I had a great confusion with alphabets yesterday. As I sat down to write a few sentences about the next generation, I had the problem -how do I call them? Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z –or Gen alpha or by any other letter, because the speed of change is so haunting and the social dynamics is so fast that these nomenclatures are changing and evolving in a short period. One possibly needs to educate everyday the self with the relevance of terminology one uses.
The emerging social dynamics embedded in technology ushering a digital society has put the future generation in a situation where they may have more questions than answers. The absence of clarity to a number of questions, the conflicts arising out the multiplicity of answers, the mismatch between principles and practices, the gravitation of unlimited temptations are certainly likely to put them into excessive stress. Says Henry Ward Beecher, “We should live and labor in our time that what came to us as a seed may go to the next generation as blossom, and what came to us as blossom, may go to them as fruit. This is what we mean by progress.” It is in this context that we need to prepare, facilitate and mentor the next generation with certain basic skills that empower them to face life with courage, conviction and confidence.“Technology will mirror the culture and the psychology creating it. We need new psychological scaffolding to work with. Less fear and more optimism” says Gray Scotthallen
With humans engrossed in technology and losing some of the fundamental features of thought architecture and living styles, the future is indeed challenging to the living species. The next generation need to recapture the joy of life bestowed to them through well articulated thought architecture of thousands of years of evolution. Some basic paradigm shifts ushered into their learning in the last few decades need to be unlearnt to lead a stress free and peaceful life. Here are a few thoughts:
1. NOT TO LIVE OTHERS' LIFE
The industrial model of education has put in place a ‘mass drill’ system in education. The classrooms are designed to work on achieving certain ‘normal’ and the learners are made to follow ‘structured thinking’ models. In doing so, everyone looks at the other to compare notes, to moderate, modulate and to adjust their learning and behavioral patterns with their peers. Structured role models articulated to certain specific professions get glorified prompting all others to orient and re-engineer their life and learning to relive those patterns in them. Thus, the uniqueness of the individual is robbed out of him or her; and they are led to a ‘make believe’ situation that living others’ life is an achievement in life. The royal conflict of ‘Being and Becoming’ puts them into a life-time audit of their own direction and route of life. Adjustments and mal adjustments with such directional challenges make the entire life a struggle. In this chase, the individual feels having lost the joy and purpose of the entire life. It is therefore necessary to unlearn the urge to live others’ lives.
2. NOT TO LIVE IN THE PAST OR THE FUTURE
Celebrating the knowledge, skills, culture and tradition of the past is indeed an acknowledgement of the human social dynamics. But an overdose of our engagement with the past makes us lose the present or prepare meaningfully for the future. “The past has no power over the present moment” says Eckhart Tolle, the author of “The Power of Now.” In the process of recording, re-recording and replaying the knowledge of the past, we tend to rule out the possibilities of creating any ‘New knowledge’ that we are capable of creating and dedicating to the present and to the future of humanity. On a similar note, the future glows like a shooting star in a sky of gloom, yet glamourous to look at, but is neither an assurance nor an insurance to the safety of our continued existence. “The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities” says Stephen Hawking. The learners need to be concerned with the moment that offers immense possibilities to the immediate breath that they inhale and gives them the joy of action in a struggling life. Unfortunately, a society that lives in fear and insecurity engulfs their existential desires to design their minds with the glory of the past or to the possibilities of future, making the current moment impotent and inferior. There is a need to understand this predicament and live one’s life in the moment.
3. NOT TO ENGAGE WITH UNHEALTHY COMPETITONS
“Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased” says J. Krishnamoorthi, a noted philosopher of international repute. Competition provides some initial motivation and pumps some dopamine into our latent intentions. But eventually it tends to disengage the learner from the real self. It deviates one from the enshrined path to a personal vision. It makes the individual ignore and marginalize the abundant wealth and resources at one’s disposal and seek things beyond the horizon to prove a point to others that they are at par or better. In the entire exercise, One loses the immense possibilities of growth, evolution and the celebration of the beauty of the self. The current life processes which set competition to humans from birth to death, makes people losers most of their life and chase a win just because it satisfies the need or aspirations of others. Growth is non-competitive. Excellence is non-competitive. Evolution is non- competitive. The future generations should not become victims of unhealthy competitions which appear as a potential hazard of a ‘design’ community.
4. NOT TO BECOME VICTIMS OF EXPANSIONISM
The last few decades have ushered in a sense of avoidable consumerism. Urge to access, to possess, to manage, to store, to use and to expand have become the trends of modern life systems. Consumption trends appear to conquer the natural instincts of needs and desires. From material consumerism, we are yielding to emotional consumerism leading to some sort of pre-maturity in living processes. While all these appear to be accepted as current norms, it is important to understand that unlimited expansionism of any kind is a war than one fights with the self.It is a war they fight between the desire to hold and the ability to hold. It often dislodges the balance of life and makes one get addicted to an expansionist urge leading to suffering. “To be simple means to make a choice about what is important and let go of all the rest. When we can do this, our vision expands, our heads clear, and we can better see the details of our lives in all their incredible wonder and beauty” says John Daido Loori, the celebrated Zen Monk and author. Educating the future generation to be aware of and not to fall victims to unlimited expansionist compulsions appears important. “He has the most who is most content with the least” says Diogenes.
5. NOT TO BE ‘MINDLESS’ THINKERS ‘
Thinking is a conscious purposeful activity that engages the mind towards a defined goal. The absence of purpose makes the mind wander from one corner to the other like a vagabond. When the thoughts start wandering, it is purpose and direction less. It travels through several unknown islands in consciousness “Mindless’ wanderings of thoughts sometimes land into unwarranted domains of thoughts raising from subconscious trying to find a place to rest. Says Thomas Alva Edison “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” Given a spectrum of opportunities for diversion at every moment of our existence, many of us tend to get distracted in our thought dynamics. The mind tends to fill itself with thoughts which are irrelevant, infecting, injurious and invasive. It is important to empower the mind with adequate strength to ‘self-learn’ the power of handling them and to choose between the right and the wrong. “The powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun when they are concentrated, they illumine” says Swami Vivekananda. It is necessary to let the next generation understand the power of the mind and put it in context so that it remains aware, alert, agile, focused, purposeful and productive. There lies the message of Vivekachoodamani that ‘the objective of education is to make the learner a Sthithapragna” (One who is established in the consciousness).