Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Of JOY and the Magic of Whole-Being Learning

Of JOY & The Magic of Whole Being Learning:
Some days back Shreedhari had her annual dance performance at Studio Sharise where she has been learning western forms of dance like jazz, tap and hip-hop since 2 years now. Last year she chose to focus on Tap and also started learning Bharatnatyam with another Indian dance school here.
It was apparent to me from the start that she enjoyed dance immensely. I remember asking her when she was much younger if she wanted to try dance and she would always say no. But always kept dancing at home. Dancing to Bollywood, Carnatic , Classical ...any kind of music . Its hard for her to stay still when music is played.
Two years back she came to me saying she was now ready to dance. Most children these days start much earlier at @ 5 yrs and she was already 8 then. She turns 10 this Sept. Years of life-learning, child-led learning has taught me the most precious lesson and value of waiting in learning. There is no other better time to learn than when the learner is ready. It is such a simple yet difficult concept to grasp for us adults in today's day and age when everything has to me mastered by the age of 10 or you never learn it. I'm glad I didn't push her. And boy did she take off!
Me and Shankar Ratneshwaran have been so surprised with her tenacity and dedication to this art form. Come what may she has to practice everyday. She will never go to a class to repeat the same lesson. She dipped into it completely. To the point that she will schedule everything else around it. Check in with me about the day's plans and other activities. Decide whether she wants to pursue other activities or not. All centered around her dance.
Last year , in our previous residence, when we were having trouble with our neighbor below who was complaining about her dancing and making noise, she would choose to dance in the hallways in the winter in freezing temperatures. Its like nothing could stop her. The perfectionist in her blossomed in her through her dance. I never knew she was one.
I've even seen her get nervous, tense if she hasn't practiced. We ( including her teachers) have many a times reminded her to be chilled about it and not make it so taxing on herself. But NO. The inner drive is SO much that none of this makes sense to her.
She has also been very lucky to have the presence of Sharise Pervez from Studio Sharise as her teacher. Being a home-schooler herself, Sharise teaches dance gently , encouraging the child to explore herself through dance rather than pushing it as an art to perfect. There is a lot of talking of emotions, feelings, wishes, aspirations, frustrations, time management and what not through hand-outs, inspirational messages. Shreedhari and Studio Sharise are like water to fish. Its been nothing short of a blessing that Shreedhari landed in this community of dancers. Its like the perfect teacher coming to you when you are brimming with the desire to learn.
Last year she received the Best Outgoing Student Award in her class for not only her dedication to dance but also team-work, empathy, being punctual etc...In this year's annual show, she was in many numbers and throughly enjoyed it. Practicing for the annual show along with her regular Bharatnatyam class practice would take up 2 hours every day. Along with weekdays and sat class practice. But every time she had a class, she would come out beaming and SO joyful. Yes tired with aching feet but loving it.
I remember years back when I was starting out as a home-schooler asking for advice from older and seasoned moms. Urmila Samson would often tell me about "whole-being learning" where the mind, body and soul were engaged in the learning. Where you get to see the whole spirit of the being/child lifted up and glowing in the learning activity. There is only JOY and nothing else. This is EXACTLY learning and we need to put all our energy into it and not vice-versa where money and time is put into learning what we aren't good at. Invest more energy and time into what the child enjoys learning , she would say. How true! And how complex we make learning into , trying to find fixes and solutions and all sorts of models making someone learn what they don't want to? There is an entire industry out there , flourishing on learning deficiencies. Are my children learning disabled? Yes they are, if I ask them to sit quiet and do worksheet after worksheet for hours. Are they gifted? Yes they are, if allowed to indulge in their whole-being learning.
We as adults can either choose to trust in what our kids want to learn or choose to dip in our fears and conditioning about what they should be learning. There are careers out there for everyone- for cooks, for dancers, for magicians, for IT professionals , for entrepreneurs...there are as many careers out there as there are interests. I have learned over the years that the best education model is to literally follow one's nose!
As I watched Shreedhari with so much joy and utter perfection over not missing a beat, my heart unconsciously made a wish that she choose dance as her profession . That she live the life I never got to completely. That she go out there and explore every form of dance in every nuance ,in every way she wants. But that's just me. I have also learned over the years to not tie my expectations or wishes to my children's learning adventures. Learning is very personal. What my children will do in their adult years is unpredictable now and really their business. But all I know is that they are learning the art of learning with joy. Learning to pursue happiness and oneness with their selves. Learning to follow their nose. Learning to be themselves and trust themselves. Learning to not value learning according to other people's conditioning.
For now, I'm choosing to utterly enjoy the joy and love of my child for dance. Its a gift like none other to receive- when you see your child love what you love to do. I'm excited and also very grateful to Studio Sharise ....Shreedhari has been asked to become a teacher assistant for the upcoming year. A very big honor indeed for her. it combines 2 of her passions- Dance and little kids.
Shreedhari's pursuit of her dance has also made us realize about how different and unique she is compared to her akka. She prefers doing one thing at a time and not have several interests at the same time. Though she is subtly a part of everything in the house- in her akka's business, in cooking, in gardening , in playing, in travelling...in everything but only to the extent she wants . Time and energy management are key to her and she will not take up more than she can handle. Her inclinations are more towards picking up one thing and getting it right rather than dipping a bit into everything like her akka. Two siblings - very different. Each to her own. One not better than the other. Each one's pursuit of her joy is unique. No need to compare. No need to push or require that one be like the other.
Just let everyone BE and follow his/her nose. Its that simple. I tell ya! ))