Home > Curriculm and pedagogy > Developing psycho-social prosperity trough education


By G. Balasubramanian

In a global study popularly known as Gallup study covering over 1,36,000 people from about 132 countries on the relationship between wealth and happiness, the basic question was: “Does money make you happy?” Dr. El Deiner, Emeritus Professor of psychology from the university of Illinois observes “This study shows that it all depends on how you define happiness, because if you look at life satisfaction, how you evaluate your life as a whole, you see a pretty strong correlation around the world between income and happiness," he said. "On the other hand, it's pretty shocking how small the correlation is with positive feelings and enjoying yourself."

The most critical observation that came out of this study says “material prosperity predicts life evaluation, whereas psychosocial prosperity predicts positive feeling.”

An egalitarian society should address to the development of psycho-social prosperity of its people. One of the most powerful instruments of achieving this goal is the process and the instruments of education. Over the years, the objective of education has largely derailed in this process and has focused on empowering individual’s personal goals and in ushering an unhealthy competition depriving concern, compassion and reach to the people. Psycho-social prosperity is achieved only when the individual is in synergy with the physical and human universe in which one is placed.

As such the term prosperity is presently associated with the financial and other immovable assets and possessions an individual is able to acquire, hold, assimilate and expand. It has triggered an insatiable greed for achievement and assimilation resulting in progress at the cost of the well-being of other stakeholders in the community. Prosperity is deemed as a power of one’s social status and ‘standards of living’. This chase for ‘improved standards of living’ often is compromised with the basics of ‘the quality of living.’ Any social dynamics that moves on this linearity of thinking will be detrimental to the healthy growth of the society and ushering the ‘psycho-social prosperity’ which indeed is the seed for holistic happiness of the members of a community.

There appears to be a large-scale misinterpretation of the term ‘wealth’ as a reflection of ‘material possessions’. “Wealth” in its broader sense encompasses several facets of human living and existence – health, knowledge, skills, relationship, compassion, gratitude, communicability, self-esteem, enterprise and the like. In a chase for increasing our material possessions aggressively, we seem to be losing our touch with several of the inputs that would increase the parameters of our wealth – in turn our prosperity. Any progress, scientific, technological, infrastructural, economical and otherwise, will not be adequate enough for a healthy society unless the system addresses to the development of psycho-social prosperity.

How could education address to developing this?

Understanding Wealth

It is important to educate the younger generation on the meaning and concept of wealth. Wealth generation, wealth assimilation and its management are directly related to our relationship with the physical universe, its innumerable components that sustain us – air, water, land, flora and fauna, rivers and the biological eco-system. In cosmic dynamics, where there is a huge inter-dependency both in the organic and non-organic systems, any neglect of educating the wealth of nature would not help in promoting the personal wealth of an individual. As such this is the singular wealth, one inherits and leaves both during the arrival and departure from this planet. Education has the prime responsibility of creating both an awareness and sensitivity to this domain of learning.

Understanding of human rights

Human rights are acquired by every individual on birth and has a relevance in any eco-system the individual is placed. It is not limited by colour, race, religion, heritage, or other practices. It ensures every individual to freedom of existence, thought architecture, belief systems and a set of practices. They are non-negotiable and become the personal propriety of the individual. At the same time, this freedom shall not inflict, threaten or assault the similar practice of human rights of other individual wherever they are. The parameters of human rights as enshrined in the articles of the United Nations and adopted by all its member countries has to be an integral part of the learning dynamics of the students so that they can appreciate the concerns of others and contribute adequately to psycho-social prosperity.

Understanding Constitutional Values

The constitution of any country provides a basic guideline for its people to follow certain values and they become fundamental to any healthy society. These values ensure equity and equality to its constituent members and provides legal provisions for social justice. Learning about the constitutional values is only an insignificant part of learning in so far as it is not imbibed into social practices. Articulation of these values into experiential learning practices would indeed result in promotion of the psycho-social prosperity of the individual and the community. Developing a positive outlook towards the rights and practices of other members of the community is fundamental to develop the psychological health of the society.

Developing Social consciousness

All learning should result in identification of the social problems and in tackling them with a sense of fair-play and justice. Learning institutions should provide platforms both formal and informal discussions and debates on common social issues and provoking thinking of the learners to solve such problems with an outreach. Understanding the sensitivities of issues related to the under privileged and providing multiple alternatives to bring equity, growth, progress and prosperity has to be the nucleus of a vibrant educational process. Social consciousness should help in not only enabling the provisions of the law but to render justice to the causes for which they are being debated.

Promoting Ethical Standards

Ethics is the core of any society for ensuring social equity. It reflects the quality of living of the people It prohibits dominance, undue favours, unfair practices, the advantage of money and power for the haves over have-nots and celebrates the sublimation of human character over compulsive needs and greed. It is an edition of morality in action. It is important to bring home to the learners the need for adherence to ethical practices so that exploitation of human capital can be addressed.

Promoting order and discipline

Order is an expression of a disciplined mind and an acknowledgement of space, time, energy and growth to all. It is a way of understanding equity and fair-play in an interdependent society. Order and discipline are formulated in any system to ensure the health of the system and peaceful co-existence of all stakeholders. Adherence to a social order will promote communal harmony and peaceful interactions between all concerned. Education should help in promoting self-discipline and orderly conduct both as an individual as well as a member of a diverse society. Following an order is not a deviation from personal or social freedom. It is just an acceptance of social equity. There are better chances of enhanced psycho social prosperity in an orderly society.

Promoting Social Intelligence

Enough research has been done in understanding and developing social intelligence. The factors that impact the human brain to be more socially adaptable and engaged have been discussed in many research platforms. Social scientist Ross Honeywill observes “social intelligence is an aggregated measure of self- and social-awareness, evolved social beliefs and attitudes, and a capacity and appetite to manage complex social change”. Understanding social intelligence will help the learners for better understanding of social needs, social relationships, conflict resolution and management. Daniel Goleman has given wide range of guidelines in promoting social intelligences among all age groups. He focuses on the ability “to adopt to adapt”. It may be relevant to incorporate some fundamentals as a part of the learner’s curriculum so that they become compassionate, contributing and connected individuals in the society. Further, with the technology impacting, there is a larger universe of social interactions leading to social construction of knowledge.

Facilitating informal learning

For long, curricular architecture has been almost straight-jacketed leading to linearity of thinking. Polarization of knowledge and experiences have hindered free intercourse of social experiences. It may be relevant and important to make learning more informal with encouraging discussions, analysis and debating of the concepts in the classrooms. Further educational institutions should encourage extended learning from non-textual materials and from free resources so that learners have a wide spectrum of perceptions available for consideration and judgment.

Psycho-social prosperity is vital for the balanced growth of any vibrant society and to have peaceful co-existence through compassionate considerations for the physical and the biological universe in which one is placed.

*This article was originally written on LinkedIn.https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/developing-psycho-social-prosperity-through-education-g/

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