The Untapped Learning Potential Of Children
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The Untapped Learning Potential Of Children Posted By Ashok

The Untapped Learning Potential Of Children
I was sitting in my cab, a rainy Monday morning, on my way to the office.  There was a huge traffic jam since there was construction happening on the highway and the rain didn’t help the situation.  So the traffic was worse than usual. I sat there stuck in the same spot for about ten or fifteen minutes.  But I didn’t notice the time go by at all.  I was lost in the scene outside my window, which transported me to my own childhood years.  

There was the construction crew there, as expected, but there was also a little boy, with no shirt and eager to work alongside his father learning how to smooth out the cement, as his father was doing.  He seemed to be a happy child.  He didn’t seem to notice the endless traffic or the fact that it was cold outside and it was raining and he wasn’t wearing a shirt, just shorts.  The scene would look desperate to anyone sitting warm in their car.  But the little boy knew nothing else.  That was his life, so he wasn’t bothered.  Instead, he was absorbed in learning what his father was doing, as little boys are, regardless of social or financial status.  Little boys will always try to emulate their fathers.  So this was no different. But the reason, I was lost in this scene is because I used to be that little boy.  

Although, now I am sitting comfortably sitting in a car, my life wasn’t always like this.  I was born to the poorer class, of which there are many of in India.  I, just like all the others like me, learned to work the same kind of jobs our parents did.  I wasn’t unhappy.  I was a small boy, playing and eager to learn what my father was doing, which was construction.  I used to help him doing small things, just like other small boys, I knew.  Little did I know that my life was about to take a dramatic turn, as I sat there smoothing out the cement.  

A group of individuals, doing social work, wanted to teach the small children in the area to read and write and give them some kind of education.  So, after a lot of talking among the adults, a few of us spent a few hours a day, learning to read and write.  A whole new world opened up to me.  I started to ask for more and more information. I was ready to learn, curious to learn about the world and soaking up whatever they were teaching. One of the social workers, a middle-aged professor, took a special interest in me and he spent extra time teaching me everything I was interested in learning.  He encouraged my curiosity and saw the potential which lay within me.  He was not only a teacher to me.  He became more because, during all those lessons, we started to form a bond. A relationship that became strong and unbreakable.  He became like a second father to me.  He encouraged me to write all my exams and spent hours coaching me, supporting me, and not just with encouragement but he started to take on paying the costs of educating me.  

Before you knew it, I was ready for college and he motivated me to apply to the local colleges. I was, of course, hesitant because who would accept me, a kid from the poorest class in India, without a proper roof over his head, whose parents couldn’t read and write.  But he never gave up on me and I got admission in a small college and I studied hard so that I would not waste the opportunity given to me.  So, with the encouragement and support of the young man who came to teach small children, as part of a social service activity, he changed my life and formed a special attachment to me, which still lasts today. In fact, it was because of him, I even chose a career in construction.  I am now an engineer working for a company that allows me the luxury of traveling by car to my job.  So, a small boy who was just playing and trying to be like his father, with the exposure to learning to read and write, allowed him the opportunity to expand his mind and soak up all there was to learn.  All this happened because he was given the opportunity to satisfy his curiosity for learning. 


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