I grew up in India. All my education was in India. The only reason I got out of country was for opportunity and better life. With Sahana in my life I am experiencing something extraordinarily new that I believe wouldn’t happen again in my life. I am experiencing a second childhood. I have many bits and pieces of memory from my childhood. I remember some sweet ones and some sour ones. But what I am experiencing now is totally different.
I am part and parcel of American culture, but mostly contemporary. I mean if you refer to something from India which has roots in every kids childhood there, I would get it – but if you refer something related to American culture which every kid born here gets it, I probably wont. I mean I can read up history and politics and understand it – but I won’t be getting the essence of growing up here in this country – ever. Well until recently.
After Sahana turned like 14 months old – she has become more active with couple of things – TV shows (not much), language & education. Tv shows are fascinating because I had the same response Sahana has when she watched Elmo. I was surprised how well made is Sesame Street. When we watch Elmo – trust me I watch it with same intensity like Sahana does and I love it.
Language – Talking with Sahana and teaching her words has been a totally unique experience. The way she is picking up words and the way she remembers names is very interesting. Like many Indians who don’t speak much English but only written – there are some things which I do which usual Americans don’t do. A lot of Indians convert questions into statements and then add a visual or verbal cue in the end – signifying it’s a question. Like for example: “Do you like this?” becomes “You like this? No?”. I know it’s confusing. Similarly, when I ask Sahana – ‘Do you like this?’ – she would say “No”, and when I confirm by asking ‘So, you don’t like this’ (a statement) – she says “Yes”. I know this may not be special but thats just fascinating. I mean she understands – a question from a statement. And it took me 25 years to see the pattern in me (and other Indians) about that.
Education. I have always been fascinated by Education. I mean the whole idea of receiving knowledge from outside source. I mean a source outside of me other than my intuition and my reasoning. I don’t mean that the outside sources are bad but it’s been interesting to test out a lot of things at least for me to see how I learn better and how having better education changes things. My education made me who I am today. Escaping middle class in India. But I did had a crazy education. I was part of the boarding schools which competed on how long can you keep a student awake and make him sit in front of a book. They would make us get up like 4 am and would not sleep till 12am. Those were some crazy 7 years of my life.
But what made me stand out from the crowd during the period was how I was internalizing my learning and how I was spitting out a completely different notion of what I was learning. For example – they would teach us from 2-3 text books for a subject and we are supposed to write up what we understand. Instead of just filling up all the junk from remembering, I would draw stuff and make comparisons which was at least new to my teachers and they loved it.
Anyhow, when coming to American education – I am excited about how I would participate in Sahana’s learning and have my say in it. Only last year I learned the school system here and picking up on a lot of information from what Sangita tells me. I think I want Sahana to learn 3 things:
1. Mathematics – Whether or not if it’s a queen of sciences – Math is definitely needed not for calculating stuff but to expand ones imagination. I mean math is a science about perfect world. It proposes an alternative reality, one better than what we experience – but in a sense it’s perfect. I believe Math would teach Sahana how to imagine better and see things in her mind’s eye. I want to introduce Math as an art form and let her deduce her own things. Learn by exploring.
2. Science – If Math expands imagination, Science expands reasoning, causation. Science is cool because there is no BS in it. It doesn’t fool around. Whether it’s there or it isn’t. I want to teach her the curiosity through science. I want to strengthen her rational thinking through Science.
3. Computation – I think computation is nothing but problem solving. The tools, utilities and reminiscents are actual physical computers, programming languages etc. But where else would you get a world for yourself to create, craft and test out solutions for problems. Computation is tightly packed with Math and Science. Math gives one a liberty to imagine things and craft an ideal solution, Science builds limits and makes it more creative to solve it within the limits.
I know I am missing a lot of stuff in the list. The above 3 are the ones I am most excited about. I am having a second childhood experience through Sahana and what’s coming up for her. Super exited!