The education system (particularly where I live) is focused on one thing – ratings, scorings, and the number game. We are a lot that gives high emphasis to education (that’s great) with grades being of utmost importance. (Sports? That can wait!)
We are proud to travel overseas and earn foreign currency. We mug up the textbooks, learn our diagrams, perfect our communication skills, be an ace at recitals, and whatnot.
Why blame others? I was a part of this race myself. Our education system is hard-wired to make you feel good after the reward of the “1st rank.” We beam with pride as the thumps on our back validate our efforts. “Good job! You are so intelligent!” We long to hear those words.
But, there is something missing in the education system as well as our homes.
The need to connect with our surroundings with equal respect, gratitude, and love for each other. The recent incident of the death of the elephant in Kerala due to the consumption of a pineapple filled with crackers has shaken up the country. There have been numerous protests by people who have condemned the act. The story has been twisted multiple times. The chaos continues, the arguments and the debates will continue until the topic is forgotten.
What are we doing so that this doesn’t repeat again?
Why go deep into the forests of Kerala? Even now, I see children in Indian cities show disrespect towards animals. Parents do not do a thing when a child pulls a tail of a dog, hurls a kitten, or plays around with a stray with utter disrespect. Parents may even laugh and join in. In most cases, these children are unattended or with a nanny who is busy video-calling on her high-end smartphone. Nobody thinks of offering a small bite of food from their already filled plates to a hungry animal or even a person in need. (Why bother, right?) Parents walk around proudly pulling a pedigree dog on a leash as rescue animals silently await for the one day when their proud owner will take them home.
We, as humans, think we are entitled. We think we own the planet and others need to pay us the rent of existing. We can learn to co-exist if we imbibe these values early on.
Compassion for self and others is the need of the hour.
What is compassion?
The dictionary defines it as the sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortune of others. So, instead of pulling each other, let’s stop ignoring the pain and do something about it. It’s about taking one small step in the society you live in. Maybe, you can help a stray animal. Form a group to work towards a common cause. Self-compassion is also important as it cultivates the feelings of kindness, humanity as well as the practice of mindfulness.
I’m all for literacy. I also support education. But, what I see today are children burdened with the constant need to cram information in their young minds. A 6-year old being able to use a laptop is applauded. But, the same 6-year old kicking an animal just for fun is ignored.
This is where the inherent problem lies. This is not about the diet you eat, which college you attend, and how many certificates you have.
Is this literacy? Is this education? Honestly? I am looking for an education system that brings focus on the following:
- Compassion for self and others
- Equal respect to all gender, living beings, knowing the importance of consent
- Building the ability to be a better decision-maker
- Being responsible for self and others
- Introducing subjects with a strong focus on mental health to combat stress, anxiety. Sharing important concepts of psychology tailor-made for young minds.
- Knowing how to overcome bullying
- Subjects that include knowing and defining ethics
- The awareness of over-consumption – knowing when greed takes over
When at least some of the above requirements are met, I’d say maybe a child is 100% literate and educated to take care of himself/herself as well as their surroundings.
Why do I write that?
Because we need humans who are –
- Growing up to be compassionate
- Learning to be responsible
- Have a deeper knowledge about themselves and their emotions
- Are aware of the boundaries between need and greed
- Know that we need each other to balance the ecosystem
- Display a sense of empathy towards all
We need all this to be included in the curriculum – in our homes as well as schools. Most importantly, we need a chapter in humanity.
Till then, we can continue our obsession over textbooks and the number game and keep applauding the process of turning humans into robots.
How much are you willing to do to raise responsible humans? How important is compassion to you? I’d like to know in the comments below.