Riding a cycle is one of the finest and purest skills that we as kids were introduced to. It had everything. From the uncertainty of our next fall to the joy of breezing past our streets. We fumbled and balanced.
Learning to ride a cycle was also one of the most intense connections we might have shared with our fathers or a guardian. But the journey had begun much before we were gifted our first cycles.
Crayon called Tricycle
Among every child, first, 'big' toy was a tricycle. That machine you rode all over the home. Pressing the horn made you feel important and the ruckus you created gave you enough attention to be a young emerging narcissist.
Those are the early formative years for the love of all things moving. This resonates with a child's early developmental stages. The tricycle is the Pre Primary of the young learner. This early three wheeler represents a crayon that would soon be an important tool in the learning years ahead.
Enigma of a Simple cycle
A cycle is only next to Henry Ford's T model cars in revolutionizing the way we move. Yet, we have underrated this invention in most of our education circles.
A cycle epitomizes one of the easiest assemblies that it powerfully functional. It's like a simple machine from your physics class turning into a Transformer. Two wheels, a crossbar for handle, pedals, and brake. What better exposure for a child to the world of automobiles and mobility than an ordinary cycle.
Several schools have used this make of a cycle into their trans-disciplinary classrooms. In one of the best documentary made on project-based learning titled The Bike's Path, a cycle is at the center.
History of bicycles teaches language, alignment of wheels is a lesson plan on mathematics and pulley, friction and balance is a class on science. Stamina and discipline make the cyclist an able sportsperson while designing the model itself is a very engaging arts and craft lesson.
The First Lesson - Let go
Every cyclist had a unique experience while learning the trades for the first time. I remember mine. My father running wildly behind me and holding the rim to ensure I go steady.
My own experience with my daughters has been special. I learned with my eldest that she wouldn't learn unless I let go of the cycle. While I didn't want her to fall, she had to let go of the fear of falling. And so did I!
This is true of schooling as well. At our recently concluded sports day, I watched with disdain some of the mothers hovering around their child. Their point was not encouragement but protection from failure. They argued that their child was second and not third. They asked for re-races because their kid failed to qualify. They complained that the noise was loud and their child could not hear the whistle. Or the whistle was too low and they failed to start early. They were judges, referee, scorekeepers and everything under the sun. They failed to let go of the cycle!
The BAT exams (Bicycle Aptitude Test)
After all the joys of learning to ride a cycle, the challenges and pitfalls that come with it, imagine turning it into a regimented examination.
Borrowing a leaf from Ted Dintersmith's book 'Most Likely to Succeed', think of cycling, not as a hobby but a career choice. To qualify to be able to ride a cycle or not, you need to pass the dreaded BAT exam.
Imagine if our schools were responsible for teaching our kids how to ride a bicycle. The process of teaching would involve lecturing and be solving worksheets from the textbooks. Students would stay up late memorizing the names of various components of a bicycle. There will be a unit test and they will be given negative points for getting the number of gears wrong on a mountain cycle. Some students would excel after memorizing all the parts of the cycle while others would struggle. No one would, however, ever ride a bicycle.
The ordeal would not stop here. To get accepted into a top-level bicycle college, the students will have to appear for the BAT (Bicycle Aptitude Test). Students will prepare the weekends and summer vacations studying for the BAT exams. There will be coaching classes which will promise admissions to the best of the bicycle universities.
After all the examinations and the chaos, nation-wide breaking news will tell us that we're still far behind South Asian countries like Singapore and South Korea. Although none of these countries would have produced any great bicycle riders or any Cyclist Olympians. They will be debate and a new list of education reforms made by our education board.
In conclusion, the kids will hate all aspects of riding a bicycle. They will perhaps be able to tell everything about a bicycle but never ever look forward to riding one.
Thankfully this is just a very wild and wicked imagination and not a reality. We can still see children finding joy in riding the simple machine. However the same cannot be seen and said of a current education system.
The fall from grace of Lance Armstrong
The great but disgraced Lance Armstrong's autobiography says it all, 'It's not about the Bike.'
What would such kind of system lead to? It’s only apt to remind ourselves of the fall from grace of the legendary Lance Armstrong. A cancer survivor, founder of LiveStrong charity, and seven times winner of yellow Jersey, Lance Armstrong was to cycling what Usain Bolt is to athletics or Christiano Ronaldo to football. Only that he failed to live up to the ethics.
While earning his coveted titles and yellow Jersey at the Tour de France, the most grueling cycle race in the world, he couldn't cope with the intense competition. Thus he took to drugs. He cheated his way up. He messed it up. Lance Armstrong was stripped of all his titles. He failed the BAT test of life.
Take care of your young learners. Develop their attitudes before they take the questionable aptitude test. And yes, let go of the cycle.
About the Author
The author Dawood Vaid has completed the certificate course on 'Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills' by The University of Melbourne. He has developed capsules using the 21st-century skills under the organization Sky Education. The capsules integrate various subjects from Maths, Science, Languages, ICT, and Arts. The themes range from FIFA’s Football fever to Fun with Newton. To know more visit website or email [email protected]