Teaching Creativity and Moral Values to Children: What new parents are thinking?
In Bangladesh; especially in the capital Dhaka, there is a group of young parents emerging who wants more than academic excellence from schools for their children. They want the schools to make their children more creative and ethical. But how schools are reacting to this new need of this new group of parents?
In my last 3 years of work with education and creativity, I’ve met hundreds of parents. And what I found during all these formal or informal encounters with the parents is that this is a new group of parents emerging in Bangladesh. They have got the best education, working in good companies and they are really busy. Aged between 30–45 years old, this group of parents have one or two children who are currently going to schools. Many of them became parents for the first time. And they think differently about their children’s lives and their education; unlike their own parents.
This group of parents don’t want their children to become top in their classroom. They want a decent academic performance from their children. And if the school can deliver it, they are in peace with that. This group of parents learned from their own lives that academic results didn’t determine their success or failure. They learned that success in professional career is dependent on individual skills that are not being taught in schools.
This new group of parents are really worried about their children’s moral development. With recent incidents regarding extremism, they are more worried about what kind of values their children are developing rather than how good their children are in academics. And they want schools to teach children about ethics and moral values in the classroom.
When I asked them why can’t do you this yourselves, their simple answer was that they don’t have enough time to spend with their children. When both are working parents and you are a nuclear family, this is a common issue for families in Dhaka. When they were children, it was the family from where they learned about moral values and ethics. Families were bigger back then with grandparents and uncle-aunties living under the same roof. It’s not the case anymore.
Another important skill these new parents want school to teach their children: creativity. This parent group realized that ‘creativity’ is going to be the most important indicator for their children’s success in coming days. They know about World Economic Forum’s prediction that 30% of the current jobs will be extinct within next 20 years.
This is the new group of parents who attend the school parents meeting and feel suffocated when they see other parents’ obsession with results and exam marks. This group is still the minority. Majority of the parents are still under this false assumption that only academic result in school level will ensure their children’s future success. But the minority group is picking up and very soon they will become the majority. I am hopeful that it will happen within next 5 years.
But are the school authorities thinking about this new group of parents? What kind of changes they are bringing to their classroom curriculum and the methods they are teaching in the classroom? Are they asking themselves: How can I teach creativity and moral values to children in our classrooms?
I know of some schools in Dhaka who are usually following IB or other foreign curriculum, are trying to put creativity, problem-solving and values into their classroom. These are the most expensive schools in Dhaka and many parents including this emerging middle-class new parents can’t afford to send their children to those schools. I think the other private schools in Dhaka will pick up this new demand soon. They are probably waiting for that shift, when the minority becomes the majority.