Nepal | April 05, 2020

Contextual learning

Mira Gotame

“Can education be obtained only in school?” This was a question I had put to the seventh graders. They said that they could also gain knowledge from friends, their mistakes and difficult situations. They got me exactly right. I have always believed that learning could happen anywhere. My one and only purpose to go to school as a child was to read and write. My sources of learning were the different situations, people and their behaviour, environment and friends.

In the rapidly changing world, the roles of schools and teachers are extended. Parents’ expectations have also doubled. But also, if anyone thinks that lessons can be only learnt in school, they are wrong. As a mother or father, you are the first teacher for them.

Last month, I was going to Putalisadak from Pepsicola in a taxi with my nine-year-old son. As soon as it picked up speed, the driver started a casual conversation. When we reached Tinkune, he told us about the overnight makeover of the place. Since it was a day before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, the place was being spruced up. The sight of different types of vehicles for cleaning tickled my son’s fancy. The driver was willingly explaining about them to my son. It was
at Baneswor that my son inquired about a torn flex hoarding along the roadside. “Why do people destroy public property instead of maintaining it?” he enquired, sounding like a very aware citizen.

In the mean time, the driver was also talking about how China had developed. From Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin, he had good knowledge about world politics, but seemed to
be annoyed by the country’s political situation. When we reached Maitighar, we saw people busy placing flower pots around the Mandala. Seeing this, he expressed his disapproval of the government making haste at the eleventh hour.

After we got off, we met my mother and sister. It was then that I realised how inspiring that travel had been for my son. No sooner had he met his aunt than he started sharing all that he had learnt from the taxi driver. For a moment, my sister was surprised to see how knowledgeable he was.

What he learnt was contextual learning. Thanks to that person who became a teacher for a moment. I am pretty sure the lesson will remain in his
memory throughout life. In life anyone can teach you lessons, regardless of one’s profession. Learning can take place anywhere.

 


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