G. Balasubramanian is a doyen of school education in India. He has held several positions of leadership at CBSE, including Director Academics. He was the brain behind the introduction of several innovations at CBSE, which included frontline curriculum, communicative approach to language teaching, Information Technology, alternatives to homework, etc. He is also an author, poet and a sought-after speaker at educational conferences world over. This article has been taken from G. Balasubramanian’s official website balaspeaks.in
The second wave has impacted the social architecture and thought dynamics more than the first wave. The impact has indeed been intense on human thoughts and emotions; further it has also indicated some signs of the human misadventure and exploitation of their own kind for trivial purposes and greedy considerations. People in all walks of life, across all age groups, attached to all kinds of professions and with commitment to all religious, social, cultural beliefs have experienced certain amount of stress, either directly or indirectly.
The psychological pain has been more than the physical pain and in certain cases fanned by exclusive focus on negatives by a media hungry for TRPs, least knowing the kind of damage they could cause on the people psyche over a longer period. All these have raised certain basic questions relating to the objectives and processes of our educational system. I think, if no remedial steps are taken to correct them soon, we will have a social architecture where emotional consumerism will rule the people more than material consumerism. Education, and education alone, can help to address this issue; and this can happen only if all the stakeholders realise the urgency for correction, setting aside their priories for a future which they chase like a mirage.
What are the immediate issues which need to be addressed?
1. Health as wealth: Health education, and more so, preventive health, as a vital aspect of learning has to be given priority. ‘Fitness’ in all its aspects including mental health, has to be an integral part of the curriculum, not as a pickle in the meal, but as a main course. The process should move from printed words on health to safe practices on health. Several aspects of health as community and state initiatives with schools has to become a routine to create sensitivities for safe individual and community health. This calls for a paradigm shift in the attitude of all stakeholders.
2. Self-Awareness: Self-awareness is not necessarily a contradiction to any meaningful relationship with the dynamic universe. It is possibly positioning oneself adequately so that the ‘self’ is not swept away in the turbulence of distractions. The new education policy has also addressed in no uncertain terms about developing the attitude of ‘self-awareness’ among the learners. The recent catastrophe has entertained a blame game as if everyone else is responsible for all that is happening, without any ownership value for the conscious contempt by individuals and unwillingness to take responsibility for their own wellness and existence. ‘Self-awareness’ is an essential step towards respect for the self and for the community. This awarenss of the strength and limitations of the self provides a psychological and existential dimension to a holistic living.
3. Civic Sense: For several decades, we have entertained a social set-up where disobedience to civic laws is considered as celebration of one’s ‘freedom’. It is important to realise that anyone’s freedom stops at the p of one’s nose . Any action of an individual that would be an impediment to other’s well-being has to be treated as violation of civic laws and deserves to be punished, if education doesn’t help. Sometimes, even punishments are an education in themselves. Cleanliness, social hygiene, organised behaviour, social tolerance and recognising the role and needs of others, are some important learning behaviours to be brought about as essential learning and compulsive behavioural requirements.
4. Social consciousness: Educating people for social consciousness is as vital as educating them for their own self-consciousness. The right of individuals in a social architecture has to be respected and hence, establishment of equity and justice as a part of a broader human welfare needs to be addressed. Acts like hoarding, black-marketing and exploitation by people, even those who are educated, is testimony to the fact that many of us lack empathy and social consciousness. Both education and enforcement should work together to establish an appreciation for common good through sensitivities related to social consciousness. Discussions, debates, project works and case studies in this area would help in populating the idea.
5. Respect for law: There is evidence of increasing disrespect for the law. People have started feeling that law has to be abided, only under supervision. In the absence of any hawk’s eye, they can overrule the law and take things for granted. Both at the personal level and social level, respect for the law is considered a great obligation to a state or a community, least realising that they are a part of and integral to the community which survives because of the law. Implementation of law is often intercepted by powers that protect the lawless. The increasing belief that one could circumvent the law through muscle power, financial power or through other influencers, has to be dismantled. Education has to bring about a realisation for a change.
6. Eco-sensitivity: With the increasing expansion of life needs, there is a decline in eco-sensitivity. People have started thinking that it is a ball game for others and not everyone’s responsibility. The impact of environmental degradation and threat to biosphere has led to extreme cases of biodegradation and extinction of species. Survival needs of other species on earth is being ignored in preference to human survival needs, impacting ecological balance. Responsibility towards our ecosystem is everyone’s duty and personal preferences, comforts, needs and choices have to be set aside to position eco-consciousness its right place.
7. Consumer awareness: With excessive greed for possession, the human needs have multiplied, whether necessary or not. Status needs have outwitted existing needs thereby leading to extreme consumerism, which in turn has promoted products and services of poor quality that impact the physical, mental and psychological health of the individuals. With unimaginable waste products all across the world, the management of waste and trash is increasingly becoming a serious health concern and hazard. The negligence of this issue even by the educated, professionals and the elite of the society is indeed a matter of regret. The issues related to adulteration, poor quality products, unethical business practices need to be exposed both through education and enforcement.
8. Mindfulness: In a world which is increasingly becoming consumerist, where there is insatiable desire for possessions, material and emotional, concepts of mindfulness would relieve their stress for assimilaon, acquision, possession and provocaon. Mindfulness would help one to be free from the impacts of success and failures, growth and decay, name and fame, power and play. It would help conscious disengagement from external exuberance and help in focussing on the management of latent energy as wealth.
With evidence of exploiting their own kith and kin during times of crisis,
shows a new low in human behavior, though such numbers could be
insignificant and minimal. But the possible success of these individual
would send a wrong message who stand for universal happiness. It must
be realised that great academic achievements in the absence of social
consciousness and personal well-being is a hidden threat to future
This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine November 2021 edition.