What if the main purpose of a school is redefined to create a eureka moment for every child?
My wife recently asked me to think about my dreams for our 6-year-old son. It was in preparation for our parent-teacher meeting. I wish it was instead a parent-teacher-child meeting. Anyhow, the question unleashed myriad of thoughts in many directions. It made me reflect upon my own childhood.
In the eyes of the world I was possibly considered successful, but for the most part of my life I didn’t feel successful.
My school didn’t do much to identify my passions and interests. As a child I was interested in people, in the psychology and philosophy behind what makes the world tick. I was entrepreneurial, and interested in learning about things that energised me. Being shy, I felt lonely. I understood much later how critical it was for my school to create opportunities to explore my passions. I also understood how my school focused solely on the tools (knowledge) instead of teaching us to use these tools (application of knowledge). The ability to communicate effectively at a young age would have lifted a huge barrier, as would have the ability to understand and influence people, especially under pressure or in conflict situations. It’s bizarre these vital things were never part of the curriculum.
My life changed in my late 30s when I discovered that doing something that helps others discover their passions was my passion. This created opportunities to work with wonderful people doing unbelievable things. This was my eureka moment. A moment when work didn’t feel like work and energy levels soared.
Would this have happened earlier if my school was different? Would lives of millions of children (and adults) change if schools were different? What if the main purpose of a school was redefined to create a eureka moment for every child? So many great people who lived meaningful lives that are in sync with their passions recount how this eureka moment transformed their lives.
The purpose of discovering one’s passions is about attaining happiness. Is that discovery enough or could something be missing? Extensive research over the past decade on the subject of happiness confirms how mental agitation can be defeated by contentment. Contentment ensures our passions don’t consume us. It ensures we aren’t blinded by our personal quests and ambitions. It restores the balance that is necessary to avoid downfall. Research simply proves things the great philosophers have been saying since the beginning of time. The vehicle of contentment is philosophy. Should schools not be seating our children on that vehicle?
That’s when I wrote to my son’s teacher; I asked her to help him identify his interests and craft his learning around them. I asked her to create eureka moments for him. To spark new passions that inspire him to do things he wouldn’t ordinarily do, with the intensity he wouldn’t ordinarily feel. I also asked them to help him think about values. To share stories of great men and women that have inspired mankind. Where the focus is not on events or dates, instead it is on the essence of what makes them great. And conversations around how these stories could somehow translate into empathy in action.
The question is can all parents rise together and start pushing schools and educators beyond their comfort zones? So lives would be far better and far more meaningful—for them, for us and for our children.
By Sandy Hooda
The author is co-founder, Vega Schools