Bharatiya  Philosophy  and  Culture  in  School  Life

C.V.Narasimhan   I.P.S (Retd)

             There are several aspects of the development of a child's personality at school which can be linked with its later attitude in adult life towards some core concepts in Bharatya philosophy and culture. These aspects are not adequately perceived by the parents or teachers at the school stage, and the children are allowed to develop indifferently without any regard to basic value systems rooted in our own philosophy of life. This small article is intended to draw attention to this situation and suggest some possible methods to inculcate in our youngsters the basic values that are inherent in our ancient heritage and culture.

            An important point emphasised by all saints and philosophers in ancient India is the need for 'ego shedding', if one desires to gain true knowledge. In practice, this important point is brought up for study and understanding only at a late stage in one's adult life, after he is battered and confused by frustrating experiences in life. All the activities in the younger days of an individual now seem to be designed to promote and sustain his ego, and hold it up as something very important for his success in life. Children at school are constantly exhorted to excel others in their academic performance. Those getting the first rank in the school are held up as ideals for others to emulate. The system of recruitment by competitive examinations for public services further underlines these ego-based arrangements for selecting young persons to fill up responsible positions in administration. Those who do exceptionally well in such examinations cannot but feel that they are individually far better than a number of others and thus their sense of ego is kindled and substantially built up. While excellent performance of an individual student at school merits appreciation and due recognition, we should constantly be doing something at the same time in school to make the student feel that his individual performance alone is not all that important but what he achieves in a group activity is more important. It is by promoting as much of group activity as possible in school that we can aid a youngster to shed his ego to some extent and identify himself as a part of a bigger entity. Organisation of team work and promotion of team spirit should receive

 much better attention in every educational institution. Some schools have a system of dividing their children into different houses and evaluating the performance of each house as a whole, giving credit to individual performance of students also but crediting such individual performance to the account of the house as such and not so much to the student himself.  In the field of games and sports primary place should be given to team events. Individual events should be put in the second place. Even an event like 100 metres race can be viewed from a slightly different angle by setting up a target, say 11 seconds, to complete the course of 100 metres and then testing how many among the children are able to complete the run within that specified time. In this process several students may get grouped and declared successful in having achieved the target. Thereafter, the particular student among them who completed it within the shortest time may be complimented specially. In this arrangement the group performance gets prior recognition and individual performance comes later. I am only mentioning this is an example. Several other similar arrangements can be devised in all activities inside and outside classrooms in schools.

            Another important concept in our ancient philosophy is the law of karma. This, in a lay man's language, means the inevitability of a person having to experience the consequences of his action. Nowadays a general feeling is creeping up in society, particularly among the younger generation, that  they can do just what they want and yet get away with it, without suffering the consequences of their action. This is again and again seen in different types of violent activities into which students are drawn. In most of these cases, the law is not allowed to take its course on some ground or the other. We have to strike at the root of this growing malady. The system of rewards and punishments at the school stage must be so designed and practised to make the student realise the inevitability of the consequences of his action. He must have the assurance that his good conduct will be recognised and he must also have the certainty that his bad conduct will also be followed by a consequence which may not be to his liking. Any soft handling of issues which has the effect of making a student feel that he need not bother about the consequences of his action is always detrimental to the proper development of his personality as a whole. A proper implementation of the reward-punishment system at the school stage will definitely help the growing students understand better the law of karma in their adult life.

            Another aspect of our ancient philosophy is the importance given to the mind of an individual as distinct from his physical being. Our ancient scriptures emphasise that it is ultimately the state of the mind that matters, and all that is perceived by the physical senses is unreal. The importance of the mental situation as compared to the physical situation of a young student at school has to be brought home to him by some method or the other. Several situations in class room in which some students feel agitated on account of their academic failure or other reasons should be carefully handled by the teacher to reduce the situation of mental distress of the individual students concerned. Every effort must be made to identify the plus points in every experience of a student and he must be made to feel better by contemplating on such plus points in preference to minus points. Plus points will mostly relate to a mental experience while minus points may mostly be linked with physical experiences. Careful handling of a student by the teacher in a variety of situations which generate both plus and minus points would go a long way in shaping the student's personality on healthy lines.