Published: 27th July 2019
Why every parent should read Kamala Mukunda's book 'What Did You Ask At School Today?'
Author Kamala Mukunda pens down her experience as a teacher and parent in her new book, 'What Did You Ask At School Today?'
When children ask questions at school or at home, they are often discouraged or ignored. But Kamala Mukunda's What Did You Ask At School Today? (both Book I and Book II, which released this year) explain the psychology behind children's questions and why one must encourage them. Coming 10 years after her first book, this one deals with a set of different topics like learning difficulties, the attention span of a child, why there is a big gender gap is pursuing subjects like Science or Math, the impact of digitisation and so on. Kamala reasons that these are as contemporary as it gets, "I felt that these are the topics that parents and teachers have been talking about for the past few years. That's why I included some of them in this book," she explains.
Having a doctorate in Educational Psychology from Syracuse University, Kamala works as a teacher at the Centre For Learning — where she teaches Psychology and Statistics to middle schoolers. "Being a parent and a teacher, I know what doubts are in their minds. These days, parents take an active interest in bringing up children — more than they ever used to. Whenever parents have questions in their mind, either they browse or read some articles in the newspaper but that is not sufficient. Hence, I brought out this book incorporating all my experiences and research in a way that can be easily understood by parents," says this teacher who has been working for more than 25 years now.
Author: Kamala Mukunda has written two books in the series, What Did You Ask At School Today?
According to Kamala, whenever a child asks a question and the teacher does not know the answer, then they can politely accept to not knowing the answer. She says, "It is better that teachers include the child in the process of hunting for answers. And by saying 'I don't know' the child will never lose respect for the teacher. But we often fail to do so. There is a fear in us that we might lose authority if we don't answer their question. I remember an incident from my college days. My friend asked a doubt in the class and the teacher rudely told him to ask questions outside the class and not inside."
Her resolve not to be one of those teachers is what has led her to be a little more offbeat, "My interaction with children is across a wide range of setting and not just within the four walls. Since the Centre For Learning believes in creativity and freedom of the child, I take them on a walk in the campus to make them understand things. I feel that I have understood and grown along with the children. When I look at them, I felt that they are a species to themselves and need not be moulded."
A handbook of child learning: This book was released three months ago
When we asked her if teachers must reinvent themselves, she says, "I think reinventing is not the right word. Instead, teachers must unlearn some of the skills that they might have learnt from another teacher in their class. We already have a bunch of assumptions or prejudices in our mind about how to teach and behave with the child. Leaving all those behind, we must relearn things."
Explaining how teachers can help children overcome those learning difficulties, Kamala says, "We must be compassionate towards a child who has learning difficulties. Stop being angry or disappointed. In my perspective, having learning difficulties is not the end of a child's life. Learning is just a part of life which can be overcome by putting in the extra effort. Secondly, one must study the learning disability so that they can tutor the child effectively. There are several certificate courses available to help children tackle such disabilities. Training more and more people in this will definitely help."
Which brings us to the huge gender gap in STEM education — something the author has written about in detail. "I feel that we must change the attitude in girls that they cannot do Science or Math. Apart from this, there are several social issues which must be addressed right from our homes. We must stop having biases about girls," says Kamala. Time to ask those questions?