Sunday, 3 January 2016

The power lies within us

It’s almost time for the new school year to begin, and soon teachers and children will be returning to the classrooms. A greater percentage does not want to be there. Just the word ‘school’ connotes despondency. Many children want their freedom. They don’t want to be educated. For them, reading, writing, learning and doing anything academic serves as punishment. Many teachers don’t want to prepare, teach, assess, etc. This is obvious when we hear them complain about the declining standard of work, behaviour, professionalism, parental interest and the education system.

The purpose of sending children to school is to prepare them for society. Everyone who finishes school, college or university will eventually find a job and pay tax. By educating the nation, the country will obviously be successful. Revenues paid to the government will see to it that the country’s infrastructure is maintained and advanced (i.e. roads, bridges, railway lines, buildings, salaries for government employees, social benefits – including the welfare system – medical benefits, international commerce deals, etc.). Taxes are also used to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor (that is why those who are better qualified and remunerated pay more in taxes). It’s not just about paying tax. It’s also about service. People who are required to do a specific job will be able to do the job more effectively and efficiently if they are better educated. In South Africa, the pass rate is 30%, which is detrimental for the future of the country. Education determines the workforce of a country. Instead of bringing the pass rate down, we should be encouraging a better quality of teaching and learning. We should also encourage better qualifications (doctoral or master’s degree) and remuneration for teachers, who are responsible for educating the nation.  

The biggest problem with teachers and children (and many people in general) is that very few of them want to be effective. Very few of them want to ‘work’ for a living. Very few know what their passion is and very few do what they are passionate about. This leads to dissatisfaction and a legacy of negativity.

When we have power we are able to work towards doing what we are passionate about. In order to have power, we need knowledge and perception. Knowledge brings awareness and gives us power. The more we know, the more we can do. That is why learning is so important. All of life is a learning experience. Learning is not only done at school. It is done at home, in church, in a shopping centre … it is done everywhere. Perception also brings awareness. It is the key to finding solutions to our problems. Once we understand a problem, it will dissolve. When we have knowledge and perception, we have awareness.

Awareness gives us a choice. We can either control people/situations or allow the people/situations to control us. Without knowledge and perception, we have no control. We will not be able to understand how things work and we will not know what is happening in life. We will not be able to make effective and conscious choices. Being aware leads us towards making changes. We will understand what needs to be changed and what the reasons are for making these changes.

Very few people have power. They have the opposite, which is fear. Power comes from within us. Inner power is what we believe. Because people influence our beliefs, parents and teachers have a great responsibility to help children to believe in themselves. Fear comes from outside of us. Different factors, people and circumstances feed our fears. If we believe we have no power over something, like a subject, e.g. Mathematics, we will become afraid of it. We will start doubting in our abilities and the outcome can only be failure. Our belief is based on awareness or ignorance. We either know or we don’t know. The problem is we are quick to give up because we aren’t willing to improve. We aren’t willing to put in the effort to grow or develop. We believe we are stupid and will never be able to do what we fear, and then failure becomes a habit. The truth is that IQ can improve with hard work.   

Too many people (including teachers, parents and children) prefer ignorance. They avoid self-improvement and self-empowerment? Many teachers, for example, study to become educators between the ages of 19 and 22. They then teach with that qualification for the rest of their lives. They do not study further at any other time in their career and eventually end up in a rut and cannot teach effectively.

Parents are just as guilty. Many believe that the school and church are responsible for educating their children. Many parents, especially those who lack good educational qualifications, do not inspire their children to learn. They have absolutely no involvement in their children’s school career. These are the parents who are quick to criticize the teachers and education system.

Learning starts in the womb. It is a life experience. We never stop learning. If ever we want our children to be successful, we need to encourage hard work and learning. We also need to focus on value-based education so that children, teachers and parents will stop focusing on academic results and look at the child as a person who is being prepared for society. We need so much more to survive in the real world than an average of 90% grades on our school report, and so, we need to focus on preparing children to meet the challenges that they may face in life and in their academic career. By doing this, we will be developing adults with healthy relationships, positive social behaviours, social and emotional development, resilience, the ability to adapt and the ability to allow change.

We tend to dislike personal discomfort and personal suffering, and we also dislike seeing so much suffering in the world. We want to make a difference, but often feel that we have no power to do so. Yet, even the smallest contribution can make a difference if we are willing to try. We are responsible for our lives, our education and our future. If we start by looking at the world and ourselves in a different light (a positive light, a powerful light), we will grow in our belief that we have the power to change for the better and make a difference. Then, with that power, we can help and empower others to change for the better. The power lies within us!

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