We are passing through a period of transition from childhood to adulthood. Words such as fear, violence, ethnic and religious cleansing, gender discrimination, moral degradation and gun shooting in schools have lost their original impact. At the same time, we hear of concerted efforts being made across the world towards world peace, tolerance, reciprocity and unity.
A move towards global citizenship and education and the endeavour towards mobilising humanity to fulfil the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations, are all positive signs of constructive measures being mooted by today’s thought leaders. There are two parallel processes happening in the world today: the disintegration of the old, fragmented world order and the crystallisation of a new world civilisation.
We tend to search for instant and realistic solutions. Is this possible? The question then arises, who is responsible to bring about the necessary change that can make the world a better place? Every one of us, as individuals, need to take action. But would that not require a strong sense of purpose? Because only when you have a strong sense of purpose, you will be inspired to take charge of your intellectual and spiritual growth and at the same time, make significant contributions that enable the transformation of society.
Fundamental to the realisation of such an approach is the development of a firm conviction in the inherent nobility of human nature. Many questions arise: How can the process of education nurture that inherent nobility in us? How can the educational process empower a child to become a protagonist of his own growth and development, and become a responsible world citizen? How can the process motivate adolescents and youth to engage in social action and contribute to the transformation of society?
We need to think about what kind of capabilities would imbue the learner with an understanding of concepts, principles, skills, abilities, qualities and attitudes that are so vital for the advancement of civilisation. What should constitute the elements of an evolving conceptual framework that would guide action and enhance the twofold purpose in every child and youth? What are its implications for the school education system?
These questions are the concern of every stakeholder in this rewarding journey of education – a journey that never ends, and where every stage of life is filled with numerous opportunities and challenges. It calls for no less than a rethinking of education.
For this process to be pursued in a humble posture of learning, it is important to critically analyse the current approach to education. Let’s introduce radical changes that retain lessons of the past while it introduces and implements new ideas. A wealth of knowledge is available on the importance of moral empowerment and the need for bringing about a change in character, mindset and attitudes of adolescents and youth.
The operating principle for this should be the oneness and wholeness of humanity. In this regard, the efforts of the worldwide Baha’i community deserve serious study and attention.
(The writer is Head, Youth Empowerment and Capacity Building, City Montessori School, Lucknow. [Courtesy – ToI])