‘Bumps and bruises necessary for growth’


Trust our teachers: A good educator understands that the child he or she needs to mould should go on to become a leader. - 123rf.com

I WOULD sometimes visit a friend who owns an international school and we would talk about the future of this country and how we could mould it with the boys and girls of the school.

I have often preached that the fate of Malaysia lies not in politics or its politicians, but with its people and how they understand what should be the way to mould the country’s destiny.

In one of our discussions, my friend related his observations that children nowadays are not exposed to outdoor adventures like we were in our childhood.

Both of us exchanged boyhood stories of falling in drains, from trees and also during a hard game of football.

My friend then related how one parent had taken a photograph of his son’s mosquito bites and sent it to him with an enquiry as to how his son could have been attacked by hordes of mosquitoes.

I was shocked to hear of it. Although I am a parent who is concerned about my children’s safety, I know that incurring bruises and scars is as important as falling in love or dealing with heartbreak.

To both of us, these scars of the skins as well as the hearts are the rites of passage to adulthood.

After that talk, I drove home deep in thought about the issue of overprotective parents and dedicated teachers.

In the old days, parents trusted the teachers implicitly to take care of their children’s education and understood that children must build resilience through experience.

I had scraped my knees in and outside of school through games and roughhousing with my friends, and my policeman father never complained about negligence.

In educating our children, we must be cognisant of the three main aspects.

The first is the tools of the mind in processing information, the second is the tools of the heart in processing emotions and attitudes, and the third is what I would call resilience or “toughness”.

In the book entitled Roots, Alex Haley writes about the tradition of manhood training for boys in Africa where they are sent into the jungle to undergo many months of endurance to prepare them to become warriors and men of integrity for their tribe’s survival.

Upon completion of their training, they are treated as new men to guard their village and participate in the Elder Council as listeners and learners.

A good educator understands that the child he or she needs to mould should go on to become a leader and hope for our future.

However, turning spoilt brats with handphone fingers into wholesome individuals of integrity and strength requires more than just numbers, letters, formulas and essays.

It requires some experience of pain, humility, embarrassment and in some cases, even mosquito bites.

When you venture outside of the sanctity of concrete dwellings and empty cyberspace, reality can be painful and confusing yet full of possibilities and adventures.

Reality is the true “dungeons and dragons” of single player effort, courage, tenacity, ingenuity and inspiration, with the inevitable chances of encountering defeat, disappointment and failure.

Parents cannot shield 98% of what their children have to go through in the real dark corridors of life.

The school must prepare the future warriors with shields and swords to outsmart and overcome the dragons, serpents and monsters that come their way so that they can proceed to another level or stage of their lives.

Trust in teachers, therefore, is important. There is no perfect or safe formula that would guard the children from some experience of pain, humility and failure; experience is the only true teacher for a child’s future.

So the next time there are some mosquito bites or scrapes and bruises on your child, trust that the little warrior is slowly but surely becoming.

Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at the Tan Sri Omar Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Studies at UCSI University. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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