The uncomfortable truth of the matter is that the education system as we generally know it has broken. Many parents know it. Most teachers know it. Only the politicians seem to be lagging behind. It is time they caught up.
Seven out of the 10 jobs today’s young people at school in India and the UK will get when they leave university have not yet been invented. So what is the point in drilling them purely on academic matters? What are they going to need to not only survive, but drive forward and make the difference to the world that most of them want to do?
Curiously, our sages of old, especially from India, have always had the answer. We are now learning what it means in practice. Some of us are trying to make the education we offer practically reflect a new reality; that schooling needs to be at least as much about building good character as it does about delivering high academic progress.
Swami Vivekananda has always been one of my heroes. His vision that in the heart of every pupil is a “divine being” awaiting release and fulfilment is extraordinarily reflected in the Platonic philosophical vision that beauty and goodness is innate in all. Every child is in fact pure, perfect and free. A real education must release this potential brilliance.
As a Headmaster for 10 years I sought to build an educational environment where the virtues of courage, temperance, justice and wisdom could find real meaning in the lives of young people. And now, as Principal of ASIS, which represents 12 of Britain’s top Boarding Schools I am trying to do the same. That is why ASIS schools are putting up 7 Crores in scholarships to invite children from India to join us.
Courage shows itself in the ability to speak the truth and to say what you think, fearlessly. Those who can learn to speak – preferably without notes – will naturally lead; those who cannot speak will follow.
Temperance is an old-fashioned concept. Swami Vivekananda talked about it as ‘measure’ or moderation. I like to think of it as learning how to overcome selfishness; how to care for those around you and how to provide real service. “Take care of the service and the profits will look after themselves,” is an old business maxim, and one that youngsters setting out in the world need to hear.
Justice is an