MAKE ME A CHILD AGAIN,
JUST FOR TONIGHT
The following extract from Elizabeth Akens Allen’s poem “Rock Me To sleep, mother”
Backward turn backward
O Time, in your flight
Make me a child again just for
Will definitely sound inexcusably sentimental and inaccurate to any modern mind. The conception that childhood is a happy and care free period of human life has long been discarded. Today childhood is considered as a difficult period of our life. So to make childhood endurable for the infants who have to live through it a host of institutions and associations like child guidance associations, child study clinics, child centered home and child psychologists have come up. And we the moderns, who have created the soap opera with our own kind of sentimentality and moral attitude, should not through stones at the late Victorians denouncing them as sentimental.
The quotation from Miss Allen’s poem may be sentimental but it presents a valuable suggestion about the learning process in children and it grownups. It clearly states that adults in evening classes would learn faster and more easily if they react as the children do. Of course it is not feasible in one’s part to become a child again. We can just pick up a few helpful hints by turning backward ourselves “just for tonight”, and nothing some of the differences between the way children learn and the way the adults learn.
Children learn faster than adults. They learn anything, starting from historical facts to techniques of pick-pocketing very swiftly and amazingly quickly like Oliver Twist. Of course a child is also quick in acquiring the habit of lying as a defense mechanism in an unhappy situation. Generally children thirstily drink in useful information of all kinds. Discovery of new wards, new ideas, new places on the map, African animals or the Museum of Natural History delight the first and second graders. The enthusiastic curiosity of children compels their teachers to be informed and efficient children provide their parents enormous pleasure by their sudden, unexpected grasp of things.
On the other hand the adults are very cautious learners. The grownups are more timid than youngster about asking questions. They fear that by asking question they will expose their ignorance and thus look ridiculed. In many more ways the grownups are handicapped as learners. The grownups have more responsibilities and more demands on their time than children. They cannot lightly shrug their responsibilities off. Again many adults have become prey to many bad habits, consciously or unconsciously. Some try to be ‘experts’ on every branch of knowledge. Some have unawarely acquired the habit of accepting whatever the ‘experts’ say. The greatest handicap of a grownup man as a student is that he has largely got out of the habit of listening. The grownups do not know how to use their teachers. The fail to extract answers from the teacher as they feel shy in asking questions. The grownups cannot use their teachers as the bounce board of skeptical learning.
Of course grownups have a unique possession which the children cannot have. It is experience. Both for the teachers and students, experience is a priceless commodity in the classroom teaching. But experience is not enough to acquire knowledge. Attitude is equally important. To capitalize fully in the classroom on their life experience, the grownups need the enthusiasm and unself-consciousness of the child can a grownup man recaptures some of the spontaneity of a six or seven years old child?
The essayist thinks that it is not an impossible task for the grownups to recapture the motivation of child in learning. Children are thirst after knowledge. They are compelled to learn and to grow. And the major part of the growth is related to the growth of mind. Children posses an open mind. They want to communicate and to be communicated. Children try to understand everything and to be understood by everyone. Children have a built in motivation. The entire society joins hands to allow and support a child to learn as this instinct prompts. Almost all parents take pride in the expanding knowledge of the child.
An adult student pursues his study in an evening class in a different circumstance. In his case purpose does not operate in such an automatic and instinctive fashion. Adult student never gets complete approval and sanction of the society for his study. Children cannot afford not to know. They cannot avoid knowing. But an adult can afford for to be ignorant. An adult student can find a reason to avoid trying to understand anything difficult. An adult has a little time for his study and he knows how difficult it is to win mastery over any subject.
It is very difficult for an adult student to gather approval of the society for pursuing study in the after school period of life. If his purpose is obvious then he easily gets social approval. If he is not good at pronouncing English and attends an evening college to a acquire fluency in English or if he needs a more education to get into a better paying job then none will dissuade him from attending evening colleges. But if he has no such visible purpose which will pay him immediately in terms of higher income or higher social prestige then none will approve his attending colleges. In that case one has to depend him for attending evening classes.
Thousands of us want to acquire more knowledge on literature, music art. We are enthusiastic to make us adepts in communication information and technical skill. Our curiosity about physiology and chemistry also prompt us to pursue a course in those subjects. Whatever an adult may choose to study, if we says wishes to learn as effectively as a child learn, he should have to restore the purposiveness, drive and motive of his childhood days. He will find his subject enjoyable and fruitful if he approaches it as a first and second graded approach the birth of rabbits or why r-o-u-g-h is not pronounced in the same way as b-o-u-g-h. everyone of us in the classroom, outside it, quizzing a teacher or reading a book can be an active learner as we were when we were six or seven years old. There is a child in each of us. What we need is the courage to acknowledge it.