Thursday, October 25, 2012

Do it yourself!


While I was going over some math problems with my six year old a couple of months ago, I realized that he hadn’t fully understood the concept of addition of two digits numbers, whereas his school notebook revealed otherwise. When quizzed, he coolly replied that the answers in his notebook were copied from his friend’s. There wasn’t even a slightest hint of guilt or remorse over the same! In fact, my son didn’t even realize that it was wrong to copy answers from his friend’s notebook as opposed to attempting to solve the math problems on his own! In his own words, his friend was merely ‘helping’ him out…. and after all it wasn’t a test but only a class exercise! Of course, I tried to make him understand the value of doing your own work and that ‘copying’ from others is simply not done. But I realized that kids do not necessarily comprehend the difference between right and wrong on their own and thus cannot always be blamed for confusing the ‘unacceptable’ with the ‘acceptable’. However, it is incumbent on us parents to help them understand this crucial difference. While there exists a thin line between ‘helping’ and ‘copying’ it doesn’t take too long for the line to disappear and turn into ‘cheating’ and when that happens, it is we parents who are to be blamed!

Well, Abhay did realize his mistake and claimed to have solved the next day’s questions on his own which I hope is due to the fact that he understood that it was wrong and not merely because “Amma will get angry”! :-) Anyway, I couldn’t have found a more similar story than this one in this week’s “Young World”, the children’s supplement of “The Hindu” and so I had to read it to Abhay. “Parathas and Potatoes” is a funny story by Gayathri Krishnan with an important message for all kids. Vishay’s mother was looking at his notebooks and noticed a different handwriting in his science notebook. When asked, Vishay had no qualms explaining to his mom that the handwriting belonged to his bench-mate Vicky who offered to complete his notes for Vishay as Vishay was slow in writing down his notes from the blackboard and couldn’t catch up with the teacher. When his mom advised him that it was not right to ask his classmate to slave for him when he was expected to read and write his notes all by himself, Vishay assured his mom that Vicky was no slave but was rewarded well with Vishay sharing his snack box with Vicky. Clearly, Vishay had missed the point! So Vishay’s mom hit upon an idea. The next day during lunch, Vishay was surprised to see a brand new lunch box with a note “Dear Vishay, this is a small gift to Vicky!” Vishay assumed that his mother too wanted to thank Vicky for helping him with the notes and gave Vicky the lunch box filled parathas and potatoes.  Looking back into his lunch bag, Vishay realized that his mother had forgot to pack his own lunch! Before he could even think of asking Vicky for some of his mom’s parathas, Vicky had polished them off! Vicky offered his own lunch box of curd rice and beans but Vishay was not interested. That evening when Vishay confronted his mom, his mom shot back saying “If Vicki can do work for you, surely you can eat his lunch for him everyday……!.” and that’s when Vishay realized what his mom  had meant! The next day, Vishay turned down Vicky’s offer of completing his notes and realized that he could write fast enough if he’d put his heart and soul into it! A great story to educate your little one about hard work and doing things on his own!

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