When Education is Fun for Kids, Their Ultimate Potential is Realised | Lina Ashar

“My whole calling was about creating impact, about a change. If somebody tells me how would you measure your life? Whether it was a life worth living? It’ll be about when I die would the world be a little kinder, a little gentler, or a little wiser? If it is with whatever role I could play in that, then I could say I have lived a meaningful, worthy life.”

Lina Ashar, Founder of Kangaroo Kids & Billabong High, is an educator seeking out innovation. She is on a journey to change the face of education in India by replacing the archaic ways of complacency with bold creativity, wholesome knowledge and imbibing curiosity.

Born and brought up in Australia, Lina first came to India on a year-long sabbatical from college to discover her culture, heritage and Indian roots. The allure of motherland and family brought her here for the first time but her purpose and love for teaching made India her new home. On her year-long sabbatical, Lina was teaching at a very prestigious school in Juhu, Mumbai. That’s when the education system of India tugged her heartstrings because it was there that she witnessed the “total robbery of childhood.” The passionate educationist further adds, “It was almost like kids being in jail. The only difference is that they were getting an academic outcome,”

“The minute you stop children (from) questioning anything, you fail them.”

Lina asserts that a child should be full of curiosities and questions. She says a compliance-based education system clips the wings of curiosity of a child. She shares an anecdote from her life to elucidate the vitality of questioning and curiosity.

“I have had a child come to me and say: Ms Lina, your learning system is very bad. I asked him why do you think so and he pointed out that you teach gender equality in classrooms but our school dairy says that the boys have to cut their hair to keep them short but the girls get to keep long hair. I was shaken. I had no answer. So, I said I’ll change the rule and the diary.” She further adds, in a compliance-based system, the child wouldn’t have questioned me, hence, it’d have not given him the sense of equality and the confidence to question the status quo.

Lina believes that kids display signs of their skill and knack for something with their interest in a particular thing during the early stages of their life. If they go on to build a career in that field then they’ll be intrinsically motivated, which will result in their overall well-being. Recalling an incident from her childhood, she shares that her mother observed her six-year-old self always playing with the kids that were younger than her. “She first thought that there was something mentally wrong with me, but later she realised that I wasn’t playing with the two-year-olds or three-year-olds, I was actually teaching them, telling them stories and engaging them in play. So my natural bent as a teacher was seen very early on,” adds Lina.

“I have lived my life largely by following universal signs. It’s something I felt since I was a child that I have a very strong destiny, I’m protected and the universe will give me signs of where I’m supposed to go.”

Channelising the power of positivity and purpose, Lina says that she sought to make difference in the world through her three preferred mediums of education, media and writing, and as fate would have it, she accomplished in touching many lives through all three mediums. The founder of Kangaroo Kids and Billabong high has also authored two books called “Who Do You Think You Are Kidding” and the “Drama Teen”. Now, she employs the use of media in creating a Parenting Portal that aims to enlighten parents on the emotional and mental stages of a child’s growth to assure the right form of education. Adding introspectively, she elucidates, “I actually have travelled through all three journeys to meet that one purpose in my life.”

“My real vision and mission of what I want to do for a child is to ignite the greatness he has got inside him.”

She says if we nurture children with the right mindset and education system then their journey of life would be a wonderful one. “It will not be fraught with fear, but with abundance, hope, curiosity, creativity and all the positive things our heart and soul yearns for,” adds Lina. She believes that children should be inspired and nurtured with intrinsic motivation so that they can persist for what they want in life. She further adds, “when your desire and purpose for what you want to do is very strong then you don’t need any extrinsic motivation.”

The recipe of success that Lina follows is a “step-by-step vision”.  She expounds further that “my first step was to change the face of education in India, so I started working towards that, then I want to be the Harley of schools and now my vision statement is to reach every child, not just in India, but every child around the world that wants a personalised, exciting system of learning.”

Headed on her Harley of schools, in a journey to imbue children with love, learning, interpersonal and intrapersonal capabilities, Lina Ashar aims to reform the education system with her innovative approach.

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