Thoughts on ‘Socialization’ and the mirror named ‘Child’, how adults set dangerous examples

Contributed by: Kamzason Hangsing
Dated: 21st November, 2012

Me being in Lucknow and working at KHEL helped me revisit a word, which I had been taking  for granted for all these years. Three years of Social Work curriculum and two years of Life Skills Education did not hit me as hard as the moments I have encountered in KHEL sessions/events. Socialization, a word you often hear, is the very word that questions my 23 year old tiny brain. As a young inexperienced social worker, it’s a new-found, challenging thought that may be old…and if it is, I hope it makes you smile that here’s a young mind has just woken up! But if it’s something that had never struck you before you read it here, then I hope it haunts you too…

Violence begins in the classroom and the choice of life skills too…

It was during a KHEL session, when one of the students, who was assigned to maintain the discipline of the students group, was asked not to hit his fellow students physically, but use words, to which the reply came as “nahi hota hai, hath apne aap chale jate hai” (I can’t do it, my hand hits out by itself!). Had I been Ivan Pavlov, I might have taken this as a control experiment instead of the salivating dog. Instead of using words, though the boy may have wished to, it had become his reflex action to hit other persons with his hand. Where did this child get conditioned to act in such a manner? Was that the norm he had been taught, to get physical when things didn’t go as per plan? Who is responsible for his conditioning? What do you think? For me, for good or bad, it’s the significant others, adults and the society as a whole.

The other day I saw a teacher hitting his student at the back of his head. I find it very difficult to accept that. Though a cane was used to discipline me when I was a student, I find it hard to accept a teacher or anyone hitting a child at the back of his/her head; I would consider it “violent” rather than “disciplining”. I am not sure if you could see the difference as I do. After the incident, I became aware about what was going on. The children were doing the same, hitting one another (when they try to get something done by their peers) just as the teacher/the adult with authority does. This got me thinking that I what I would want us all to be more mindful about is that for every act or word we spell, we are a model, we are conditioning the ‘little people’ around us, children,who are observing and imitating us constantly.

Very often, I have also felt bad to see students in order to get some benefits and attention, trying hard to please their teachers. There are students who do manage to win the favour of the teachers by being true to themselves, but I am talking about those who sell their dignity and values so as to get small benefits. Though I used to be very angry thinking about such acts of the students, but recently I have started thinking otherwise. Why were the students doing so? There must have been a conditioning going on; a reinforcement, which made the students keep doing it. Have educational institutions become so cheap that instead of teaching the students to work hard and earn themselves a sweet fruit-sincere success, they have been taught that there is an easy way out, by becoming  “chamcha” (a flattersome little follower or pet) of the teachers. Is it not how one learns to be corrupt? Does it mean, there is a lacuna in our education system; that children are taught to become corrupt rather than to become a responsible citizen? I do not mean education system has failed or all institutions are like this, but there has been a trend that many teachers follow, which in the long run teaches the students something which is dangerous for themselves as well as the society. While the teachers may be doing it consciously or not, it has an impact on young students, making them think and follow the easy way out. I have also seen lots of teachers, who have taught me valuable life lessons that I remember and will remember forever. They are inspirations. This is my point. Either your approach is decent or scheming; the students are watching and following. In one way or the other, you are responsible. However what bothers me again and again is whether school is the only place for the children to learn; to get socialised; to get conditioned? I do not think so.

Eye-contact- girls vs boys…

It was during one of the KHEL sessions, the boys and girls were asked to stand facing each other and maintain eye contact with the opposite person. I observed that the girls were equally able to maintain eye-contact, and if I may judge, they perform better. Only few of the boys were able to maintain eye-contact with the girls. Or even while playing games, the girls do perform as well as boys. It makes me wonder, what must have gone wrong that at a point of time, girls in our society started feeling inferior to boys. Have they been conditioned? Is it our culture? Is it how the children are socialized? To make the boys think and act as if they were superior to girls and girls to be inferior. Maybe you have your answer there. I do believe in equality and equity, but had I been given a chance to debate and be in favour of girls…my argument would be that girls are more superior or ought to be, as they possess something EXTRA which boys don’t posses, i.e., a womb. They have more responsibility, or in my own word, MORE POWER!

Socialization at home

It is my inexperience that has me talking more about problems than about solutions. To opine, if each and every individual is made aware and made to understand the depth of the word “socialization”, the place we live in would become a better one. I have a strong belief (though unscientific but just a belief) that if you give birth and bring up a child in a conditioned environment, wherein you laugh when you are sad and cry when you are happy, the child will be conditioned to exhibit the same response. My point is: Have a closer look at socialization, and critically analyse it. Whether in school, home or wherever it maybe, watch your every word and deed, because you are being watched; because you are conditioning; because you are helping a child socialize. I could remember a story narrated by one speaker in a congregation I attended, in which a child, after seeing his father smoking time and again, asked his father if he could smoke too. As any father would, he objected, to which the son replied, “Ok, I will smoke when I reach your age”. Whatever you say or do, you are setting norms for someone, somewhere, which you don’t even realize.

Words are not enough to express the depth of meaning I have found, of Socialization. May every observation we make question WHY? HOW?..and in the process help us become a responsible citizen; a change agent.