Covid-19 has revised everyone’s timetable. The changes have been especially difficult for students – from kindergarten to university. Not having physical institutions of learning to go to as part of the school year has had adverse consequences – children have had to make do with online learning, a system that has been less effective for both younger and older children. While the younger kids had to make do without individual attention during class hours, the older ones had to forego lab experiments and the risky consequences of a condensed syllabus. Some college-goers have even had to drop a year.
As a result, the mental health of youth from all age groups has suffered. “Children and youth are likely to either become depressed or aggressive in such dire situations,” says Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Gurudev suggests ways to ease their lives to give them relief from peer pressure, stress, and tension that has magnified in this situation.
What the education system should include
All children need training in moral values and life skills. As they grow older, they face new situations that call upon their judgment and test their sense of right and wrong.Ancient wisdom can give children and youth a strong moral compass grounded on rationality and inner strength. Wisdom imparted through fun and simple ways can make it more accessible to children.
Our younger ones should have access to simple mental exercises and fun games that give them relief from stress and tension.
All-encompassing education system:
Too often, we see that as soon as students graduate, they have to further qualify themselves, as employers question their employability. This is a failing of the education system.If we had skill development courses integrated with the degree level courses, it would be an ideal transformation of the education system.
Students should be taught practical and useful lessons while they are studying in their undergraduate courses. Otherwise, that period only serves the purpose of securing them a degree that does not lead to productive employment.
Tips to make the education system more effective
- Institute awards for social behavior; for instance, reward those manifesting a non-violent and balanced mindset while resolving issues
- Adopt a light-hearted and humorous way of teaching even when teaching deep and difficult subjects
- Address the issue of drugs, presenting the gory truth so children are never tempted by it
- Ensure that children get a nutritious and balanced diet emphasizing its impact on both physical health as well as their zeal to learn
Development of the right mindset:
Children need exposure to life skills that teach them to handle real-life situations. And this exposure must happen at an early age.
- They must be encouraged to develop a proper conscience
- They must be taught to be self-reliant.
- The importance of qualities such as the ability to think judiciously, problem-solving ability, creative thinking, and decision-making skills cannot be overstated.
All this must go side-by-side with compassion and a positive thought process. This is how children will gain the confidence to face life’s challenges head-on.
Development of the 4 Qs:
We’ve all heard of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ), but there are two more – Social Quotient (SQ) and Adverse Quotient (AQ). Being socially aware is very important to build a caring and compassionate society. And being able to handle adverse situations is vital for children.Children should learn to handle failure and look at it as a temporary roadblock rather than a dead-end without any recourse.
Introduction of yoga and meditation:
Initiate healthy practices like yoga and meditation in schools. Teaching yoga from a young age helps children develop on a holistic level. Meditation teaches them to connect with themselves.In this space, they have respect and compassion for those around them. With these qualities, we can aspire for a progressive society – with gender equality, integration, and overall peace.
It is important that in the absence of physical interactions with their friends, cultural activities in the community, and general outings, families bridge the gap. They must contribute towards the all-round development of children by listening to their problems, interacting regularly with them, and sharing their own life with them. It is also important to eat meals together and stay connected with children.
This article is based on Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s discussions with the secretary of the CBSE Board, Anurag Tripathi, and various members of the teaching fraternity at a panel discussion on ‘Enriching Education – A Roadmap To Life Skills & Mental Wellness.’ Gurudev had a series of futuristic dialogues with thought leaders during the 2020 lockdown to discuss solutions for the challenges that lie ahead.
The Art of Living has age-wise programs: Online Utkarsha Yoga for 8+ to 13-year olds and Online Medha Yoga for 13+ to 18-year-olds that can help children develop holistically into responsible citizens of the country. There are also workshops for parents that give them insight into why their children behave the way they do: Know Your Child (children aged 12 years and below) and Know Your Teen (13-18-year olds).
Other educational initiatives inspired by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.