Unseen Passage: What Children Learn in School

It is common knowledge that school children are under great pressure to perform well in all fields, study ten subjects, play games and develop an impressive image. How do they manage? The skills, techniques and principles which they pick up while still young help them cope.

Two of twentieth century’s finest minds have lamented that schools are not teaching the basics of personal excellence or the science of success. Edward De Bono: “Almost all of what a child learns at school after the age of ten is totally irrelevant to his need in later life. Most schools do not teach thinking at all.” The serious thesis of this article is that management must be taught as a school subject. The weightiest argument is that children are managers.

Many of children are called upon to play directly three of the interpersonal roles: “Figurehead”, “Leader” and “Liaison Officer”. They do this while assisting teachers as monitors or class representatives or group leaders during educational tours and field work; while captaining teams on playgrounds; and while leading teams in quiz, debating and other competitions. Many more play these roles as surrogates.

The decision role of “Entrepreneur” and “Resource Allocator” may only occasionally be assigned to children. However, it is worth noting that according to a recent survey in Delhi, a monthly allocation of up to Rs. 1000 is available as pocket money to school children. Therefore, school children too need to have control over money and develop a sense of budget. If we add to these financial resources, the resources of time, information and intellect available to children, the first two decision roles are not irrelevant to them.

Children play the other two decision roles: “Disturbance Handler” and “Negotiator” more often. True, the international roles of “monitor”, “disseminator” and “spokesman” are not so frequently and formally engaged in by children as by CEOs, MDs, Vice Presidents and other adult managers.

If you cannot see children as managers, they are managers in the making: Many of the management habits (e.g., using a to-do list), management skills (e.g. sensitive listening), management attitudes and values are formed early in life. Personality theorists believe that it is extremely difficult to change personality traits, styles of thinking and habits of behaviour once these are formed.

As in language learning, where basic aspects of language like pronunciation and rhythm are extremely resistant to learning after puberty, good management habits, attitudes and values are difficult to acquire in adulthood. In the fifties, even in the educationally advanced countries such as the US, Algebra was thought to be too abstract to be taught even in senior schools. Now it is taught from upper primary classes onwards in both educationally progressive and developing countries. Computer skills, lateral thinking and swimming, often felt to be forbidden by adults are easily learnt by children. In fact, both research evidence and specialists’ beliefs strongly support the view that children’s ability to learn skills like swimming and creative thinking is much more developed than adults. Equally important, complex organisms (a) learn what is necessary or pleasurable and (b) adapt themselves in ways that will serve their needs and interests with amazing enthusiasm, ease and effectiveness.

Q. On the basis of your reading of the above passage, answer the following questions by choosing the correct option given below:

  1. The reason of pressure on children is:
    1. common knowledge
    2. absence of skills
    3. choice between studies and games
    4. performance demand in all fields
  2. What according to few educationists is lacking in school teaching?
    1. Basics of personal excellence
    2. Science of success
    3. Thinking
    4. All of the above
  3. The sense of budget among children is an indication towards their capability of performing:
    1. interpersonal role
    2. decision role
    3. leading role
    4. informational role
  4. The article advocates teaching ___________ as a subject in school.
    1. management
    2. creative Thinking
    3. computer skills
    4. swimming
  5. Which word in Para 7 is opposite in meaning of “Concrete”?
    1. Algebra
    2. acquire
    3. resistant
    4. abstract
  6. The terms used for a detailed critical inspection/study in Para 4 is:
    1. intellect
    2. resource Allocator
    3. survey
    4. budget


  1. performance demand in all fields
  2. All of the above
  3. decision role
  4. management
  5. abstract
  6. survey

Q. Answer the following questions briefly:

  1. The skills, ___________ and ___________ which they pick up while still young help them cope.
  2. The weightiest argument is that children are ___________ .
  3. Many more play these role as ___________ .
  4. The first two decision roles are not ___________ to them.
  5. Which word in the above passage means the same as
    1. Regretted’ (Para 2)
    2. ’officially’ (Para 5)


  1. techniques and principles
  2. managers
  3. surrogates
  4. irrelevant
  5. lamented
  6. formally

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