BANDAN PREET MAHAJAN, FOUNDER, GENIUS EDUTORIAL
Amidst all the psychic, physical and financial trauma and turbulence so caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, as an educator I feel, there is something which we could have helped with in the past and something which we can help with once everything gets back to normal. There are several life skills and values which we probably in the rush to finish with the academic syllabus forgot to teach our kids, few basic principles of life which they ought to have imbibed by now as teens and adults but sadly haven’t. This has brought out certain loopholes in our education system which we need to take care of once we are back to our robust self. After a lot of insight that followed several days of introspection and self reflection during the self isolation period in the wake of the pandemic, I have come up with a list of values we ought to inculcate in our children (who are going to be our future generation) and seek help from their parents/ guardians for the same. Perhaps, then they will not repeat the mistakes we and our previous generations made. So here it goes........
Patience: Our Gen Y is actually born with a silver spoon in the mouth. What I mean is that in most cases, children are pampered so much that they name it and they have it ready on a golden platter. Similarly, we as parents and educators want kids to be quick and smart learners. Who has time for patience to reap sweet returns of one’s toil? Well, isn’t that precisely the reason why it was so very difficult to keep children at home during this time? As a matter of fact, even a few adults were seen flouting the rules openly putting everyone’s lives at risk.
Empathy: During Janta curfew and days of lockdown and curfew that followed, several people were seen on the roads and streets as could be observed through various social media platforms. Obviously we had forgotten to teach our children empathy, they could not realise how it felt to suffer in pain and disease since it was happening to others and not them or their dear ones. Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches but then, we could definitely learn what it is to be in someone else’s shoes. We ought to make our kids learn a lesson or two on empathy.
Civic Sense: When I look down from the balcony of my home, I see used masks thrown away without proper disposal. Perhaps we forgot to teach our children the basics of living sensibly in community. Does the adage, ‘Love thy neighbour’ no longer prevail? Are we rearing a generation of self centered and self obsessed individuals?
Planning for the Future: As the news of the virus was fast spreading, the wise came to understand that it was time to save for the future, but then there is a huge difference between planning to save and selfishly hoarding things. Soon the markets were out of stock for sanitizers and masks. We had perhaps forgotten to teach our children, now adults, the basic ethical principle of sharing is caring which is why they forgot to learn the distinction between rational planning and irrational and selfish hoarding.
Gratitude: Had we taught our children gratitude, they would have on their own accord realised the supreme service that our doctors, nurses, paramedics, police, army, health care workers and other front line workers are offering to society and we would not have seen people carelessly loitering on the roads without once realising that they could possibly be adding to their already herculean burden in the future by putting more lives at risk including their own.
Obedience: A group of teenagers were seen loitering on the streets of the vicinity. When I contacted the mother of one of them, she sadly remarked that much as she tried to keep him at home, the teen was just not willing to follow her advice. Is it so important to play cool dude by defying all elderly advice however foolish you may look or sound? Did we not teach them well enough the importance of following, respecting and obeying their elder’s advice?
Bonding with family members: As an educator, it pains my heart when parents call up to tell me that their kids are spending way too much time on screen during this lockdown period. It also pains equally when some parents come up with queries as to when I would be commencing classes for the new session since they want good riddance from their kids who are troubling them at home. Well, is it so difficult for a family to sit together and engage in some humorous or fruitful conversation? It seems social distancing on account of social media has already had its heavy toll on familial relations and obviously this means our children need to learn virtues of tolerance, kindness and compassion as well.
Scientific Temper: It was indeed disappointing to have received several WhatsApp forwards and FB posts pertaining to illogical ways of getting rid of the virus, so called self proclaimed brave hearts meandering out in the world believing they are stronger than the virus. Guess, we were not able to inculcate ample scientific temper and rational outlook among our students! Why would they otherwise follow some random Corona Baba or flout advisories issued by various government agencies from time to time. They were unable to comprehend the gravity of the problem.
Sensitivity towards Environment: It is obviously and sadly true that we were unable to develop appropriate sensitivity towards the environment through our education system. No wonder, our students never understood that survival of different species is based on the principle of cohabitation, co- existence and partnership and not just mere exploitation to mark our supremacy over the world and its creatures.
As an educator, I beseech the concerned authorities to give way to a new and compulsory module of Value Education and Life Skills as an intrinsic part of school curricula. Happiness Curriculum is a good beginning but we need to endeavour a lot more. We need to develop our students holistically through a combination of experiential and naturalistic learning.... learning that prepares them not just for the real world but also ensures that they are spiritually edified, morally upright, environmentally sensitive and socially responsible as global citizens. We also need to inculcate in them a spirit of compassion for the community and service to mankind so that they are not just successful in this materialistic world but also lead purpose driven lives that go way beyond self love alone.