satisfied with little and the joy of little things first term of 2012-13 ends too early
The first term of this academic year was eventful and significant for our school in many respects. It went by smoother than all the earlier terms experienced by our school in its short history. This was the first half year, which went by without any hiccup of a major nature. The organisational culture and content has improved palpably and noticeably.
The PTM is NOT to find out who has not done what. It is to find out who should do what and how to meet the best interest and needs of the child.
It was with a sense of satisfaction, and in a reverie, that I was approaching the school office just as some of the Class 6 boys climbed down from our school bus, which was unusually parked in front the administration building, and ran towards us at the portico of the office! They said that their half-yearly examination concluded yesterday. They were clearly in a euphoric mood. They said that they requested the day scholars’ bus driver to drive them from the dining hall gate to the administration building for a joy ride, covering a distance of 100m. Perhaps knowing that it was the first day of their holidays the driver obliged them by doing this. The children were so happy to have travelled the little distance by bus! They hail from families that have cars, if not buses. On seeing the children run like this, one wondered if our school has been able to bring back some of the pristine qualities of life in children by carefully creating a natural and simple community ambience for them.
One of the intentions of education is to simplify our lives so that we can discover or sense wonder in the little things of life in a world where many learn to seek misery in the midst of comforts. What should be the ambience of a school and what should be the intent of educators to bring about this quality in adults and children? To understand this, we need to ask questions relevant to the previous stages of the process. Are we not simple by nature? Were we not natural and simple when we were born? What does this mean? The last question is immense. One must dwell upon it seriously to unravel the secrets of misery.
Did we lose the natural simplicity as we grew up? What was the process and nature of growing up that we lost the ability to value the most important qualities of life, like what to value and how to value? Why we are not alive in the sensory world at all times instead of being “non-alive” by living in the mental world? Have we lost the quality of being alive because of deactivation of the sensory organs due to different mental patterns that were not simple and natural? What is simplicity? What makes us simple? Why do we have to seek for it? Are we not simple naturally? If simplicity is natural, when, how and why did we lose it? Can the process of education bring back the qualities of naturalness and simplicity to our lives?
When we are hungry, we seek food and feel satiated when we get it. When we are thirsty, we seek water and feel happy to drink some of it upon finding it. The natural needs of our being are experienced are satisfied. In this natural state of existence, our senses are alive and active. One needs to understand the requirements of our being in this essential manner. Our bodily processes are exactly of a nature today as they were in the earliest days of our existence. The robust processes we have, tested over the evolutionary time scales make us “still” in the course of the history of Homo sapiens. We usually attach a time tag to events and measure their progress on the scale of time. In this process, we assume we have moved forward on the scale designed by us. On a linear scale, events will appear to be behind or ahead depending on which direction we look.
We develop these ways of looking at happenings. These unrealistic ways of looking become a habit and appear to be true. We lose touch with the most essential processes of our being and the need to discover them arises at a later point of time.
With the entry of sciences, and their applications, into human lives, profound changes began to happen in our lives. Physically, more security was available, more easily, because we learnt the skills of building houses and storage of food. We could live more comfortably in many respects. Science and its outcome of technological appliances and instruments started to roll out at a speed that we could not control any longer. The process developed a speed of its own. This changed the face of the earth and its occupants in an amazing manner. The amazing technological changes caused destruction to the planet earth and its life in many ways. It has affected the lives of the millions of creatures in the sea, land, and skies. Homo sapiens are the most aggressive species to evolve on earth so far and they have been responsible for many other species to be extinct since their advent.
A deeply interactive relationship with the surroundings makes us interdependently alive with the environment. Our response to the external stimuli makes us feel and be alive. The usage of all the senses concurrently and intensively holds the key to how intensely we live. The intensity with which each of the senses operates appears to have evolved to different levels, perhaps, based on its utility for survival. Following the logic, one may surmise that the sensation of reproductive processes surely developed extraordinary intensity for continuation of the species under the most challenging of situations.
As science and technology began to play a larger role in the society, the need for man to deploy his senses intensely reduced. His responses could be slower and duller. For example, a secure shelter reduced the need for a comprehensive vigilance using all the sense while resting leading to under-utilisation of all the senses. Faster modes of transport reduced our abilities of natural locomotion. This has influenced our skeletal and muscular system to lose their intrinsic prowess over a period. The processes of thinking created a larger than world mental space within us. The mental world became larger for us than the physical world alienating us further from the realistic world, which is physical and existent. Our mental world appears real to each one of us. However, how objectively real is any mental world and what is it doing to the human being? We may not be able to understand the process on a time scale that we have experienced until the present. The faculty of thinking and formation of the mental world will explore and evolve with effects that we may be partially able to understand.
In the meanwhile, one could safely and evidently, state that the sensory mechanisms and many physical features are used lesser and lesser causing a change in the identity of ourselves. The content of the idea of “I” appears to be changing in content due to the changes in our life and its expression that we are experiencing. The sensation of fulfilment and satiation in the physical world is easy and simple to achieve. For example, when one feels hungry and eats the need to eating more reduces. One reaches the point of satiation and fulfilment in a determinable manner. How does one get satiated in the mental world? How does one derive a sensation of fulfilment is still unclear. Is this one of the causes for the insatiable urges in us? Alternatively, were we having such insatiable urges even before the mental world expressed itself as strongly as it is now? Such large questions require the process of evolution to proceed further and make its imprint on the Homo sapiens before one knows the answers. However, it is a good idea for educators and all of us to find out if we can revive our potential to feel happy and satiated with the little experiences and with little of anything.
The realisation that we actually require only a little dawned on us finally. If we, the educators, are able to revive the capacity to be happy and joyful with little experiences in our children, it is surely fulfilling and satisfying. Is it possible to design schools and societies to revive the ability to be satisfied and be joyful with a little of the little things of life? Our attitude towards life, and such abilities, will hold the key to the fate of us, the Homo sapiens on the Planet Earth!