Mark Twain once rightly wrote,” I have never let my schooling interfere with my education”. Strange as it may sound this quote has taken on a new relevance today . Formal school education today undoubtedly gears kids to be brilliant in their careers and make the sort of money our parents only dreamt about. But in the whole rat race ‘education’ as a means of developing a more evolved individual sadly seems to have taken a back seat.
The whole idea of formal education was to make children more open to new learning and thereby inculcate values like tolerance, consideration for others, politeness, civic sense and a sense of responsibility. Which is why I cringe every time I see young students go on a rampage while showing their displeasure about various issues and destroy public property without a thought.
All the time we were trying to teach kids to be competitive and be winners, we forgot to teach them a little decency while dealing with competition. Today their only focus is to get ahead of the others by hook or by crook, stepping on others backs and bending any number of rules in the process—-because the end justifies the means.
May be we should redesign the education system so that our children should learn a basic human skill –to be nice to others and learn to adjust and accommodate others. School curricula has managed to overlook this dire need to teach restraint to our youngsters. After all man is a social animal and needs to co-inhabit this planet in harmony with others. In trying to express their individuality they must learn to respect others ‘ individuality too. Education should also focus on teaching this generation peaceful, amiable co-existence—living with quirks of others, sharing their space with those less fortunate or less intellectual than themselves. Otherwise we can look forward to a whole new generation of extremely selfish, goal oriented, opportunist youngsters who think nothing of stepping over others’space, abusing peers, seniors, teachers, parents, taking advantage those less aggressive than them and bullying subordinates, siblings and domestic helpers.
The growing rate of crime by educated youth is alarming. Incidents of burglaries, jewellery snatching, rapes, bullying are increasing. In fact even the growth in the rate of divorces and failed relationships would justify the claim that somewhere education has failed to inculcate the basic skill of controlling our negative emotions, more specifically –anger. Try giving advice to a teenager and they promptly put you in your place. Criticism is not acceptable and is seen as a deep insult evoking, passionate responses. Faced with an unpleasant situation they either sink into depression, often taking drastic steps, or else become hyper -active , venting their emotions by bullying juniors and insulting parents and teachers.
It’s time we designed a special course in schools to teach basic human skills
Such as :
1) Living harmoniously in a family or school set up.
2) Dealing with unpleasant/ unexpected/ disappointing situations.
3) Expressing anger in a non -violent way.
4) Competing in a fair manner with due respect to peers.
5) Respect other’s space while expressing their individuality.
6) Being responsible for their actions and have respect for property.
7) Learning to sometimes give in to others and not assert their own will –sometimes it can give immense pleasure specially to those who love them
8) Learn gratitude and express it. To not take parents and friends for granted.
9) They can be effective leaders only when they have an emotional connect with their team.
10) When they are trying to win they should also learn how to lose with grace.
11) And this is perhaps most important and most difficult as well— Learning to accept when they are wrong and to apologize.
My point is that education should teach us not only how to lead but also how to follow and respect authority; how to work as a team player; how to co-exist with people we may not like, and most importantly —to learn restraint and try to be genuinely nice to those around us.