Leaving Home and your Comfort Zone to Learn+ #73
“Children want to exercise their faculties, including their capacity to flirt with danger, to be scared and excited, and to cope with and recover from injury. One of the proper goals of parenting (and by extension education) is to intelligently help a child develop agency about risk. Like all agency this requires both choice and competent judgment. Which means knowledge, which means learning by doing and failure.”
-Matt Bateman, VP-Pedagogy at Higher Ground Education, who run several Montessori schools
Hi, this is the GenWise team- we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and working together.
We are also a founder-member of the Gifted India Network- if you are interested in issues related to gifted education and talent development, an easy way to keep updated about talks, programs and resources is to join the Gifted India Network telegram channel (https://t.me/GiftedIndia).
In this week’s post, our friend and founder of The Parent Academy, Ritika Subhash, writes about why it’s important to get your kids to go out of the home, both literally and figuratively and have unstructured experiences.
The details of our Gifted Summer Program in May 2023 for students moving to grades 6-10 are available in the upcoming events section- please note that there is an early bird offer till February 28, 2023. We will also have another Gifted Summer Program in July 2023- this will open up for registration soon.
Leaving Home and your Comfort Zone to Learn
Isn't it a marvelous age that we live in? Ready access to information, technology, and consumer-friendly services has truly made our worlds spin around us. One could spend a complete day (or even weeks or months) without as much as needing to step out of the house. You can work from home, order food at home, exercise at home by putting on a workout video, get a massage at home, get a play gym for your kids at home, and even indulge in simulated sports right in the comfort of your home. What’s more, if you crave to hear the sounds of the oceans while sitting in a land-locked city, you can simply put on meditative music on YouTube that will promise to take you through that exact same experience. And so life and the world as we knew it has completely changed for the modern, urban parents and children.
Or has it?
After all, our children will need to step out of their house and by extension, their comfort zone eventually. Will they be prepared for the real world outside of the virtual one they created in the confines of their home? When we face real-world problems, whether outside or within our homes, there are certain time-tested qualities that can help us accept and overcome challenges – grit, determination, critical thinking, motivation, action, faith, and lastly, experience. Think about it - Isn’t it always easier to deal with problems the second time around, when we have already gone through similar experiences and have conquered them? Don’t we handle situations better when we have a strong mind and a strong body that houses it? The strength of mind, body, and character comes from consciously expanding the comfort zone and stepping out into the space of the unknown.
Stepping outside of the house is a sensory experience – one where children see sights, hear noises, smell odors, touch things and maybe even taste things that they will otherwise not experience in their homes. Such experiences, especially when they are unstructured and un-curated, can help children appreciate the fluidity of life, as well as the beauty of it. They learn to appreciate a routine, while also learning to adapt to novelty often. They learn to explore more, create more and savor more. Children need to experience failure and frustration, pushes and pulls, falls and bruises for their bodies to heal and grow stronger. They have to meet people, hear stories, observe the world, experience the beauty of nature as well as see the vastness and injustice of life in order to know themselves better and build discernment. By nudging them outside their comfort zone every now and then, you can help children build critical skills of observation; presence of mind, planning, and execution that can help them survive setbacks and failures.
Our bodies are not designed to sit for hours at a stretch, nor are they built to constantly inhale toxic air, which many studies are proving to be omnipresent in our homes. That itself is reason enough to leave the house for you and for your kids. Getting up and going out will fill you and your child's life with experiences that you can never have in isolation. One of the best ways to do this is to go out in nature on a regular basis and walk bare feet on the ground. Grounding or earthing is a natural healing technique that has proven benefits in reducing body inflammation and lowering stress. If going barefoot is not an option then find ways to touch a tree or its leaves. It provides the same earthing benefits as walking without shoes. Also, allow children to climb trees under your supervision and challenge them to explore nature without fear. The more they learn to traverse natural spaces, the more confident they become in the ability of their body to navigate that space by overcoming challenges.
Besides connecting with oneself, a park is a place for kids to explore friendships and collaborate with others for the common purpose of having fun. They eventually learn to innovate, they learn to include and they learn to speak up outside their comfort zone. New places, new faces, and new challenges can bring out facets of your child that you never even knew they possessed. What better way to get your children to explore their full potential?
A famous British polar explorer by the name of Ben Saunders presented a TED talk ‘Why bother leaving the house’. He has broken many records in leading the first-ever return journey to the South Pole on foot and has skied more than 3000 miles since he started. He has endured some of the worst possible conditions that the human body can be exposed to: -75 degrees of temperature, 3 months of the solo expedition without a soul in sight, and carrying many kilos of weight in food and supplies by himself. He said something beautiful as he was sharing his unique experience as an explorer–
“that in the doing, the trying to experience, to engage and to endeavor, rather than to watch and to wonder, that’s where the real meat of life is. Real inspiration and growth only come from adversity and from a challenge, from stepping away from what’s comfortable and familiar and stepping out into the unknown”.
I couldn’t agree more.
The above post is by the founder of The Parent Academy, Ritika Subhash. For parenting masterclasses and creative writing workshops, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ways of Computing (In-Person at Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, Bengaluru and streamed online) is part of the Kaapi with Curiosity series from the ICTS outreach team, and is scheduled on Sun, Feb 26, from 4 to 530 PM IST.
Is nature computing? If it is, can we trick it into performing our dirty computational tasks? Using examples, we will see how the laws of mechanics and probability inspire strikingly beautiful algorithms. We will then see how the combination of randomness and interaction allows us to perform seemingly impossible tasks.
About the Speaker:
Jaikumar Radhakrishnan is a theoretical computer scientist with research interests in complexity theory, randomness and computation, quantum information and computation, combinatorics, and information theory. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rutgers University, NJ, USA, in 1991, he joined TIFR, where is currently a senior professor at the School of Technology and Computer Science (STCS), TIFR, Mumbai, and at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS-TIFR), Bengaluru.
You can register for the session here.
Gifted Summer Program (Gr. 6-10)- May 2023, MAHE Campus, Manipal
The program is exclusively for gifted students who are top performers on Ei-ASSET Talent Search (Ei- ATS). If you do not have an ATS score, but are interested in the program, please contact us with your ASSET scores. If you haven’t taken ASSET recently, you can take it here. More details of the program and registration links available here.
Younger students moving from Grade 4 to Grade 5 this year, can attend this online program.
For further details, please send a Whatsapp message, or call-
Residential Internship Program for High School Students May 2023, MAHE Campus, Manipal- GenWise is offering a 2-week 'Residential Internship' program from May 14 to May 20, 2023 at MAHE campus, Manipal. In this program, students finishing grades 10 and 11 will be introduced to various opportunities, as well as issues that need to be considered before they embark on their dream life journey, beyond school.
The program design will be finetuned based on the requirements and interests of the incoming students. Students will be required to express their areas of interest a month before the program startis, to enable us to finetune the plan and the projects offered. 60% of the program focuses on providing domain exposure and making students aware of the life skills they need to develop to set and attain their goals. And 40% of the program is spent on project work. For more details click here, and register for the program here.
Coming Soon- Gifted Summer Program International (Gr. 6-10)- July 2023, MAHE Campus, Manipal
The program is exclusively for gifted students from UAE and students on the international calendar from India and other countries. Top performers on Ei-ASSET Talent Search (Ei- ATS) are eligible to apply for the program. If you do not have an ATS score, but are interested in the program, please contact us with your ASSET scores. If you haven’t taken ASSET recently, you can take it here. Watch this space for more details- the program will open for registration in early March 2023.
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