The Joy of Learning

“ Part of what motivates me to write this book is a concern that we’ve lost touch in education with the sheer joy of what it means to learn something new.”
Thomas Armstrong, Author, Awakening Genius in the Classroom

I think I was around 6 years old, when my mum decided to put me into Piano class. I am quite sure it was an afterthought because it was my younger sister who was first put into the class. Till today, I could still remember, following my mum and sister to her classes at Yamaha.

Why was I asked to learn the piano with my sister? I guess it was my demonstration of my musical ability on the piano (which was bought for my sister to practice). Without any music lessons, I stunned my family by playing renditions of TV serial songs. And, of course, I disrupted my sister practicing session (and maybe, self-confidence, in the process).

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My mum, a “talent scout” of sorts insisted that I should have formal training to bring out the best in me. Like all parents would do. So, I began to attend piano lessons each week in a small cramped room that was only big enough for my piano teacher, the piano and me. Frankly, I cannot really remember much of the lessons. But, without a doubt, I could definitely recall the constant nagging of my mum to practice everyday pounding in my head. This went on for about 2 years. During those two years, I did not take any practical exam, as I was averse to the idea of being graded, I think. Fear of failure, maybe. Soon after, my dear mum withdrew me from the piano lessons. I guessed she must have realized that I am not going to amount much if I had adamantly refused to go for any piano grading exams.

Was I being a difficult child to my mum who probably had so much of hope in me to be the next Richard Letterman or even, a Mozart in the making? I mean, I had the talent in music. At least, that was what my piano teacher was raving to my mum during the initial few weeks of piano lessons. How could it be when I actually passed my theory exam with flying color (shocking everyone in the process!)? Frankly, I never had any doubts about my musical intelligence (based on Harvard’s Professor Howard Gardner’s concept of Multiple Intelligence) and more importantly, my love for it.

I realized that it was the formal training in music that killed my interest and eventually, not wanting to touch a piano since then. I guessed I would never know how good I could be. Would I have become a concert pianist or be a composer? Did I resent my mum for sending me to the piano lessons? Probably not, although I could still recall the agony whenever I was “coerced” to practice. I supposed my mum could have been more observant towards my change of attitude before and after the classes. So, mum and dad (yes, you!), , please observe your kid’s behavior and attitudes when you send them for enrichment classes or just school, for that matter.

At the end of the day, it is your child’s joy of learning that would sustain his/her interest to excel if he/she wants to. Bear in mind that force-feeding would only do my harm than good. As always, keep a balance in whatever you do for your child. Try to put yourself in their shoes, having to rote-learn and practice day in and day out. At the end of the day, a happy childhood is something is a very precious thing that money cannot buy! The joy of learning that you imbue in your child would outweigh the anxiety(and fear!) that you put your child through to excel in a certain area.

Be mindful and stay balanced!

Thank you for taking the time to read our article.
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