By Reshma Parveen
The film “Taare Zameen Par” by Amir Khan has undoubtedly attracted the attention of educationists, teachers, parents, administrators and others interested in education. It is almost the first film, especially in Urdu/ Hindi speaking context, which may contribute to the educational theory and practice tremendously. A film can change the thinking, attitudes, behaviours, and practice of people much faster than any other technique.
The film gives some very important messages for parents and teachers alike. The role of the parents shown in the film is a typical role existing in our society, may be in a different form. For instance most fathers believe that they are responsible for earning money and therefore the internal responsibility of the house including child development is of the wife. This is a very dangerous notion, because the children may develop an indifferent attitude towards their fathers.
The film also shows a blaming attitude of the mother towards the child when she mentions that she has left her job because of him——here the child feels as if all the wrong happenings are because of him/her. Parents should be very careful and try not to make the child realize as if he/she is a burden on them, this affects the self-esteem of the child. A mother being with their children all the time is not necessarily giving quality time rather a mother who even spends less time but is of quality is much more important. One very important and critical situation which is presented in the film is comparison of the two brothers——a reality existing in our society. Many of the parents as well as teachers I have come across depend on this notion of comparison in order to either check students progress or to see who is more able. Children are very different from each other, even twins have got different abilities which needs to be tackled differently. Praising one child infront of the other and stating that the other is so duffer, creates many psychological problem for the child as it stops the personality development, affects the self-esteem which many lead to failure in life.
The role of the traditional teachers shown is an eye opener to our society. We should move away with it but on the other hand the role of the modern teacher played is also of a very ideal state. Can we imagine this role of the teacher in our schools? Nevertheless, the modern role of the teacher has so many messages embedded in it. Firstly, catering for individual differences is an important aspect of teaching and learning. We generally believe that all students have same ability in a class and teaching one students is same for all therefore whatever one student learns in the class should be learnt by all equally well—–is this a right belief? Even I have heard teachers blaming students “so and so stands first in the class and learns all material I give, do I teach him/her differently?” Each child needs are different and treating them all equal is ineffective teaching. Secondly, the teachers’ attitude with the students is friendly and unthreatening, therefore the students are able to follow the instruction and share their problems through different means. Thirdly, each child has got his/her potentialities and they only need opportunities and guidance to bring them out. In the traditional class the teachers was to decide what to draw and paint but in the modern class the teacher gave them a freedom to draw whatever they want. This gave an honour to their work and thus raised the self-esteem of the children.
At one place when the teacher was asking some questions regarding the names of some scientists, contradicts with some psychological aspects of teaching. For instance this class was of 9/10-years old students and the concepts which he was asking were very abstract. Piaget (a psychologist) argues that at this age children cannot understand abstract thinking and thus it develops rote leaning. The questioning style and not giving time to think is another contradicting point.
Some of the points which we should examine in our context are:
- The context of the film is very different from ours—-they being in an urban situation and we in a rural context—–therefore coping things straightaway might be dangerous.
- The class which the teacher (Amir Khan) teaches is a specific class of “Art” it may not be generalized in all subjects and disciplines
- It is also possible that the film affects the children/students watching it, negatively, because children idealize such situations—–the teacher, the way he behaves, the school, the facilities—–and when they do not find it in reality in their context may affect them. My own 3-years old son one day comes from school and asks me “mama! Why my teacher does not sing ‘bum bum boolay…’” and I was stuck, how to answer to this little boy. Therefore we should be very careful about the audience if we want to show it. Thus the film is more focused for parents and teachers rather than students.
Anyhow it is a very interesting and intensively researched movie and a person related to a film industry may bring more changes in understanding and practices of teaching than educators. It is a good contribution towards teacher education and parental education. I recommend to watch the film and enjoy it but with a critical eye.
The contributor is currently pursuing M Ed. degree from Nortre Dame Institute of Education, Karachi.