Category Archives: School Principal’s Desk

Inclusive Education

Learning Knows No Bounds
“Fairness is not giving everyone the same thing,
Fairness is giving each person what they need to succeed”

These days we hear a lot about the term inclusive education. Suddenly these alien concepts are the norm in our country and everyone is talking about it.

However, believe me, it is a good thing and this topic needs all the attention it can get.
So let us begin with the classic explanation.

“Inclusive education happens when children with and without disabilities participate and learn together in the same classes. Research shows that when a child with disabilities attends classes alongside peers who do not have disabilities, good things happen”.

Roots of inclusive education can be traced back to the 1950s in USA & Canada where reputed universities experimented with integration of students with severe disabilities pioneered by inclusion teachers, who believe in participatory learning, cooperative learning, and inclusive classrooms.

In India, though we have been approaching inclusion since quite some time, we have a lot to achieve. The society has come a long way from fear, negligence, pity & sympathy towards empathy.

Our constitution provides for education as the fundamental right to all children, but until the recent Right to Education Act, introduced in 2012 schools were at liberty whether or not to grant admission to students with special needs.

Government can make laws and provide infrastructure, but it all depends on the other stakeholders (Schools, Parents, and Teachers) on how we perceive inclusive education & our willingness to take it forward. Reluctance also stems from the fact that inclusive education is a guaranteed high return long-term investment but with very high premium in the short term.

It is not only important to provide infrastructure like ramps, toilets, accessibility to laboratories, playground, etc but also to identify and support children with learning and mental disabilities. Lack of flexibility in curriculum, affordability, being bullied in the class and not getting adequate attention from the teachers are other contributing factors, which stall inclusive education.

We must all understand that “All children can learn” but “All children learn differently” & Special education is not inclusive education.

The Inclusive Education Clause in the RTE Act is an important step in the right direction. It also helps regular kids. When they attend classes that reflect the similarities and differences of people in the real world, they learn to appreciate diversity.

So let us all strive to improve the status of inclusive education within our respective spheres of influence. What begins with a sense of responsibility & compassion culminates in a feeling of pride when the children reciprocate with joy & passion that make our efforts pale in comparison.

Emotional Intelligence – Key to Success?

Intelligence is more than we thought it was. We already know from our own experiences in the world that it takes more than just being smart or having a high IQ to be successful. We had already seen many a times, that our brightest students have failed to experience success in life which we would have predicted using our traditional methods of evaluation.
Research tells us that IQ contributes to only 20% of the factors that determine success while the remaining 80% is referred to as “EQ” or Emotional Intelligence.

So what is this Emotional Intelligence and how can it be developed?

While IQ is the measurement of the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, EQ is the capacity to know and manage one’s emotions, to channelize emotions in service of goals. It’s empathy and being able to recognize emotions in others and to effectively handle relationships.

Because of their connection to behavior, emotions impact every area of life: health, learning, achievement, and relationships. Managing feelings well and recognizing and responding effectively to the feelings of others enables children to lead happy and productive lives and to master habits of mind that contribute to personal and career success. We all, parents and educators, must nurture emotional intelligence in the same caring way we nurture IQ.

Most people are simply unaware of the implications and impact of emotions on health, learning, behavior and relationships. The research is rich with examples, but the end result is that people with more highly developed emotional competence have better health, do better at learning, exhibit behavior that is contributing and pro-social, and are able to establish more meaningful, longer lasting relationships. With all this standing in its favor the development of EQ is as important as the consideration of IQ particularly when its contribution to academic performance and intellectual growth are so vital.

Failure is not Bad

Everybody wants their child to do well……no doubt about it.

This is probably an instinct that goes all the way back to the Stone Age. I can imagine how proud the cave parents must have been, when they saw junior return from the hunt with the biggest rabbit. After all, he is a chip off the old block…right. So proud.

Parents live for their children’s success. And nowadays instead of rabbits it is games & music. The more, the better. Cricket team, Soccer club, Piano classes, Dance academy, Martial arts training, Tennis coaching, the list is endless.

Playing out of state, playing with older kids, and doing exceptionally well at school all add to the bonus points.

I think its all great, but we seem to have forgotten that winning is just half the process in any game. Winning is so overrated these days, that we cannot comprehend failure of our child. As terrible as it sounds, it is true.

failure is not that bad

Failing has such a bad reputation that we do not want to talk about it. It is really easy to find out the result of any game after it is over, by looking at the parents who drive back home with their children. The silence in the car is so thick; you could cut it with a knife. The message is clear, though no words are spoken, all the equipment, coaching, long hours…..down the drain.

I cannot imagine what the child must be going though at this point.

We seem to believe if our kids always succeed, they will always succeed. I continually see parents who are willing to do anything to make sure their child doesn’t fail.

The truth is, if we want our children to be successful, they have to know how to fail and how to respond to failure. Everyone is going to get knocked down sooner or later. My fear is too many of today’s kids won’t know how to get up.

Failure will make them strong; give them the attitude to respect success and the will to fight back again.

So its O.K. to fail. One day they will thank their parents for this important lesson.