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April 24, 2018 Tuesday 04:33:05 PM IST


Cover Story

Meaningful,purposeful, peaceful. And that, needless to say, ought to be the raison d’être of life, particularly for the young who walk the corridors of academia burdened not only by books but also by the unrelenting expectations of the adult world.


Where do we restore that essential but elusive balance between excellence and expectation, the pressures of which can be overwhelming for the young mind?


The summer break is at hand and that is the point to start from — fluid, formless, free.


For that lofty ideal to fall in place, start slow, start early, and start at home. The first principles could be the point of departure — involving children in household chores, most of which is left to maids and moms. So, children could start their day by making their own bed as soon as they are up. They could also make a cup of tea or coffee for the family, do the breakfast dishes, and help with getting the garbage out. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either to get them to do it.


Television cleaves homes and families. So, let there be a ‘No to TV and No Gadgets’ slot at home. Get the children out in the garden and get them to take care of at least one plant of their own, to give them a sense of nurturing the environment. Why not a ‘Grow a Tree’ campaign for our young who are going to be the custodians of our collective future on the planet? Where do we get our daily grain from? So, to let children learn the real back story, let them have a ‘Day/Week on the Farm’, where they help the farmer in all activities from tilling and sowing to assisting her with sales and marketing. That is one of the most essential politics of our life.


Are children aware of their immediate environment? So, a ‘Clean Up’ programme in the neighbourhood could be a powerful means for children to understand what goes into the making of a wholesome environment. A ‘Healthy Life Style’ programme, focusing on the dangers of consuming junk and how to counteract its effects by proper hydration and wholesome food, could be a self-propelling force multiplier.


This leads to the all-important point of getting the right amount of exercise, in a fun way, by getting them involved in individual and team sport. Swimming, yoga, and self-defence training could be made de rigueur. A DIY (Do it Yourself) programme could be fun where children get to make something that they had always wanted to do.


Getting them to participate in a survival training camp out in the wilderness would be a good idea to hone their individual and team-work skills. Disaster management workshop’s is another where they could acquire key civic skills that they could apply in the event of some serious mishap in their neighbourhood. It is important that adults, too, should be seen as contributing, by participating alongside in these campaigns and activities.




In order to sensitise the young about the need to care for fellow human beings, we need to give them stints helping out at an-old age home, an orphanage, or homes for the physically and mentally challenged. This will open an entirely new dimension to their personality in the formative years.


Get them involved in campaigns benefiting the community at large, such as Noise Reduction, Traffic Congestion Solutions, Disease Prevention, and Cancer Cause Awareness.


In Japan it is common to see students, supervised by a teacher, take turns to clean up the whole school, including the toilets. It is an example worthy of emulation. Humility, which cannot be ‘taught’, will be acquired with this single act of cleaning up after another.


No amount of moral science teaching can impart the essence of spirituality to the young. Only by showing them the way of serving the needy can they acquire it.


How else to further the beauty of young lives? The first and fundamental personal ability children need to work on is their communication skills — an essential requisite to navigate the world they inhabit. Community debating clubs and ‘Show and Tell’ sessions are excellent forums for children to work on their communication skills. Equally important is their Presentation Skills, an ability that will mark them out in their professional lives. This can be coupled with a ‘Teach A Person’ initiative on any subject s/he is passionate about, which, in turn, will build their confidence and self-esteem.


Get them involved in various project presentations, such as ‘Organise an Exhibition’ of a product they would like to sell, complete with costing, marketing, and accounting functions. Have an Ideate, Start, Market, Sell, Account your own Start-Up venture with assistance from corporates with their Corporate Social Responsibility budgets. This will open up a different world of opportunities altogether.


Career counselling sessions could become more meaningful if parents were also to participate as many are not aware of the new-age opportunities beyond the traditional and the normative.


Time management and financial planning skills explained in layman’s language are a must for the young to be able to harness their innate capabilities. Alongside, artistic capabilities should also be privileged, so children could be encouraged to master atleast one musical instrument or art.


At the end of the vacation, children could have a Self-Introspection Project, where they come out and share their learning points, which will not only benefit others around them but also increase their own self-worth.


Yes, there would be a cost to putting together all these initiatives. That is where all stakeholders from government to businesses and committed individuals need to come together with their contributions and time.


A vacation is all.

Thomas George

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