Hurray, it is a working day!
During Monsoon, every child in Kerala looks forward to the Facebook update of district collectors. Any mention of holiday is greeted with joy. Collectors have huge fan following among students depending on number of holidays they declare when it rains. Children are overjoyed when they get an unexpected holiday. They forget the precious loss of class room hours required for their academic progress.
The attitude to work is influenced both by the family and society. It is a well known fact that there is no other place in India or even the entire world which has so many hartals as in Kerala. People not only enjoy hartals organised by political parties and organisations but keep away from productive work making the events a grand success. Therefore, children also develop a welcoming attitude towards such unexpected holidays. When students are assigned home work on such days, parents express discontent despite the fact that it is in the interest of students not to lose touch with academics.
In this context some principles of Daniel Goleman detailed in his best seller “Emotional Intelligence” becomes very relevant. Is it possible for the children to enjoy their work?
Daniel Goleman refers to a state of getting into a Flow. “Athletes know
It is a state of grace as the zone where excellence becomes effortless and there is a steady absorption in the moment. A flow is an experience almost everyone enters from time to time, particularly when performing at their peak or stretching beyond their former limits. Because the flow feels so good, it is intrinsically rewarding. It is a state in which people
become utterly absorbed in what they are doing, paying undivided attention to the task, their awareness merged with their actions.“
Even when children in kindergartens are assigned any task like painting a picture or even cleaning up their own seat, sometimes you could see them engrossed in their work taking their own time to give some finishing touches to their work. It is on such occasions that a teacher or mother should intervene most constructively. The child at this stage should not be interrupted by parents or teachers and made to do another task as they are fully involved in what they are doing. Give them time to complete their task and give them a chance to have the feeling of satisfaction in doing a good job. Guide them to assess their own performance and also to look for ways of improving on their work to perfection.More than just appreciation and exhibition of their work, it would be better, if the parents let the children start enjoying the feeling of self satisfaction.
Daniel Goleman also stated that “although people perform at their peak while in flow, they are unconcerned with how they are doing, with neither the thoughts of success nor failure – the sheer pleasure of the act itself is what motivates them”. Any person if he is totally involved in his work, neither the reward for the work, nor the strain involved in it will affect their performance. So trying to motivate children with expensive rewards is not an effective method of making them do a good job.Instead, they should feel or experience the joy of getting into a flow.It is true that it may require considerable effort to get focused enough to begin a task, but later it will take a force of its own, making the task effortless.
Attitude to Work
More than any thing else, a right attitude towards work is what is most important. Parents and teachers who grumble and curse all sorts of hard work leave a very bad influence on children.The parents and teachers should show how work can be enjoyed by setting an example to the students. Any work, whether it is cleaning the floor or cooking favourite dish or solving a mathematical problem can be enjoyed and should never be looked down upon as drudgery.
Besides, the routine school work may appear boring to many children. If a task is too easy it may be boring. If too challenging the result is anxiety. So the area in which the child has an aptitude should be chosen to experience initially how to get into a flow. Each child has his own area of strength out of the multiple intelligences and the work that they take up should be challenging enough to retain their attention. If the children learn to get absorbed in the work that they love, they can use the same technique to get involved in which ever work is required to be performed by them.
In short, the children should learn to enjoy doing which ever task that they take up. A positive and optimistic outlook is the magic potion for seeing “work “as an enjoyableexperience. So let us hope soon we will hear at least some children will happily say “Hurray! It is a working day.”