Edris Khamissa – Educating Children in the 21st Century – Episode 1

Edris Khamissa
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It is common for people to talk about the past. This is more so in teaching than in any other career. No one will disagree. And the sad reality though is that except in isolated cases, the content and methodology has not changed. Here is Rhys camisa, a renowned educationist shares his insight on this important subject. Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything, one length at school, it is actually a miracle that curiosity survives formal education, Albert Einstein, everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish, by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid, Albert Einstein

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education in the 21st century.

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Now my first question to you is, what was the reason for choosing this topic for your set of CDs?

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You know, shamima, I've traveled to many parts of the world. And I find really what we have in our schools today is a crisis.

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The crisis because there are many educators or teachers who have forgotten what the purpose of schooling is, you find children at schools are thoroughly bored, they find the lessons irrelevant, very, very theoretical. And also, you find that in our schools, they do not understand the experiential world of children. And very, very importantly, the landscape has changed radically. So what you need to understand is this, we got to remind ourselves, why are we teaching? What kind of curriculum Do we have at school? Is it antiquated? Is it realistic? Does it in essence, unleash the potential for children, so that our loved ones when they leave school, can play a meaningful part in

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society? They can believe in themselves. And what has really happened today is because of the league tables and over assessments, and even in South Africa, we have a problem, because many schools, if you look at the vision and mission, it is so noble, so ennobling. And but when you look at it, what are they focusing on, on the narrow confines of cognitive development, and therefore, they are judged purely purely by the metric results? Okay, I agree with you that, you know, the focus is on the academics. But in every country,

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your education system is bound by what the country is asking you to do. So if you take South Africa, for example, we are bound by the curriculum, we have to teach that in that week, and we have to teach,

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introduced, and in a particular week, so if you're saying that, we've got to do a lot more, how do we incorporate it? I think, stop teaching academics. Are you telling us something different? What I'm saying is this. I'm not demeaning that aspect. But if that becomes your sole focus, because no way does He say, academic success is a precursor for real success. And you find it really, it looks at the one side of the brain. That's fundamental. What is even more important is this. That, I believe, and I'm sure, and I'm sure you believe some MRIs and education yourself. And you ask those people who have done investigations who have an intimate understanding of education, they'll tell

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you, when a school provides holistic education provides a complete education. Even the students will do better academically, you know, why is no more they are passive receptacles. They no more being force fed, they know more. For example, you are a individual, and you listen to me, there is no relationship except I'm a teacher, you're a student, you keep quiet, you be passive. And in that way, you're not expected only to regurgitate what we have told you. You also have an opinion, can I want to expand on the holistic education that you just spoke about? Now? I'm a teacher in a school, and perhaps the seasoned teacher, perhaps a young teacher. In either case, the scenario is actually

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the same. I've got to get into the classroom, because my management says to me, I've got to have classes

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Management, which means you have to have a well disciplined classroom, when my principal, or my senior walks around the school, I can't have children walking around a kind of children lying down on the floor, I can't have children doing five different activities. So the first step, in my opinion, would be changing the mindset of your head teachers. If you change their mindset, they get to understand that holistic education means the following. And you're just not going to explain to me exactly what it means. But I, as an educator, then can get empowered because there's lots I would like to do as a teacher, and somebody else who's listening is going to say, hey, I've got these

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brilliant ideas. But in my classroom, if I want to do I want to teach them an English lesson, but I want them to enact it for me, and I want them to have prepared it at home, some spending the rest of the week with children coming to school, in their service. How well children receive it, because they now know that they special, they know that they're doing something exciting for that week, they're going to be super excited to come to school. So help me help the teachers by explaining what you mean by holistic education. You see, that's a point. Let's look at you, you raised a few pertinent issues. The one issue that you raised the issue of the head teacher and we'll talk about

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the attributes of dynamic headteachers, we'll talk about that, we'll I will share with you nine or 10 attributes, I believe, all head teachers should possess. And we'll also talk about a little later about the attributes of dynamic teachers, for example. Now, what you got to be in mind is this, if you look at the traditional classroom, we not speaking but anarchy or chaos, right? If you there are people who are naive, can walk into a school, I remember I was in one such school. And also remember, when inspectors used to come to the school, when they should visit the schools. What did they say? They say, What a lovely school, because even on the last day of school, they silence Yes,

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the silence, but they don't realize there is oppression, the kids are regimented. The teachers are in fear, right fear because you have a dictatorial head teacher, the students are in fear because of the teacher himself. And as a result, they ecent for example, discussions, animation, and kids do not share the opinion because this is a fundamental thing. And something I'm gonna say now, right? If you do not allow children to determine the curriculum, the curriculum is also going to determine them. Now, when you speak about this, then you are I'm asking you, what kind of teacher is this? Does he not have creativity? Does he not understand what is education because what he is doing, and

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perhaps we'll talk about it, after I look at the definition of holistic education, because what he is doing his schooling rather than educating.

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Okay, so, in a nutshell, give me a definition of holistic education. Now, holistic education is an education that responds to all aspects of the human being, he responds to the cognitive, he responds to the affective, he responds, you know, even to the spiritual, he responds to the mortal, he responds to the physical,

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you understand? So he responds to all aspects of that human being, so that when this individual, for example, leaves the school, he's a holistic human being, and he's able to integrate into society in a very, very meaningful way. And therefore, you find that those schools who go beyond the cognitive beyond the academic who offer other programs where they develop, for example, the emotional side, they develop, for example, the physical side, where they, for example, speak to them about good eating habits. They discuss also the morality, their spirituality, not pontificating, and giving them a lecture, but in essence, you know, having dynamic programs and making it a focal point of the

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discussion and what you'll find, you'll find a classroom that is animated, that is stimulating, and not in a classroom, where it becomes so predictable, that the teacher is tedious and boring. You spoke about exploring the emotional side, the moral side, the spiritual, physical, I'm just screening a few of the words you've used and

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Give me an example of how we can

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explore the emotional side of the young mind. Show me my you asked me that question, because I read this. And for me, it was so compelling, it was really illuminating. When they said, EQ is worth twice the IQ. Now, emotional quotient is a fundamental thing. Now, when you look at emotional quotient, or emotional intelligence, just for the purposes of making it as simple as possible, emotional intelligence, in essence, and I'll talk to your practical ways how we can develop that is about being smart about your emotions, is, for example, that when you are speaking to me, I listen to you with empathy.

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Then, as I'm speaking to you, I also understand my own emotions through self regulation, I understand a social context in which I belong, because what is fundamental, what we do not want is individuals in schools, who are so good academically, they're so powerful, their IQ is so great, yet they cannot fit into society. So then in the classroom situation, how do we do that? We have it to collaboration, we have it through, perhaps bring some common things together, working in groups, you know what I'm saying to you? In that way, you will understand you because you begin to become more self aware. You say, Oh, my gosh, Idris. I think I must watch my tone. Oh, look at it, I noticed

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Fatima. Or Polina is getting a bit upset. Or she's, you know, what I'm saying to you, because the long and short of it all, and we need to explore this further. I know you're raring to ask me another question. I want to just go on with the EQ and IQ that you're talking about. Because I know in schools, we do the group work. And by and large, you speak to any any educator, they're going to say to you, yes, we've seen the benefits, because they really are the benefits, the collaboration, the understanding each other, being empathetic towards each other. And then there's something else we've seen is that the child understood the concept immediately, was then able to help the one who

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didn't understand. And as a teacher have asked them to use words like,

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you know, I've got to speak politely. I can't say that, Oh, you're so stupid. You didn't understand the innuendo in that particular passage. But if I say to them, Look, that person didn't understand. Can you now explain it to them? And I've heard words like, Come let me explain it to me. No, no, no, you, you know what you're missing the point. The point is this, this is what the teacher was trying to say. Because we can teach that to an eight year and a nine year old. Imagine when they in the workplace, and they have to interact with a colleague,

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the interaction would be at a different level, because I've also seen where IQ is so high, and we've forgotten interaction skills. So yes, I'm agreeing with you about that. But

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the academia are gonna say to you won't,

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involving myself so much in all of this character education, the moral education won't detract from me getting excellent academic results. Okay, there are two points in I'm glad you shared your own practical examples in your own observation. Because remember this, this is a fundamental thing, that when children are able to relate to each other, in fact, they say even a high EQ, EQ is the most effective antidote to marital issues. So, and they say the most dynamic leaders today are those that have a high EQ. Now, the whole thing in terms of the track, in fact, what it does, it contributes to a person's academic performance, you know, why? Because nowadays, self affirmation. Now you find

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that the child is not afraid for the self expression. They are colleagues around them to support them. They learn about compassion. They learn to listen with sympathy. They also learn, for example, to commiserate and to support each other, they begin to have self belief. And what happens is this, they take ownership of their own life. They through holistic education, say, Yes, I can do it. I have a responsibility. I need to manage my time effectively. In fact, studies have shown in fact, studies have shown that those schools that offer character education

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They found an upward mobility as it were, of those students who did not do too well academically, now have done far better academically. Okay, if you can then give me a practical example, on how to incorporate this in, in a school, you know, I'm taking, for example, a particular school who has excellent academic results. They are leaders in the schooling, fraternity, school, ABC, and

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they now have realized that there is the one pack that are not functioning academically, and they seeing the social emotional issues. We think bullying at school, we think discipline issues. So there are schools that are going to say, Hey, I think this idea is great. Give me one practical example, on how to improve on the emotional aspect of the kids, you know, what needs to be done on a very practical level? The one is, the one is the teacher himself, the teacher, they educate himself, he must start to have conversations with these kids, can I just stop you there for a minute, I'm agreeing with you again. But just tell me, I'm a teacher listening to you tell me what to do in the

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morning. I'm a teacher listening, I'm going to say, you know what it is, I don't have the time. I've got to get to class, I got to teach them about the planets. Tell me how to incorporate this give me practical example, on what to do. Perhaps early in the morning. One of the critical aspect is, for example, for a teacher walks into school, he must be expressive about his emotions, he must say, tell the students you know, I missed you, I was thinking about how are you doing, really want to know about them. So they are happy to express their feelings freely, without under a non judgmental way. It's a wonderful start. And the child may put their hand up said, you know, last night, I

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didn't feel you know what I'm saying to you. So you saying when the child puts their hand up to tell you you know, last night we did x y, Zed, you know, we spent went out for dinner, you supposed to listen to that, you must listen to that. That's part of your only to in fact, you know, shamima, one of the surprising things, there are many educators who have a low EQ, they themselves need to develop that aspect that dimension number one, the other critical aspect is this, that you have, as I said earlier on, you have projects, we allow kids themselves to work as teams, you allow them for example, you know what I'm saying to you. So in other words, those days of talk and chalk are over,

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you need to relook at your methodology in what you find. And something else that perhaps we'll speak about, we must is fundamental, a fundamental pillar of education, the 21st century is looking at the whole aspect of creativity, how, and therefore, some educator might say, but I have constraints of time. But creativity is born precisely because we don't have the time. So EQ is something very, very important. For example, even when you're asking questions about saying English, there was a time you would ask this question, for example, discuss the character of so and so person, fine, then you could also ask the character, what are your feelings towards this character? What would you have

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done differently? What is it that you love about this character? So in other words, it becomes personalized, it is engaging, you understand? They're participating vicariously through the lives of these characters. So you're saying to me in my English lesson, I was able to incorporate the character development. I'm just going to give you an example of an English lesson where there was a newspaper article that was being discussed in a classroom about dolphins being killed. And one of the questions that the teacher then asked the pupils was that, how do you feel about it about dolphins? Do you love dolphins? And they all put up their hand and they said yes to the wall, not

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animated, because it became personal. The entire lesson became personal. How many of you have interacted with dolphins? Some put up their hand and they said, Yes, I've swam with the dolphin, or some said, No, I've watched on television. And some said, Well, I read a story about a dolphin. And then the teacher said, Well, how do you now feel about this article that dolphins have been killed? And they said they unhappy they disgusted with it? And then the article went on to talk about protests that people would think, do you think it was a good thing to protest? So they're, the children are now doing an English lesson? They learning how to respond to comprehension passage on

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the questions of the who, why, what way, you know, old questions, but it's also developing them emotionally to think about other people think about other creatures. And to me, that was amazing. So why I gave you that example is that

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I want somebody listening to say, okay, it's doable. I can do it in my English lesson, I can do it in my math lesson. That's the point. You see, the point is,

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as I said earlier on, children do not want something that is theoretical, something that is real, something that is meaningful, and they can participate is part of the experiential world. Because what you want look at look at the world around you, what do you find? Look at it, there are crisis everywhere, you find there are some nations that respond, for example, to the refugees with affection, love others, they have antipathy towards them, right? And you got to ask yourself, why is this? And I believe, really, the education system has contributed largely to this, when you become so fiercely narrowly patriotic than everyone outside your country. Aliens, for example, right? Now,

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in the end, what do we all want? The purpose, one of the over arching purposes of education must be so that we can contribute to humanity at large. And it is said, Man has learned to fly like a bird in the sky, swim like a fish in the sea, but he cannot walk like a human being on this earth. So in the end, we want education in a very brief, simplistic way to unleash the humanity in each individual, from what you said. And what I'm saying is precisely this is what we want to do. So you cannot for example, now a good teacher realizes that in effective classroom is when they have a spice of life in the classroom, when the classroom is vibrant, is excited, you understand. So people

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say, Hey, I can relate to this. I understand this, because in the end is about your dynamics and relationships, you know, you begin to look at yourself, you introspect, and you say, my gosh, I can do some things differently. Oh, whoa, he reminds me of myself. It reminds me when I'm sad, sometimes I respond. I recoil as it were. So this is a fundamental thing. And I don't think any person, any educator, any person, sociologists, a priest, or anyone for that matter, would ever, ever disagree with this. And I remember when I first came across the statement, EQ is what twice IQ. I said, Whoa, what have I been doing all these years? I think with EQ being twice IQ, developing the EQ then

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doubles, the editor quadruples, the IQ. Absolutely, absolutely. The maths teacher told me I can see that I see that and you're seeing it with some of you gloating. You also. Right, right. But Jemima, what you're saying that's true. And you know, it is not, for example, each one of these things contribute to the other as it were. And and you know, that's so true. Because Yeah, again, I'm talking from experience. And if you take Maslow's theory into account where a child's basic need must first be met, for him to function at an academic and intellectual level, so his basic need of food and clothing is not met. He's not interested in what you're talking about in life sciences and

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physical sciences, or teaching him about quadratic equations and the such like, so if we can focus on the EQ and getting the child to be happy, getting the child to be able to talk to you, the IQ would then develop. But we also need an environment where the children's EQ is being damaged through social emotional issues, be it financial, be it disharmony in the home, be single parent homes, be it the violence in certain communities where there's been loss of family member, how do we get

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the kids to deal with this kind of thing, then the family is not being able to deal with it. And then me as a teacher having to deal with these scenarios in the classroom. There are two things I want to share with you now. One is there is a poem by Stephen spender called elementary classroom in Islam. And when he says, am I trying to teach kids some abstract concepts, but many of them come from, they have hungry stomachs, they've got issues at home. And then he realized that teaching those abstract concepts to those kids at that time was irrelevant. What was far more relevant to respond to the particular need. It also reminds me of a teacher. And this was to me one of the most

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compelling things I ever ever came across. When he was asked this question, you are going to the new school, what are you going to teach? And you know what he said? He says, Well, you know what, I have not met my learners yet. Can you believe it? Most of us would have said mathematics, English history, social science, what our physical science but he realized

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He realized that, in essence, that if my teaching does not respond to the needs of my children, then I have wasted my time. Right? And we need to understand what are the needs of children? What do they really want? So this is a fundamental thing. And you know what? Many people, many individuals for that matter, when they look back, they will retired. And when I'm asked your question Mima, I want you to think about your favorite teacher, who was the teacher? And the reason I'm asking the question, and I want those that are listening to this, to also answer the question, Who was your favorite teacher? And I'm gonna say this, at the very beginning. And I've asked this questions in

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many parts of the world, I've yet to come across anyone, anyone who told me I like the teacher was hard working. But I've heard them say, I, like the teacher had a sense of humor, he made us realize what our purposes, they say, a teacher is not a sage on the stage, but a guide on the side, he impacted on me, he was concerned about me as a holistic human being. And I know there are two or three teachers come to my mind. So sama, I want you to share this with me. Absolutely right, the teachers that are coming to mind, I could actually recall teachers in my primary school year, and in my high school years, which wasn't too long ago, by the way.

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Yes, and and what I'm remembering is a really, I do not remember the subjects they even taught me. But I can remember the kind of interaction, I'm just going to take an example, in my primary school year, my art teacher, and I, it was a male, used to forever be at loggerheads, you know, he was he was unhappy with the way I was doing my art. And he thought I really wasn't very good at it. So about three weeks into the he said to me, you know, what we're going to now do, when I come into the classroom, I'm going to call you aside, you're going to be my assistant, and you're going to get everything ready, you're going to get the pins ready, and you're going to go to the office, and

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you're going to collect the brushes, and you're going to collect the pages that we need and need and you know, all the rest of it. And I was quite thrilled that I didn't have to do any art. And I said, Well, do I need to do any artist that no, you're going to be my assistant, so you're going to be checking on everybody else. And he made me do that for about two weeks, all of this coming to me now that I'm talking to you. And I was the assistant I was quite pleased with myself that I'm like, what you call it an assistant teacher. And about two months later, he said to me, You know what we're doing this particular task that was well that I can't remember. And don't you want to give it an

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attempt. And I tried. And back in the day, we used to draw these vases with fruit, you know, which made no sense to me, I didn't understand how you had to shade and make it look 3d and all the rest of it. And because he brought me onto his side, you know, he made me his friend, I was then able to draw really, maybe I should have kept my piece of art. But he could have given up on me. I could have become the naughty delinquent in the classroom, irritating him further. But he was smart in getting classroom control. So he got the problem, so called problem child on his side. So I do in any subject where the child who's not working to the to the potential you want, if you find an

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innovative way to get that child on your side, look, somebody might think, how did you waste this child's time for like five weeks, because I promise you the rest of the year probably wouldn't have done anything. But he found a method to sort of engage the student and actually saw that with other students as well. But on the other hand, I can remember high school teacher saying to me, how did you become a prefect? I will go to the principal. And I will make sure the principal takes you off the list. And I asked the teacher very directly Why? And she said to me for this very reason you're arrogant. And well, I remained a prefect. But those words stuck with me. I don't know why. And you

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know, maybe in the teacher's opinion, I was arrogant. I was disrespectful. But those words stayed for me forever. And I promised myself never to do that to a pupil ever, ever. So as a teacher, remember the hurtful things you say to a child sticks with them forever. And if that child's already at breaking point, that child can take that to heart. I'm useless. I'm stupid, I'm inadequate. I can't do anything. You know what is incredible. I can see the emotion still welling you know and it's so different.

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The second teacher has a low EQ, right low EQ, it's about relationship dynamics. And it's about the wisdom of the other teacher. And you never spoke about him being hard working. But he, he commiserated, he understood us the kind of wisdom. And that is a fundamental thing, a fundamental thing today we become so clinical in our classrooms, we are so concerned about completing the curriculum that we finished the student as it were, you know, so they we have a thank you so much for sharing their observation, just Akela Idris, for sharing all these insights with me. Now, at the beginning of our CD, you said to me, the landscape has changed. What do you mean by that? You know,

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shamima, if you look around, we are normal living in extended family, we living in nuclear family, and even in the nuclear family is often the mother displaying the part, we are living at a time of social media, you find that we are part of a global world, right? No more the parents are perhaps the inspiration for children. Children are consumed by the peers they consume, through the internet, everything has changed, everything has changed. And as a result of that, it does does impact on children. It impacts on the attitude and the values they bring. And therefore it is said, Every child that comes to school comes with three things. It comes with an IQ with the baggage of values,

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and attitude. This is something sometimes as educators, we forget about that we forget that these children are products of life experiences, they are coming with some information, maybe not knowledge, but some information. But what we do we ignore that we did not deal with that we did not deal what's in the mind. So and I'm saying that, to me, is perhaps the most compelling argument that we need to use, so that we change what we do, and how we do it at school interests. I think you've just started off my summary for me saying that, we have to take into account the IQ, the EQ and the attitude of a child when teaching them. Now, just a quick summary of what we've spoken about. We

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said that the landscape has changed. We said that, as teachers, we need to change our mindset. We need to teach academics Yes, certainly, because that is our purpose. But we need to take into consideration the child itself, you need to take into consideration holistic education, teaching a complete child looking at their spiritual needs, their physical needs, their emotional needs, a whole host of things. So yes, continue to teach your geography continue to teach your history, but incorporate values, skills, attitudes in that now, lots of the curriculum in the different countries do incorporate that. But sometimes we get so textbook bound in imparting the knowledge of the

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particular subject, that we forgetting the skills, the attitude, the value, then I think the skills we're doing in a pretty good way, but the attitudes and the values, how to incorporate that. So I think it is what you are trying to say, start teaching a complete child, start being empathetic yourself, show the children your emotional side, teach a complete classroom, teach a child and not a subject. Make sure that you're making education relevant to the children, don't let it be you going to class you teaching them this. And guys, you've got to learn this, you've got to remember this, because I'm going to be testing you on this in the exam. And they do beautifully in the exams, they

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get 10 out of 10 and your social, your principals happy with you that you know you've produced such good results, but then Yours is the class with the most discipline problems. So ask yourself, Am I delivering academically? Because I should be delivering more than adequately but then Am I engaging the particular child on a personal level? Am I taking into account the emotional quotient or am I only focusing on the intellectual quotient as it were?

Crisis in Education
Emotional Quotient
Changing Landscape

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