For the past week, I attended a
number of spring dinners organized by various educational bodies. These are
always great occasions for meeting old friends and making new ones.
At one of the dinners, I was
seated next to a kindergarten principal. We chatted happily over fun matters as
well as serious issues. Soon, we started to comment on children these days. I
remarked that for lack of siblings, children only start to learn co-operation
and resolving conflicts when they begin schooling. Then the principal told me a
few incidents that were truly thought-provoking.
The kindergarten gave their
pupils halved but not yet peeled bananas as snacks. Looking at the halved
banana, one child was quite puzzled and asked how he was to eat it. He had
never seen bananas with the peel. To him, bananas were diced to be picked up
with a fork! There was another child who asked the teacher to remove the black
sesame seeds from the dragon fruit slices. In another activity, children were
taught to use chopsticks. A boy cried out that chopsticks were too dangerous
and that he was only allowed the use of the spoon!
Children these days are simply
being cocooned in the warmth and safety of their parents’ protection. They are
never given any chances of “trial and error”. But no matter how hard parents
try, there will come a day when their children are faced with challenges they
have to deal with by themselves. If they don’t experience failure and
disappointment or suffer a few bruises at an early stage, they might find even
the smallest setbacks or injuries traumatic. Then who is to be blamed for their
fragility and vulnerability?