By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Only an education that can nourish inbuilt virtues can impart true intelligence. Today, it is the concern of every parent that their children should grow up to be well-educated human beings with certain values in their lives, and that they should be happy. But somewhere along the line, the link to happiness appears to be getting severed. We are losing the goal of happiness.
What a beautiful smile a child has. What joy and friendliness it exudes. But see the face of the same child by the time he passes out of school and college. Does it still retain that joy, that innocence, that beauty that it was endowed with as an infant? Is there a way to retain the innocence of a child when one grows older? If we can achieve that, then we will have attained something really marvellous; because innocence brings with itself a certain beauty.
Can’t we introduce in our education system such values that will ensure that every child learns to be friendly? These days if you ask children how many friends they have, they will count on their fingers — one, two, three, four, five... Not more than that. If you don’t know how to be friendly with the 40-50 children present in your classroom, how will you ever become friendly with the six billion people on this planet? The basic tendency to be friendly is lost somewhere in the pursuit of selfish education.
It’s high time that we came together to identify ways and means of restoring the respect, honour and dignity that education has commanded historically. The need of the day is a broad-minded education accompanied by a warm heart. It is of no use if you acquire good education and then begin to look down upon everybody else. A well-educated person is one who is friendly and compassionate, who can be a ‘nobody’ with everybody.
Obsolete principles, theories, systems of education and methodology of transmitting knowledge need to undergo a change. Today you don’t need to by heart the multiplication tables. If the same outdated method of education is followed in our schools and colleges, it is a waste of time. In this computer age, one can know all about history on just a click. Still children spend hours and hours learning when the Mutiny happened.
By the time a child comes to college, he or she is already worn out. He carries the books like a donkey, on his back -- huge loads of books on irrelevant subjects. This system needs to undergo a change and we need to harness a child’s capacity to digest more, understand more. Sadly, we have done nothing to increase the capacity of our consciousness. At the same time there is a bombardment of information from visual and audiovisual media, movies and video games. This puts such a pressure on one’s mind. It would only turn children schizophrenic and attention deficiency syndrome will come up, because their brain cannot digest the information and reproduce it.
The methodology of education needs to change to eliminate a lot of the unwanted information. Creative methods of teaching will help children build their personalities. Creative sports and ancient techniques such as meditation, yoga and pranayama should be a part of a child’s learning process.
A good system of education must instil self-esteem and creativity. We have to instil confidence in education, broaden the vision and deepen the roots. The education system should prevent people from becoming fanatics. The right education must harnessed a mind that is free, not obsessed with anything and neither angry about the past nor angry about the future.
Everybody who has a stake in education must ponder on a holistic, healthy education system that will retain the virtues and values which we are all naturally endowed with. Education must attend to all facets of human life. The key is to harness the ancient and being innovative with the modern.