16 Sep Education needs the YOU lesson
I believe that the educational system needs a lot of reforms. However, it would take a lot of funding, research and studies to change it all.
Some could argue that it is parents job to care for their children. But some just don’t.
There might be an easier solution. If at each stage of education, from nurseries to universities, we would add a lesson that focuses on the individual.
Why there is a need for a YOU lesson
We are all fucked up
When I was growing up, I met a lot of kids from dysfunctional families, including mine. I heard stories of father beating up their sons and tying them up radiator for hours because he did not perform well in sports. We shared stories of parents that have unrealistic expectations from us. Parents who argue all the time. These are just a few memories.
We talked about it over a lunch break like it was a normal thing that we are all broken in some way. When I look at it today, I feel disappointed. Where were the adults, the mentors, the teachers?
Almost every parent will have some negative impact on children. Some will be unnoticed and some will have devastating effects. Every child deserves to understand what happiness is.
All families are different, in a good and bad way. I believe that every child has the right to learn what is a line between a happy and dysfunctional family. The fact that my parents are arguing all the time, it doesn’t mean that this is a good relationship.
Child family has an impact on how well they do in school
If we could give individual attention, we could help some children coming from poverty or dysfunctional families. It is not possible to study for the exam if your parents are alcoholics and don’t provide you with basic needs like feeling safe and cared for.
Children should just be children
When parents or teachers struggle, very often they bring their own frustrations, depression or personal problems onto children. A mother should not expect a child to listen to her sorrows over the divorce. The son should not protect his mother from an abusive father. Although it might sound heroic, this is not a child’s job.
As a parent myself, I know how hard it is to hold your feelings back. We also don’t want to pretend that the world is all so perfect. But there should be someone else in a child’s life who can answer questions, from an objective point, without judgment. Someone who cares for the child, who is a mentor that you can trust with your scariest questions.
Parents do what they can with what they have
Studies show that children born to poverty tend to succeed less in the future. They even tend to have worse health. Not all parents have bad habits. Some of them, just work with what they have. A single parent, for example, often have to work a lot to fill up the missing budget. They will be exhausted when coming home and they might play less with children. They might have less patience.
You can watch a full TED Talk on how poverty affects children below. It also gives parents simple ideas on what they can do to help their children.
Although at the beginning I mentioned extreme cases, not all bad parents are bad parents. Ten years ago, we didn’t even say the word mental health out loud. I remember, when my parents divorced, teachers were gossiping about our family. Nobody came and asked how we are doing or how we are feeling. Luckily, things are changing. Now we don’t have to hide or be shy about our mental well being. Therefore, I believe that it is time we add mental health to our curriculum, which is as important as the regular health check.
I believe that we need more happy people. Bad things happen. We cannot prevent it. But we should learn how to deal with those things. How to deal with failure, studying problems and bad grades. If we were able to focus on the individual child as early as in nursery, maybe we could prevent big family dysfunctionalities?
How YOU lesson works
I believe that the main purpose of the YOU lesson should be to raise happy children. It should be adapted to the child’s age and development. It should be available for everyone, not only as an expensive course or part of a private school.
It must focus on the individual and help him/her understand that he/she just needs to be themselves. There should be a clear understanding that we are all different and it is OK. We are not perfect and we should not strive for perfection. It should teach children what it means to be an individual person and how he/she can take ownership of their actions.
I believe that young people need to understand that some of us have skills that enable them to be good readers while others might perform better in math. We should teach them to understand their strengths and weaknesses so that they can make the best out of it.
If something that their influencers teach them does not feel right, they should have a place where they can safely question it. They should have the right to speak up. When our system or authorities fail to help them, they should have a place, where they can ask for it.
It should explain what happiness is and what it means for different people. It should encourage more play and explain the benefits of failing. It should remind us of the self-care and how damaging bad habits can be.
Children should learn about basic disorders and to understand when something is a bad habit. For the youngest children, we can practice it already in nurseries, where we should let babies cry, laugh and express other feelings.
Young people should have the chance to learn about possible careers and understanding it. A mentor should be an independent observer, who can help the child to understand what success means and what role money plays in it.
Challenges for YOU lesson
- If we provide an individual lesson, would it excel those that are already great, again living behind kids from dysfunctional families?
- How do we pick the right mentors for a child?
- Would parents agree for a stranger to have an impact on their life and opinions?
- Is society ready for so many strong individuals?
- What if this lesson would take students away from traditional schools?
While I am a perfectionist and I am always tempted to build a perfect world for my children, I do not try to make education perfect. Life needs its flaws and mistakes. Life needs to be challenging so that we don’t get bored.
But we also need to remember that children do not choose the country that they were born in. They do not choose their school and parents. Their life is lead by what they were given. I believe that we could make the world a better place if we gave all children the chance to the YOU lesson so that they can better understand themselves, the world they live in and what is happiness.
The more happy children, the more happy parents.
What are your thoughts?
How can we bring mental health to communities: Mental health for all by involving all.