Educating a Different Generation, Differently!

I, personally, have always despised History lessons. Maybe despised is a strong word, but I felt so strongly about it in school it was probably closer to hating History, if this word could better express my feelings on the subject matter.

I would always ask my mother why we were forced to learn about the past so much and why memorising dates of the beginnings and ends of wars, or of the coronation of Kings, was so important when most of the times it occurred hundreds of years ago. The answer to both my dislike and understanding was that it was important to have a deep sense and comprehension of where we come from to know where we are heading.

Logic getting the best of me, I went on to memorise the dates, the events and the various happenings to the best of my ability and mostly against my will. What is funny is that, many years later, I found myself much more interested in History for all of the reasons that my mother had explained and only some major facts had remained in the drawers of my brain. What is more unfortunate, rather than amusing, is the fact that it turns out that I no longer have that much time to go back into the details of History, unless it is for brushing up on major events and some of the important things solely in order to have a general idea – what is commonly known as General Knowledge.

I must admit though this is barely enough for me to have a full understanding of how the world came to this ‘21st Century’ and it is not because I could not understand the history lessons, I simply hated the way history was taught. The only reason I picked this subject is for the simple fact that history does not require any special abilities, extraordinary talents or high IQ to understand – am I wrong? Would you kindly take two minutes to close your eyes and imagine yourself as a child and recollect some of your favourite moments growing up?

Can you take yourself back to when the rain poured cats and dogs and everyone in the house gathered in one room, covered in Gabis (loomed and handwoven traditional blankets), while popcorn cooked over the coal next to the brewed sitting coffee before being served and the stories that were shared in the form of fables and what not? Was this not a great way of retaining stories, as well as learning and understanding the past of our own families to begin with? I am obviously not suggesting that history teachers prepare blankets and teach history around a fire or over coffee; I am merely stating a fact that maybe we should revisit and modify the way we teach our children the history of the world they will grow up in.

The education system is evolving and undergoing major reforms in different parts of the world because of its archaic methods of teaching. Many teachers have found it important to modernise their teaching methods, in order to not only integrate the technological advancements, but also meet the evolved intellectual capacity of modern day children.

Imagine the lengths to which these children will be able to go by simply teaching them slightly differently from the age of two or three. Have you heard of the coolest Kindergarten in the World, located in Tokyo and built in 2007 by a Japanese architect called Takaharu Tezuka? Imagine hundreds of children running on the roof of this Kindergarten with lots of trees and little to no walls for separation? Does this sound more like a learning arena and less like a prison?

If learning is the capacity to expand one’s knowledge, intellectual capacity and consciousness, should it not allow interactive, participatory and interrogative environments to prosper from a better understanding of what is being learned? Then why is it that for the past hundreds of years the methodologies of teaching have changed too little to incorporate these critical facets of the learning process?

There are a few distinct and independent facts I came across recently that I found very interesting to know, not only as an item of general knowledge, but most importantly, for insurance of constant growth of one’s mind that I think sums this up quite well. These are merely random facts that not only make us happy to know, but also give us a deeper understanding of our world and our individual roles in it.

The first is the fact that we are all made of star dust, because the elements that we are made of were composed in the interiors of the stars. Had this fact been instilled at an early age, imagine the dreams that would make any child soar as those that would abound from understanding to have been destined for greatness. Lest we forget that Google, the periodic table and the structure of our DNA were conceived in dreams.

The Second is that cows have best friends, which highlights the importance of good, positive and constructive company. We all have that one childhood friend that we cherish through thick and thin. Now imagine a child befriending an animal; a cow, for example. Is it ever too early to learn about nature’s ways?

The third is the fact that blind people smile even though they have never seen anyone smile before. If knowing that we are naturally aware of the sense of happiness imagine how much happier we could be if we were encouraged to pursue our happiness more than competition, fame and money.

Now, think of the Kingdom of Bhutan that made Gross National Happiness (GNH) an important national measurement; imagine if we were to hold ourselves accountable for our children’s happiness in the same manner.

By Christine Yohannes
Christine Yohannes writes about social change, performs at public events and conducts poetry workshops in schools. She has established a monthly event entitled “poetic saturdays” - a platform created to allow everyone the freedom of self-expression through art. She can be contacted at poeticsaturdays@gmail.Com

Published on Oct 18,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 859]



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