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Build, Assess, Remedy, Proceed

Have you seen how a Barp, or a mound of stones, stands balanced elegantly? Also known as a cairn, a barp takes mindfulness to build.

These beautiful stone towers mean different things to different people. To me they signify the mindfulness, calmness, effort and time we must invest into building each stable layer of a strong relationship or for conceptual learning.

Defective Constructions WILL Fall Down

Our education system puts in a lot of effort and resources into teaching things to students. Then it puts in even more effort and resources into assessing how much the students have learned. And then prepares detailed report cards of those assessments. And then instead of spending a few weeks on addressing the specific lacunae that led each student to be unable to solve something of that level, the system promptly proceeds to the next level or part of the syllabi. WHY???

Those who talk about the lack of feasibility, manpower and monetary resources about such a individualized remedial fortnight before continuing to higher levels, please consider - (1) the cost of remedying the lack of proper foundation at a later stage using special tutorials, (2) the societal, national, global and personal cost of learning with missing key concepts and weak foundations, (3) the cost of the coaching classes people are willing to spend on.

Quality vs Quantity

Those who talk about the vastness of the syllabi and the lack of time to carry out such a strategy, please use logic and answer whether it is good to learn well, even if 10% less than what is scheduled for a year, OR to not learn 50% of all that is scheduled and go on to the next level?

Instead of doing 7 subjects and new things for 2 weeks, I am talking about, clearing doubts not before exams, but after exams, based on problems faced in the assessments, for those subjects and only those areas.

Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy that offers tutorials on various subjects to 42 million registered users from 190 countries, talks about this point in this engrossing TED talk.

My request to parents is, don't do as the education system does.

Build, Assess, Remedy and then Proceed - B-A-R-P


Teach your child new things by linking to existing knowledge.

How is a scaffold made? A scaffold is a temporary structure used to support a work crew and materials to aid in the construction, maintenance and repair of buildings, bridges, etc. One level is prepared and the next level is prepared while standing on that first level.

Don't introduce too many new things out of context. Link new things to familiar things, explain, practice and build new knowledge.


Assess regularly how much your child has understood and how much the child is able to apply to solving problems. Make assessments fun times from the start, including the school assessments. If you convey that exams are things to be feared and be stressed about, that is what the child will learn for life. If you convey that exams are fun times, they will learn to use the assessment proactively.

GAMIFY EXAMS. Why (and how) are exams fun exactly? Exams are fun because - (1) they offer a break from the routine, we can use new pencils reserved for exams, new erasers, a special clipboard, and special worksheets. (2) they often offer a special timing different from routine timings, that is a cause for celebration! (3) After the exams, we can have fun counting or putting stamps or stickers on the answers. (4) Exam times can also be celebrated by special food, and a special activity or outing after the exam is over. (5) Exams can also be fun because sometimes the child can also make a test for the parent and the parent must solve it.


After you identify the problem areas in the child's learning from your own assessment or the school's assessment, list these points and name them something optimistic and proactive like To-Do, Need More Practice, etc. Do not get carried away by the labels that make the child sound B grade, instead of labeling the areas where the learning is still unfinished. Use the next few days to address these areas instead of proceeding to the new topics even if the school demands that at this age, the child is supposed to be doing this. This is the most crucial part of building a strong foundation that will last a lifetime.


Then you can proceed to the next level, but make sure to follow the same steps for each level. This way, when the child is 10 years old or so and starts self-study totally on their own, they are already used to proceeding in this way, each time strengthening each layer before moving on to the next.

It is a constant refrain from parents of kids in middle or high school complaining that the school is moving too fast, my child's concepts are not clear in fractions or algebra or biology or optics or organic chemistry, and so on. Let the beautiful cairns of stones always remind you of the need to remedy before you proceed. If we follow the B-A-R-P system, we will build stronger foundations of education for the new generation.

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