Data Science for children

A platform for parents to access parameters of evaluation, input their own parameters and plot the child’s progress can help big

By Author Ramakrishna Prasad, Swaminathan SB   |   Published: 13th Jan 2018   12:01 am Updated: 13th Jan 2018   4:35 pm

Let’s now look at the other side. Data science is the way to go even for your child and what you need is an engaging platform to connect with a team of good data scientists. Data scientists are those who use all scientific tools to work with data.

Most of the steps in designing data science solutions are cognitive in nature. The stronger the cognitive power, the better the solution will turn out. The ability to use cognitive power depends on:

• Very good understanding of what we are planning to analyse. In this case, it’s the child. Our belief is that the parents know the child better, any day and better than anyone. Unless you are the type who believes in outsourcing the child’s education

• Ability to think creatively especially when choosing ways for engaging with the child. This is where the school’s inputs matter the most and at home, parents should look beyond handing over the children iPad, YouTube access or computer games and involve with the children

• Ability to communicate effectively with the child. With the changing times both schools and parents having made inroads into this area that was not so easy even 10 years ago

Know Child Better

The pattern that’s emerging is very clear. Parents and the school together know the child better. The school has a tried and tested way of evaluating the child. The parents by themselves may have their own tools of evaluation but nothing documented.

This is a something that they should start designing internally because there shouldn’t be any gap in understanding the child. An error in judgement at any stage may prove fatal. Something that the child doesn’t deserve. Both the parties involved may have to find a way to reach consensus on this matter.

Clearly, this may be added pressure to the school as they have to work with every child, but we think the schools will be willing to clock the extra mile for their wards. But the leadership for this initiative wrests clearly with the parents. This is not to be outsourced or compromised upon.

This is still not a final indicator because the child is not mapped against the others in a bigger universe or against the final goal the parents may have set for the child or in cases where the child may have set his or her own goals.

The need of the hour is a platform where parents have access to the parameters of evaluation or a place where they can input their own parameters and plot the child’s progress against a larger universe of students from multiple disciplines and socio-economic background.

Capturing Unique Data

In the book The Magical Child, Joseph Chilton Pearce talks of how the child is forced to learn whatever is there from a very early stage. We are in some way or the other guilty of doing this too. He feels that for the child the world is a playground, and nothing should interfere with the child. Left like that the child will grow up to fulfil his or her potential.

The way to monitor children with all the experiences they face is an iterative process and there are no well-defined templates here. As a matter of fact, this is a unique case in the true sense because every child is different. This has to be the null hypothesis. Unless we do that, we will not be able to capture all the attributes the child may possess.

Though not accustomed to, parents will start looking into the finer aspects of their children and will begin to start documenting too. That is the most difficult part.

Once that is done, it’s more than half the battle won. By doing so, what parents are creating is a huge data set of children and their behavioural aspects. For any data science problem to be effective, data is key. Offering the tools and techniques on a scale is a non-issue.

Platform with Potential

We are extremely happy to share that there is indeed such a platform for Indian children with interesting insights and visualisation. Though in a nascent stage, the platform offers immense potential for parents looking to monitor their children with latest scientific tools and techniques.

If parents and schools use the platform to inject more value by means of data, the platform can be optimised and scaled to be the point of reference and discussion for the parent and the child.

What’s amazing is that the children will have a larger canvas to place themselves and look at how the world around them is moving. A caveat — this should not be used to put more pressure on the child but to help her discover how she is relatively placed.

We have seen initial resistance but then over a period of time with pragmatic thinking one is sure to overcome the resistance and be part of a truly self-fulfilling journey. From buying tickets in railway stations and airlines, we have moved online and we are now buying groceries and clothes online.

Adaptability to change, ability to think independently, leveraging latest technology as means to arrive at the solution, being smart enough to know when to seek help from the machines are some of the skills that the children may need for the future.

While educationalists and psychologists are better equipped to throw more light on the additional skills required, our sole objective is to trigger a radical change in thought process in the parents’ mindsets and empower them to prepare the child with lifeskills for a very successful Human-Intelligent Machine era.

– Concluded

(Ramakrishna Prasad is a freelance data scientist; ramakrishnaprasadnori@gmail.com, with inputs from Swaminathan SB, a startup mentor; swamisb@gmail.com)

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