Nurturing happy children…
Let’s nurture happy children in schools. Let’s work upon a holistic system wherein the children’s intrinsic needs are satiated, inherent talents are flourished, their health and mental wellbeing is taken care of and their souls are enriched; where each and every experience transacts into deeper understanding and results in true learning; where they have liberty to set their own challenges and time limits to scale them with inner discipline and enthusiasm.
India is presently slated to be in 122 position in the Happiness Index among countries all over the world. In my opinion, the richness of resources, economic stability and cultural diversity do not play an important role in the happiness index of a country. Happiness is also known to be a state of mind; it has to do with the attitude and emotional stability of people rather than wealth, money or for that matter anything materialistic. In last few decades our country has progressed immensely in all aspects of consumerism, there is a paradigm shift in our way of life, value systems and mindsets. Essentially we were a society which believed in humanism in the true sense.
The following famous hymn from RigVeda sums it all:
Which means, “May you move in harmony, speak in one voice; let your minds be in agreement; just as the ancient gods shared their portion of sacrifice. May our purpose be the same; may we all be of one mind. In order for such unity to form I offer a common prayer. May our intentions and aspirations be alike, so that a common objective unifies us all. It means let us progress (proceed or move on) together. The essence is the emphasis on the unity of minds to create healthy powerful organizations for prosperity and happiness of all and to promote fellow feeling and righteousness.”
How happiness gets affected?
We believed in sharing whatever we had with not only people but with animals too. Every family traditionally used to keep food aside for birds and animals before the food was served to its members. Sharing was a way of life no one was turned away from your door. Whatever you had, you shared with people around you. Today the tides have turned; somehow everyone has become self-centered and is pursuing dreams of more and more acquisition of trappings which showcase one’s status in the society. In this scenario of accumulation at every step and one upmanship on the social media, families are breaking up, societal norms are diluting by the day, and value systems are almost on the brink of non-existence. Success is measured by one’s materialistic display. The gap between have and have nots is widening by the day.
The Happiness Index of a country has direct relationship to psychological wellbeing of her people, hence, in my view, this incessant rat race, pressure of being successful at all costs, lack of education, poverty of thought and diminishing social values are responsible for the current situation that we are in.
How education affects happiness?
Education can play a big role in transforming the current status quo only if radical and crucial steps are taken to undergo a major revamping of curriculum, pedagogical and examination reform. The system which enforces children to lose out on their childhood in pursuit of cut throat competition at a very young age creating unnecessary stress and depression can never help children to be happy. They are lost somewhere under the burden of the parental aspirations and the pressure to perform because their education makes huge demands on their parents’ purse. Besides peer pressure plays a dominant role, leave aside children, the adults have succumbed to it too.
How schools can nurture happy children?
If we want happy children, schools have to be a happy place for them to come to…the place where they feel safe, secure and most of all wanted. The schools will have to change, not in terms of infrastructure, but in terms of the philosophy and value systems that all children are unique and have a right to learn in collaboration with their teachers and peers. Inclusivity and equity at every level should be interwoven in its curriculum framework. Diversity of religion, caste, creed, language, cultures and faith have to be dealt with sensitivity and respect. We should also work upon a holistic system wherein the children’s intrinsic needs are satiated, inherent talents are flourished, their health and mental wellbeing is taken care of and their souls are enriched; where each and every experience transacts into deeper understanding and results in true learning; where they have liberty to set their own challenges and time limits to scale them with inner discipline and enthusiasm. The GOAL of education should be understanding and learning in the true sense. If the curricular and examination reform can incorporate individualized learning and testing system where skills, aptitudes and values are also given equal weightage, their perspectives are given due importance and give them freedom in the pursuit of their choices. It provides an environment of mutual respect and trust, stimulating intellectual ambience we should be able to do away with so many pressure plugs that hang on children’s head. I believe in freedom with responsibility and have seen many a student change their attitude if we give them freedom and have faith in them.
It’s high time that the Teachers Training Courses should be looked in to. Pedagogy should be given more importance rather than the subjects which add no value to a teacher’s performance when he/she enters a classroom. The courses that are currently taught in our training institutes are mostly obsolete, redundant and do not play any positive role in preparing the teachers for the actual work that they are expected to do .
Technological awareness and its judicious usage in every sphere of our lives is another aspect that should be an essential aspect of curriculum design in future schools. Cyber security rules as well as self-discipline which helps in discretionary usage will have to be taught to make the children understand the fallacies of virtual world.
Schools will have to play a very crucial role in the society as well. They will have to be more accessible for the stakeholders wherein the parental guidance, workshops, orientations, open forums, discussions and interactions should be held in transparent and respectful manner. Empathy and collaboration should be the core values of schools that will have positive effect on the parents and society in the due course of time. If we can do this and make our schools a happy place to unfold their potentials not only for our children but also for the stakeholders the happiness index of future generations will surely be higher than what it is today.
I might be sounding utopian but I am an eternal optimist as I believe in individual child’s spirit and qualities more than her current report card. And I know that we can bring respect, empathy, courage, conviction and faith into our children’s lives by giving them core values, skills and wings to soar high in the sky!
Kalpana Chaudhary is a teacher by choice since 1972. She has helped set up 3 schools and considers herself a life long learner. She is a people’s person and an ideal team builder. She has a Post Graduate Degree in English Literature and Education. Presently, she is Instructional Mentor /Director at N.H. Goel World School, Raipur.