I arrived home yesterday after almost a month away, first in India for 3 weeks and then in France and England with my daughter for a week. I had planned to write blog posts more frequently, but sluggish Internet connections prevented me from keeping up with that plan. It is probably for the best; it will take me years probably to process all that I have experienced on this incredible adventure. I'm sure I will blogging about it for years to come.
My immediate thoughts are that the world is a wondrous place populated by people who are, for the most part, doing their very best to survive and make the best of their life. The people of India, as well as the government, are challenged by the sheer number of people there. In Delhi and its surrounding areas alone, over 40 million people work to carve out their place in it all. 40 MILLION!! How does one city manage that many people? There are not enough resources, enough jobs, enough food, enough SPACE! I've learned that the education system has made it a priority to educate every child through grade 8, every child will receive an education, one way or another. And these children, the ones in school today, are the first generation to be educated. Can we in the US even imagine? The parents of this first generation of learners are not educated, so think of the challenges they face to help their children succeed, when they have not had that privilege. In some Indian states, ministers of education have given every child a bicycle to help them be able to get to and from school more quickly, since most children must rush home to help their family make enough money to survive. The states are also providing uniforms and monetary assistance to encourage parents to allow their children to attend school. It seems that the government recognizes that the only way for its people to have a future is to educate the children NOW.
In Delhi, the Minister of Education has also put into practice in all schools The Happiness Curriculum. This program, initiated first by the Dali Lama, focuses children on not only developing their mind, but also their body and spirit to help them understand what true happiness is and how to achieve it. (Not focusing solely on monetary success or selfish desires.) Every student learns and practices yoga daily in school, they spend time in silent reflection and learn to control their bodies and emotions through meditation. The benefits of the Happiness Curriculum has been discussed recently on many news channels and on social media. After seeing it in action, I wonder how our US students could benefit from such a holistic approach. The Indian students seem to be thriving and are very focused and calm.
I will continue to ponder what I've learned and I appreciate any comments or ideas you'd like to share. This experience has certainly deepened my understanding of the world and made me more mindful and grateful. It has altered the way I look at my responsibility as an educator and infused me with a new sense of determination to open the world up to my students.
Thanks for listening. Julia