exceed all social standards of success. Indeed, are not some of the socially successful people the most miserable? Unfortunately, they lunged into a race and they kept running without knowing why and where they are heading, mindlessly competing to get ahead.
IB education insists on inculcating self-management skills in all students. This means that children have to be responsible for the choices they make, understand that they are in control of their own future and are prepared to deal with the consequences of their choices. Only when a child learns to manage herself or himself, can he be equipped to lead others.
Decision-makers outrage traditional Indian culture and education. This is because decision making naturally requires leadership skills like the clarity of thought and big-picture thinking. IB education enables students to make the right choices for themselves based on their capacity and strengths. More importantly, it equips them to question all received information/knowledge (ToK) and develop an enhanced perspective to arrive at solutions and possibilities.
The traditional education system aspires for comfort zones and familiar territory. Therefore the attraction to traditional professions. In this scenario, success is only possible for the few who can achieve merit in Board exams and seats in coveted institutions like IIT. The outcome is all that matters not the journey of learning.
Whereas IB teaches our students that summative/overall, success is possible after some learning and struggle at the formative stage. Being able to cope with disappointments, not dreading each setback as a permanent failure make children resilient to face unforeseen challenges. This kind of education naturally generates innovators, entrepreneurs and pioneers.
Compassionate citizens of the world
IB education embeds the value of compassion in all aspects of school life, be it the IB Learner Profile, Community action service (CAS) or simple classroom strategies like peer learning and differentiated teaching. It is not being successful for yourself but about how your success can make a meaningful difference in the world.
It is time we allow our children to fly rather than follow our path. It is time to step back and be facilitators for our children. It is the time we teach our children the way we learnt not the way we were taught.