Umpteen suicides – Are we qualified to stop it?  Some educational measures to adopt…

indian education suicide 1
Indian Education- Suicide–Madura beats

An 11-year-old girl from South Carolina shot herself to death because she was being bullied at school… A 12-year-old boy jumped from an overpass above Interstate 66 in northern Virginia and landed on a car…A 17-year-old IIT aspirant jumped to death as she was disappointed with her scores in IIT-JEE Mains

Headlines, headlines everywhere…umpteen and quotidian suicides among our youth … newspaper, news channels on suicides …what is this trend?

“Theory” behind the trend

This generation is shaped by the smartphones and by the contemporaneous rise of social media. Today our children are continuously scrolling smartphones either for their cartoon videos, games, rhymes, fashion, assignments, projects or any other learning…but seriously this trend is alarming!!! Not only children but also all of us becomes gamblers continuously playing with this Mini-video library. Jean Twenge in his research call this generation “iGen” and found a sudden increase in teens’ symptoms of depression, suicide risk factors and suicide rates due to increased use of smartphones.

This world is characterized by digital migration. This advance technology makes our society an easy place to live. We cannot imagine ourselves without this [i]-world[1]. Our life is, not good not exactly bad, but yes it is different instead becomes easy. So thinking of leaving this i-world for the sake of transformation to a new world!!! Awww…not a good idea…

So what should be done? Should we remain standstill as the mute witness of these suicides?

Theory for “preparation”

We always prepare our selves mentally and physically for something which will happen in future or can say, we train ourselves to get fit in a new situation or follow the tips to make any transition a smooth one whether it is about health, skin, weather, food, holidays, home décor anything and everything.

A say, “Without actually going through them, we cannot predict how we might react when faced with a difficult situation” is correct, so now we are in the situation, ‘a situation of this i-world’. Had we taken steps towards preparing ourselves mentally for this i-world challenge? The answer is a NO. If we had taken steps towards preparing ourselves, we do not have to face this scenario of “suicides”. So how would we prepare our i-Gen for this i-world? Or how does a country go from the ravages of suicide to offering the highest standards of living among our children? Through Education, with no doubt.

Schools all over the world can come up with a curriculum that train our children to manage this i-world with strength and tenacity. A system which will support our children in dealing and overcoming from stress, disappointment, traumas, setbacks and any other human created disasters. Education system needs to work upon:

[A] Mindfulness activities; for developing a peaceful mind

Mindfulness is a psychological process in which a person becomes more aware of his physical, mental and emotional condition in the present moment. Mindfulness activities were proved to strengthen prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is in charge of making choices. In recent past, researches at Stanford University, University of California and Santa Clara University found calmness and reduced misbehavior and aggression in day-to-day lives of people who practice mindfulness activities. Mindfulness programs having well-being curriculum should be introduced in the schools so as to improve the behavior of children and their ability to pay attention. Example of Westfield primary school of Hertfordshire, New Zealand can be taken which is following this course of mindfulness for their primary kids. The school has introduced a daily meditation practice in all primary classes. Worth to mention here is one of the famous school emotion education programs of Yale University introduced in 2005 named RULER. The program is used in many parts from K-8 schools. Programs believe that to flourish in life, the mind of a child needs to be calm and meditation reduces their levels of stress and anxiety.

[B] Happiness courses; for strengthening the most important emotion ‘Happiness’ in the mind of children

People pursue courses in branded colleges and work for successful careers because finally they want to be happy, then why can’t we work directly on that end goal of “being happy”, don’t you think it might sounds sensible? We all know that whatever knowledge we give in school today may not be same as of knowledge that has to be given after five years. So why would we teach the ultimate knowledge of being happy or satisfied in our schools? Teach kids that environment cannot control their happiness rather it’s their way of perceiving things, their mind that control the happiness. Here the happiness course of University of California deserves a mention. Example of Gelukskoffer (“Chest of Happiness”) program of The Netherland is worth mentioning because in the Happiness Index Dutch children are constantly ranked as the happiest in the world. The main goal of this program is to teach children about maintaining balance between scientific and emotional intelligence, making independent decisions, cultivating self-confidence and holding themselves responsible for their own actions.

[C] Architectural changes; for constructing an environment in schools

Researches have suggested that village people tend to foster strong relationships. The Daily Mail cited a research of Canada on 400000 people on happiness scale, which found rural people as the happiest people. If it is so then why can’t we create schools just as the layout of villages? We can have chat rooms in the schools in which children can share views, thoughts and experiences and can do gupshups, live, laugh and cry. Schools can have fields where children can farm on their own. Student dorms can be used for their rest places. Open places like village choupals for practicing music, art, painting, and presentations. All these things seem to be fascinated but can create a positive impact on the mind.

[D] Happy Teacher = Happy Class; Working on the executors

Noddings once in his study commented that teacher’s happiness should also be the aim of education. A happy teacher will keep the children happy. A teacher guides students then how come it is possible that a person who is not happy from inside can spread happiness to others. So it becomes imperative that those guides should be happy from within. Big corporates believe to keep their employees happy just to increase their loyalty, creativity and productivity and decrease absenteeism and low motivation. Similarly, schools should work on keeping their teachers happy to create a happy environment and bring positivity in children. If teachers can be asked for extra workload then steps must be taken to ensure their happiness, otherwise teachers will feel students well being as a burden in addition to their academic load.

Finally; Right acceptance for the transformation

It’s hard to accept the discussed interventions, as they are time taking and spending time on them is not a luxury when there is a long curriculum to complete. Many researches proved a positive link between mental well being and learning achievement, but if we think in this way then we are falling again in the circle of introducing a wellbeing programs just for the sake of better exam results. We need to accept these interventions because we want to do right things and save our children from negative emotions and thus suicidal thoughts. We should work on a kind of education system which will work on making our children easiest rather smartest.

[1] The term i-world is created by the author, which means Internet world. A world equipped with latest technology.

Dr Gunjan Rajput, Head, Faculty of Education, Glocal University


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