One of our society’s unpleasant acts, which many are shamelessly proud of, is to label people for a certain trait, usually negative, which unfortunately becomes a permanent identity for many individuals for their lifetime.
While adults cope with such labeling by either ignoring or defending themselves, it’s the children who are worst impacted from labeling by adults or their peers. These innocent souls grow up as adults, with low self esteem, because of the label they got in childhood which got deeply ingrained in them. They believe in the labels and that is their identity.
I find it really very frustrating and annoying that even educated people have not understood this fundamental law of our Universe- that we are all meant to be unique.
From the planets in our solar system to animals, birds to countries and even various locations on Earth are unique – and so are humans.
If planet Jupiter takes much longer to orbit around the Sun compared to the Earth, there is a genuine reason. It doesn’t mean Jupiter is lazy or slow. Jupiter has a longer distance to cover, but it does eventually orbit the Sun and has been doing so ever since our Universe was created. Similarly, if a child takes longer to learn a subject, then that is how long it is meant to take. Children take their own time to learn, but they eventually learn.
The worst label one can give to a child is based on ‘learning abilities’. Labeling kids as ‘Brilliant’, ‘Good’, ‘Average’ based on the time taken to learn a subject or answer a question is ridiculous and wrong. These labels never made sense to me. This is an universal problem and nobody seems to understand the concept of learning very well.
There is no denying that education is the most important need in ones life apart from the basic necessities. Every individual, irrespective of his/her social status deserves education.
However, the educated and grown up people have yet not learnt the basics of a child behavior.
In recent years, many kids are misdiagnosed with disorders such as ADHD, Autism etc. and majority of these misdiagnosis is because of the teachers perception of poor behavior based on few interactions and behavior observed.
Just because a child is not keen on sitting in one place for more than 5 minutes, that does not mean the child has potential ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Even adults can’t sit in one place for more than 15 minutes – at least I can’t.
In most cases, the child would have received a lot of love at home from his parents, would feel out of place in an unfamiliar environment and will feel shy to speak up in presence of other kids.
Our education system has created clones. Students read books and write exactly what is written in the books by memorizing it without understanding the subject. So, why not just use a xerox machine and create a copy.
While education and learning no doubt is important, the approach to educate young kids may not be the right one and how humans are designed to learned must be understood by the authorities.
Humans are designed to ‘learn from observation’ and not sit in one place and read a book.
Prior to invention of text books and pens that are used in schools, people learnt about their surroundings, the sky, the moon, rivers, animal behaviors through observation. They went out in the open and watched everything in front of their eyes and any elder in the family would share their learning with the younger ones. This is how they learnt to build a boat, construct a home, farming, hunting for food etc.
People did not learn fishing by reading some instruction manual.
While it is understandable that complex subjects are best explained through text, the problem with young kids is their brain is not yet developed to read and understand text and answer a teachers question in the presence of other kids. The reality is that kids learn by observing other kids, but the pace at which they learn is not something that can be decided by an adult. This may vary from an individual to individual basis.
Parents or teachers expect all kids to behave like their favorite kid – usually the good looking one not understanding that they are all have a different upbringing. Kids are the most vulnerable in the early years. They will believe what their parents or teachers tell them and will act like how they are labelled.
Labeling a kid as slow to write some text which they do not understand in the first place does not define them. Their true potential is only discovered in their teen and adult stage. It is up to the kids to decide who they are. The destiny of these kids who were labeled as slow could be either the Olympics, Grammy or the Oscars – who knows ?
Not everyone who can read and write well has gone on to become a William Shakespeare anyway.
There are other labels based on color of skin, nationality, region they were born. We still have kids referred to as ‘British Asians’ or ‘Black Americans’. I never understood why the ethnicity matters at all for an innocent soul who is born equal to anyone else in the world.
Other than making kids feel ‘second class’, labeling kids based on color does not serve any purpose. Eventually, these kids grow up less confident, with a low self esteem than their peers. These kids believe that being an Asian or a Black is a flaw and they are meant to be slow in learning just because English is their second language – definitely not the case.
History is mandatory in most schools but people never learnt from history that those who made history were not mentioned in history books for their academic records, but for what they did and how they changed the world.
If you ask a teenager to spend time in an automobile factory, this teenager will surely learn the process of building a car in and out and become a better automobile engineer before any of his/her friends completes his graduation in automobile engineering.
The world has missed out on many super stars because they were labeled in the early years and hence we do not know their true potential.
One such kid, couple of decades ago, who was labeled as ‘slow’, ‘average’, ‘dumb’- who spent majority of his time outside the class during his school days because of too many spelling errors in his essays, grew up and worked hard in I.T. industry for clients in retail and telecom as project manager and delivered multi million pound projects. Later, he dared to quit his well paying corporate career in the UK to start his own venture and eventually wrote this post.
Labels are for jars in the kitchen – they are not meant for kids.
Our name, what we do for the world and how we treat people should be our only identity.