Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Universal and Timeless Wisdom – Education in Human Values

Today was an “Off Day” as I am recovering from a dental surgery. Fellow bloggers would agree – What’s better than spending a rainy day at home with tea – bhajias and reading and writing blogs.

I commented on Krishnan’s blog Musings & Miscellany wishing his son on his birthday with an extract from Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher. This blog is a result of my reflection on this letter.

This letter brings out so simply that human values are universal and timeless. These human values form the foundation on which noble societies, nay a civilisation is built. Please read this letter carefully

He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish Politician, there is a dedicated leader... Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,

Steer him away from envy, if you can, teach him the secret of quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest to lick. Teach him, if you can, the wonder of books... But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him it is far honourable to fail than to cheat... Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong... Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the band wagon... Teach him to listen to all men... but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through.

Teach him if you can, how to laugh when he is sad... Teach him there is no shame in tears, Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness... Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders but never to put a price-tag on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right. Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage to be impatient... let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will have sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order, but see what you can do... He is such a fine fellow, my son!


Krishnan said...

What timeless wisdom ! If only we, parents and teachers, take Lincoln's words to heart and try to follow some of those ideals. Sadly what we have in place in India is heartless and mindless educational system, which emphasizes results and ranks, glorifying parrot-like reproduction of what is taught sacrificing true knowledge is the process.

Gopinath said...

Kudos to you to have published this rare letter to a Teacher from a parent. We can only wish our current day teachers do impart these values to today's kids. In a recent discussion, I read about the Latur Pattern of education being studied for its effectiveness. I understand that the dedication of the teachers plays an important role in the grooming of the students which later translates into better scores. In fact, Latur kids are also excelling in music arts and cultural scene. Can we replicate this model to all parts of our country? The importance of education and the role of teachers cannot be more emphasised.

Mavin said...

Krishnan and Gopinath

Thanks for your comments.

You are right. What we see today is a race to cram information and no application of mind. More importantly, there is no emphasis on developing the emotional and spiritual quotient at all.

A balanced approach is extremely important and we need those reforms in our education process at the earliest