The next generation of teachers

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VICTOR KANNAN shares his observations on the direction education is moving today, and the role of teachers in a new educational paradigm.


It is well-known that the wise elders from all generations and cultures throughout history have focused a lot of attention and effort on youth. The greatest return on inspiration can be had with the youth of any nation or era. Youth is not only a gateway to each young person’s own future, it is also the future of society, of community. So how do we stand in that gateway as influencers, as inspirers, as educators and as teachers? This may require us to rethink some aspects of our engagement.

Education is something we have accepted for a long time as a stepping stone towards successful material life. But we all know now that success in material life alone is not the answer to happiness, nor is it the answer for societal well-being or for individual well-being. Now education is moving towards an integrated, holistic human development initiative. It is not enough to learn science,  technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM topics, like the stem of a tree. I think education is a lot more holistic and like the deep roots of a well-established large tree, a value-rich foundation at an early age will better serve today’s students.

With more and more studies on the effects of Transcendental Meditation and Mindfulness, and a growing awareness of the importance of emotional intelligence, social intelligence and spiritual intelligence, many top-level institutions are taking up research in this field of mental growth, personal attitudes and expansion of consciousness. The results point towards a synthesis of Yoga and meditation, along with the science of neuroplasticity, as a basis of constant positive holistic learning. It is very heartening that Heartfulness has taken a scientific approach to the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga meditation.

I believe that the youth of today are not interested in simply being told what to do; they have to be given a reason why they should do what they are supposed to do. We see it in our own families as we become parents and grandparents. We see how our children are more adept and quick to adopt technology and ask questions that blow our minds. Some of them ask spiritual questions to which we don’t have answers. So it’s a very exciting time. In this context, I would recommend you read the article on star children in the March 2017 issue of Heartfulness Magazine. That article gives us a fascinating view into the capabilities of children who have been born in the various decades.

What if we could educate our children in a unique way with the available modern-day tools and research, and combine that with life purpose based on age-old values? Many of these are universal values concerned with respect for life and loving everything unconditionally.

So modern-day teachers have a special role. They are now called upon to educate children holistically. For the moment, leaving alone the spiritual emphasis, they must teach not only life skills but also emotional skills, and the focus of life, the meaning in all activities. So, it is important that we look at the noble profession of teaching not from the point of view of a livelihood or offering children material success, but as a role in which we can instil, inspire and ignite the process of expansion of consciousness in children. We never know which one of them will grow up to help us. We never know which one of them will grow up to become a future leader, or add to our sense of well-being, joy and happiness. They could save the planet, its humanity, or even help avert a few calamitous crises. I believe that in each and every one of our lives is a teacher or two who made a difference. These teachers continue to guide us long after we graduate from school, as their inspiration and the self-confidence they instilled in us help us at every turn of our lives. We remember them gratefully. Since they are not expecting anything from us, we feel the need to give, in return, to whomever we engage with. And that is the life of paying it forward.

Heartfulness, like many other organizations, recognizes this value of paying it forward to build a better future. At the Heartfulness Institute, we have been engaging with children of all ages, offering innovative ways to learn and sharpen their minds. Now, through teacher training programs, we are embarking upon a way to enable the teachers in schools.

The only thing that is constant is time. When the second is measured and time moves on, what we pack into that time is something over which we have control. Effectiveness, efficiency, love and inspiration are probably four things I can think of from the education paradigm. What more can we put into the time that we have in our hands, whether it is a day of school, or the duration of our job as a teacher, or our time here on Earth? So, collectively we need to figure out how we make our time of engagement with children, the duration of our employment, and our life here on Earth, the most impactful.

As Confucius said, if we feed a man fish, we feed him for a day. If we teach him how to fish, he can feed himself and his family for the rest of his life. So, by training teachers so that teachers inspire children, we are at the start of yet another butterfly effect!

Heartfulness is really an agent of change – of changing ourselves on a continuous basis and also embarking upon a process of serving others. This applies to teachers as well as all of us. Here, servant leaders are what we become.

Servant Leadership is a philosophy and a set of practices that enriches lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. Robert K Greenleaf, of the Center for Servant Leadership, coined the term in a 1970 essay, where he stated that a leader is first a servant. In that essay, Greenleaf wrote:

“The servant-leader is servant first. … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first. …

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant – first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership

There can’t be any better example of a servant-leader than a teacher. Teachers of all kinds and skills, regardless of their schools and circumstances, are best placed in society, and especially in the life of a student, to make change possible, to make their lives more meaningful, to make their contributions more valuable. With this one stroke of a mindful, conscious, heartful engagement with each student, they can truly become the change agent for the community at large and for global citizenry. With this aim in mind, The Heartfulness Institute calls for a robust collaboration with educators and teachers across the globe to be part of the next generation of teachers to engender a new humanity, that is more caring and aspirational.

Please reach out to us at edu@heartfulness.org.



Article by VICTOR KANNAN


 

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COLLECTOR'S EDITION 2016