Are we unknowingly putting ourselves and our children under undue pressure?
Education is an area that is continuously evolving. And why wouldn’t it? The world itself has become so dynamic in nature that it is increasingly imperative to ensure that we and our children are very much aware of the ongoing changes; and then adapt to suit our environment such that we do not lose out on various opportunities that would generate great advantages for us.
In today’s world, education by theory, as it was done in the past, would simply not suffice. It is no longer enough to go to school, learn subjects in class and not apply practical learning to the real world. It is no longer enough to limit learning to the classrooms when there are so many skills and talents to explore beyond the borders of the classroom; when people are making a living from some of the most alternative talents; when mainstream jobs such as banking and engineering are no longer the only career options available in order to attain wealth, fulfilment and overall success.
Education has now taken a whole new dimension with so many options for activities and learning experiences formed on the back of the demands of our current environment. So it sometimes becomes very difficult to keep up with doing what we need to do to ensure that we eventually figure out what works for us or what might be best for us. Given this, there seems to be a strong tendency for people to want to try anything and everything in a bid to find their one true talent or calling.
However, in doing so, people just end up becoming so busy being busy doing all these things, such that being busy has become our new way of life. We are continuously moving faster and faster to keep up with the pace of this dynamic world. Additionally, with technology and digital media coming in, one would think that our lives would be made easier through the ease of connectivity and instant availability of information. Rather, we only seem to get busier and busier every day, again another element of our new way of life.
The new mentality is that we must always be actively engaged in something; otherwise we start to suffer from that internal anxiety of feeling inadequate or lazy. Another school of thought is that our peers and society may even look down on us for not being “fully booked”. So there are elements of personal guilt and societal pressure when it comes to this issue of being busy. In fact, some people look at it as a thing of pride; whereas, we actually don’t even remember to give our bodies a break every now and then and we end up doing ourselves more harm than good.
So for children, the days of going to school, learning the very basic subjects in class, returning from school to complete homework on these subjects, and then spending the remainder of the day relaxing, reading a storybook or playing outdoors seem to be moving closer and closer to extinction. These days our children are involved in one extracurricular activity or the other in line with the demands of our environment.
While the inclusion of extracurricular activities in the school curriculum adds that robustness, which prepares our children for the dynamic world, it seems as though some parents might be subtly and unknowingly passing down this “busyness mentality” to their children. Some children participate in so many activities, that they are constantly engaged and have no quiet time. This sometimes takes away the opportunity for them to “simply be children”, interact with their natural environment, set some time aside to think, meditate and literally just be.
This is really not to take away the importance of building a variety of skills in our children through their various activities. But what happens during the period when children find a gap in their busy schedules. What do they do? Because they have become accustomed to a lifestyle of continuous engagement, inactivity becomes a foreign concept to them.
Boredom then sets in, and then anxiety comes in very soon after, where children find it challenging to stay put or engage in more sedentary activities such as reading or writing.
Over-engagement in activities also puts children under undue pressure to perform well in all areas that they are involved in. As much as we want what is best for our children and expose them to as many opportunities as we can, we also need to learn their limits by listening to and observing them closely. If children feel like they’re under too much pressure to “do everything”, then when a day comes where they do not perform up to expectations, they become disappointed in themselves and this diminishes their self-esteem.
It is imperative that we recognise the reality of our environment and learn to adapt and build the skills to suit the current dynamics. But when we start to get ourselves and our children involved in more than we can handle, we may be doing more harm than good. It is best to pace ourselves, be more organised, not fall under societal pressure and set realistic standards for ourselves and our children so that we do not end up getting disappointed.
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