By Fatima Agarkar, Educationist & Founder - KA EduAssociates
21st century learning demands the development and nurturing of skills, attitudes and profiles that are beyond the textbook protocols and therefore schools committing to this 'holistic' education, need to attach enough and equal importance to fine arts, performing arts and field activities as well as social awareness. Quite frankly, it is time we action out a plan for each child after spending decades only speaking about customisation! The rationale is quite simple, children have their own unique talent and many of these lie beyond academics. A quick look around and jobs today are not as technical as they used to be, and perhaps the more non traditional career options are emerging as sustainable career choices. Case to point - the emergence of sporting leagues in India - Kabbadi, Cricket, Football, Badminton etc ... a decade ago, parents would have discouraged children from taking the sporting route and focus on academic success simply because there weren't enough sustainable career options in sports. The world has most definitely changed since then, and thankfully our children have more options today than ever before.
So questions are often asked of the role of a school in creating these champions that the country then celebrates when performances are world class milestones. Can schools nurture talent? Let's take sport as an example. Can we create the next generation Ronaldo, Federer, Bolt or closer to home, Virat Kohli?
For an educator, a passionate sports enthusiastic and a mother of a sporty child, it is perhaps, hope combined with strategy to make this happen. To be fair, nurturing talent requires a mindset that is open minded and acknowledges that it is as important a discipline as Math, Science. Once the 'sporty' vision is cemented, it is a matter of laying out processes and systems that afford children opportunities.
Long discussions with many who have represented the country, those you currently train talent in their academies and parents have concluded one thing for sure- it isn't the effort of one stake holder alone but combined forces that create champions. The school, however is an important cog in the wheel that allows families the safety net and support required. But for me, the school also presents unique opportunities to ignite that passion and exposure to children whose families may not have the resources to do so.
Having successfully forged these strategies in schools that i have managed, i do believe it requires a bit of planning, time-tabling adjustment within those 50 or 54 periods allocated each week, and deploying coaches that work on a well rounded sports curriculum and define individual lesson plans for those who are quick to receive this exposure and those that need a bit of motivation. Participation in events that allow for children to compete with others outside of their own school environments provides valuable learning opportunities and i have always believed practice matches should always be scheduled with teams that are more talented than your own ones to encourage children to raise their game. Schools allowing their infrastructure to be used before and after, will also attach a great deal of importance to the participation which acts as a huge motivator to children.
Those that are more skilful will need extended training and I am sure well meaning families will ensure that this happens post school hours but the foundation of this passion for sports will find its seed planted in schools.
So to answer the question - schools most definitely play a role. It isn't about creating champions alone, sports will help create a generation that is fitter, healthier and one that learns while playing!