By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Only a human values oriented approach in education can impart true intelligence. Today, every parent envisions that their child grow up to be a well educated and happy human being with good values. However, education often fails to fulfill its true goal -- happiness. A child's smile, joy and friendliness are unmatched. However, observe the face of the same child by the time he or she passes out of school and university - does the child still retain that joy, that innocence that beauty endowed as an infant? Is there a way to retain the innocence of children once they grow older? If we can, then we would have attained something really marvelous, because innocence is beautiful.
How can we introduce and sustain the human values of compassion, caring and sharing into our education system? How can we ensure that education will nourish inbuilt virtues of a child and that every child will learn to be friendly and giving even in a competitive environment? Is education only about getting good grades so that one can secure a good job later -- or is it about laying the foundation for long-term prosperity of the society as a whole? The basic human tendency to "give" is lost somewhere in the pursuit of an education that has a narrow vision and promotes selfishness and greed. Old and outdated methods of teaching warrant reform.
Education must not only instill in students an appreciation for the sciences but also reflect today's diverse cultural influences. A good system of education must instill self-esteem and creativity in children. It must help nurture a free, un-obsessed, anger-free and relaxed mind. Such a well-rounded education system can also prevent fanaticism in young minds. Education's stakeholders must ponder on an education system that will retain human values and address the various aspects of life.
Teachers are the single most important resource to a child's learning. Teachers and local authorities must join hands to create a class room system wherein a child learns to increase awareness and not just assimilate information. Education reform should include innovative strategies that empower teachers to improve student outcomes and nurture their growth.
Today, media, Internet, movies and video games bombard children with information. This information overload affects the brain's capacity to digest and analyze data, and often results in health problems like Attention Deficiency Disorder. Creative methods of teaching can help combat these issues and help children build healthy personalities. In addition to intellectually stimulating children, education systems must also include physical activities such as sports as well as ancient techniques such as meditation, yoga and pranayama as part of a child's learning process that will teach them how to manage their emotions. True education means more than pursuit of a certain course of study. It means a preparation for achieving life skills to attain not only one's dreams but also build a safe and strong community.
When a child grows up with a sense of belonging towards everybody, he or she is ready to engage with the communities in a meaningful way. And by the time young graduates pass out of college, they learn well how to embrace their duties towards themselves, the nation and the world. It is time that we came together to identify ways and means of restoring the respect, honour and dignity that education has had historically.
The need of the day is a broad-minded education accompanied by a warm and caring heart. The function of education is to teach one to think critically -- where intelligence comes with character. It is of no use if one acquires good education and then begins to look down upon others -- or just engage in building wealth for oneself. A well-educated person is one who is friendly and compassionate, and is capable of selfless action. A complete education is one which empowers an individual to play the role of a global citizen in making the local community stronger and the world a safer and happier place to live.