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Develpoment Education Humanities

The social context of education: Are we doing enough?

Photo by Tim Marshallon Unsplash

There’s a marshmallow in front of you. 

No, this isn’t a promotion, and you aren’t getting samples (sorry!), but imagine I keep a marshmallow in front of you. Of course, I will give you the classic catch. If you wait till I come back, without eating the marshmallow, you get TWO of them. The choice seems obvious, right? Wait and get two marshmallows. Or maybe you’d rather carpe diem with that one marshmallow. Either way, what does it have to do with education?

Am I merely grabbing your attention by mentioning a fluffy, sugary treat? Maybe. BUT, did you know that the decision you would make in this actual marshmallow situation could tell quite a bit about your personality? Skeptical? Good. Allow me to elaborate. 

The Marshmallow Test and Education

‘The Marshmallow Test’ written by Walter Mischel elaborates on his famous experiment with marshmallows. Not to get into too much detail, but the author discusses how those who chose to wait for the second marshmallow had higher SAT scores and better social as well as cognitive functioning. They are then seen to have a better sense of self-worth. The comparison between those who could wait, and those who couldn’t, were characterized by different brain scans in areas relating to addictions and obesity. 

So a “no” to eating the marshmallow? Nope. That’s a personal choice. But notice how behavioral patterns in children sort of projects themselves onto adolescence and above? That’s what we’re focusing on in today’s blog. 

Social context of education 

The social context of education refers to external factors that affect a child’s educational opportunities. These factors include social background, family structure, socio-economic status, the learning environment, differences and diversity in school, resource equity, and so on.

For instance, parents’ education is seen to be associated with student achievement. Likewise, the poverty levels of the school also decide the quality of education. Public school teachers in high-poverty schools are also more likely to report student misbehavior as interfering with their teaching than teachers in low-poverty schools. Students in mathematics classes in low-poverty public secondary schools are more likely to be taught by teachers who majored or minored in mathematics than were students in high-poverty public secondary schools.  

As discussed, many factors can affect the learning process. The social context in which schools operate can influence their effectiveness. Changes in social context present challenges that schools must address to enhance their effectiveness and ensure that educational progress can occur. 

The impact of social context on education

The point to focus on is that the social environment that the child is subject to in education has a holding on their personality development. This social environment can consist of various levels such as family, institutional, community, and society. An environment in which children don’t feel safe or are victims to be bullying will have an impact that carries on into adulthood.

The mental health of the learners and their ability to deal with emotions does make a connection to this. A survey shows that 13% of students in America are stressed, 22% suffer anxiety, 20% have sleep difficulties, and 14% have depression. All of this has a direct influence on the performance of a learner. (Read more about the link between mental health and students here

Is this the social context we want in our education systems? What are we subjecting our children to?

Imagine 12-year-olds consuming content on social media where they think beauty filters are the new norm. Or teens on apps that scam them of money. Even the shady man trying to befriend an unknowing adolescent by “sliding into the DMs.” Families making learners believe that their value solely depends on education, or vice versa—that education has no value. All of this comes under the umbrella of social context. And if it is not safe, we are directly subjecting learners to the negative impact that it can have. 

Are we really okay with learning in this environment? 

social context of education
Photo by LUM3Non Unsplash

Conclusion 

While we can’t micromanage the system, we can influence it. Promoting a healthier social context in education, general check-ins, being empathetic of the learner, and not putting them in a tight box roped with expectations are some ways to give them room to grow. This environment is shaping them in numerous ways—how they interact with other elements of the community, survival systems, ideologies, and so on and so on. 

Should something so impactful get so little attention? Are we doing enough? 

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Education General Humanities Learning

3 Ancient Philosophies That Benefit Contemporary Students

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Ancient Philosophy has mostly been considered as boorish and antiquated by the younger minds. Pfft! The whole idea of reading up on ancient philosophers is boring. But as flippant as students want to be about the importance of these philosophies, the fact remains. These philosophers and their ancient philosophies have been changing the standard of living for people for centuries now.

The ideas of these philosophers are so progressive, that even after centuries of their existence, they remain relevant. World history has witnessed multiple such revolutionary philosophers who have shaped the way people, irrelevant of their age, think and operate in their lives. A few of these ancient philosophies can do wonders for the life of a student if taken seriously.

Aristotle’s Ancient Philosophy of Logic and Analytical Discourse

Have you ever considered how frustrating it gets when you face a problem and go all blank over it? Most of us have experienced the chilling feeling of a brain freeze, due to the anxiety of dealing with an unknown problem. Aristotle’s philosophy might sound complicated in words but is actually extremely easy to apply.

What Aristotle says…

Aristotle says that every single problem has a logical solution. He believes that logic is the most effective and useful way of having an analytical discourse. The journey to discover the most fitting solution to a problem, therefore, isn’t getting anxious about it. Instead, it is formulating and looking out for logic to build a resourceful solution; sounds easy, right?

‘The aim of logic is the elaboration of a coherent system that allows us to investigate, classify, and evaluate good and bad forms of reasoning, according to Aristotle. Even if we manage to instill in our minds that any problem, no matter how big, has a logical solution, working upon it becomes much easier.

Learners can encompass the Aristotelian ideas of logic for their academic and personal growth. Students’ lives are a curious mixture of impulsive actions and anxious lookout for solutions. Instilling the mentality of finding logical solutions to problems makes the process instinctual in learners. Diving into Aristotle’s ancient philosophies of logic might come in handy.

Confucius and his ‘Theory to Practice’ Philosophy

Confucius was one of the most influential and prominent teachers and philosophers of China. His philosophies had such a massive impact on society and people that a new sect of Confucianism was formed. Confucius was a benevolent teacher.

Confucius was well known for showing his back to the prevalent caste and economic divides rampant in ancient China. He believed education was not a privilege but a right of all, irrelevant to their social standings. His reformative ideas and philosophies of teaching are useful even today.

Confucius says…

Confucius quotes in his book, ‘Learning without thought is pointless, thought without learning is dangerous.’ He really wanted to emphasize the fact that rote learning and memorizing is not actually the ideal way for a student to retain long-term knowledge. According to him, real learning consists of situational teachings, where students could apply everything that they’ve learned to real-life situations.

Confucius’s philosophy advises that the best way of learning is to apply whatever educators teach you in theory to practice. This philosophy is not something that you haven’t heard in your stint as a student. But how successfully are you motivated to actually apply that philosophy to everyday life? Not that well, huh. Well, as students, try to give the Confucius philosophies a go. Maybe you’ll find what the fuss with Confucius is all about.  

Marcus Aurelius & his Philosophy of Obstacles

Haven’t most of us had the tendency of cribbing and getting upset over obstacles in our way to fulfill any task? The frustrations always feel heightening when we highly invest in something, and that doesn’t go the way we initially planned.

It is difficult for any normal human to accept the arising obstacles in the way with immense normalcy. Most people break down or at least deter from their path in the face of obstacles. Marcus Aurelius, in his philosophy, has addressed this natural human reaction and the best way to handle it.

In his works, Marcus quotes, “Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” 

This sounds extremely complex and difficult to articulate, therefore let’s simplify.

Aurelius says…

Aurelius basically states that no matter the obstacles, humans have an inherent tendency to accommodate and adapt in life. This tendency will be the guiding force for us to overcome these hindrances in our way, no matter how complex or difficult they get. He says that the obstacles that arise in the way become the way.

Aurelius’ ancient philosophy is a great motivation for students to keep moving forward in their way. It gives rise to the belief that failure can also prove to be a benefit if handled properly. Students often lose sight of the destination when the path becomes tough.

During those situations, Marcus’s philosophy reminds us that we will find a way out of it because that’s how we as humans are designed. Giving up might look like the easy way out but continue despite obstacles will give us success. At the end of the day, no matter what path we took, isn’t it the destination that matters?  

Summing Up

Misconceptions with Ancient Philosophies and their usefulness amongst contemporaries might be an area of contention. But no one can deny that these ancient philosophers and their postulates have shaped ideologies of thinkers and visionaries for centuries to come. Students that pursue philosophy have witnessed a positive harnessing of these ideologies in their daily lives. Young students can acknowledge their usefulness, at least of those philosophies that they’re actually able to decipher.  

These three ancient philosophers, in fact, are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of such influential philosophers all over world history. Some names include Karl Marx, Nietzsche, Plato, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Jean Paul Sartre, John Lock, Lao Tzu, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Rene Descartes, and of course, Socrates.   

These philosophers surely may be too old for the Gen-Z and the Millennials, and god forbid, even for the boomers, but they sure knew what they were talking about.

Categories
Education Humanities Lifestyle

Is it time to teach students to stand up against bullying

Bullying can be defined as “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger or more powerful”. Bullying is a huge problem that can be based on children in school. And it can often lead them to shape their thoughts about the world and people around them. Often in a negative light, children who are bullied tend to view others with suspicion or even resentment moving forward. It is an issue that needs to be addressed even at the smallest of levels. Bullying usually takes place in schools but can also happen in adulthood in a workplace environment.

Why do people Bully

Bullying cannot be pinned down to a single factor or reason. There are several reasons that one becomes a bully or engages in bullying. Sometimes even the person who is responsible for bullying has also in life been bullied. Often frustration and anger can lead them to lash out or project their problems on others. This could be due to an issue they’re faced with at home or even in school. Bullying can also be the result of a poor upbringing where they haven’t been able to respect other’s feelings. Which can result in them growing up to become insensitive and often time numb to the plight of others.

The bully is often as vulnerable as his or her victim and probably needs just as much support and help.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the act of bullying someone through electronic means such as; phones, tablets, and computers usually the medium used is the internet. There have been several attempts by both Governmental & Non Governmental organizations to tackle this issue over the years. However, the measures taken often leave us wanting for more. And the problems are often addressed after the emotional damage has already been. These days, anyone can create fake accounts and use them to either; post lewd, indecent, or even downright abusive comments against either a specific individual, race, or even group of people. Several organizations aid in the redressal of such complaints or acts. Some even provide support in terms of therapy sessions to help the victim overcome any mental trauma.

Who are the victims of Bullying

As mentioned anyone can be a victim of bullying. However, children or adults who are seen as ‘different’ in some way or form are more likely to be bullied. This includes:

  • Being overweight or underweight.
  • Having different sexual preferences.
  • Being from a different race, gender, or religion.
  • Having a disability, either a physical or even a learning disability.
  • Being different in appearance.
  • Having an unusual name.

Effects of Bullying on the Victim

There can be several effects that a victim may face as a result of bullying. From physical health symptoms like tummy aches or even headaches as a result of stress. To even the deterioration of Mental Health.
The lack of sleep or the onset of nightmares can also be attributed to bullying. Anxiety, depression, or even self-harming tendencies can be attributed to bullying. If not identified early on, these signs can have long-term consequences that can change the overall personality of the victim. Insecurity issues and even low self-esteem or confidence can kick in leading them to question themselves and their actions.

What to do if your child is being bullied

The first and foremost thing that can be done is to inform the relevant authority about the incident. In schools, this can often be the class representative, the class teacher. In some schools, there might even be a person appointed to address such issues in the school. It is mandatory by law that schools do not encourage or foster an atmosphere of bullying. Contrary to which strict legal action can be taken against both the culprit and the school in question. It is however advised to not address or attack the parents of the ‘bully’ directly. Any such confrontation could have a possible negative outcome. It is better to shine a light on the incident to the relevant authorities. To resolve the issue by involving both parties, and settle amicably.


In the event of Cyberbullying, people of any age should refrain from responding to any posts addressed to them. Any reply no matter how good an intention can consequently bolster the bully’s confidence. It might be playing right into the hands of the bully. Any posts or comments made should be recorded with evidence in the manner of screenshots or even photographs. It is also advised to report the said post to the social media site in question. Numbers, accounts, or even email addresses can be blocked to prevent any further harassment.

What can we do differently to eradicate bullying?

The foremost action we may take to prevent bullying is teaching our children to respect others and acknowledging their feelings. The simple act of kindness should be taught at a young age to ensure that children grow up; open to the idea that others that may appear or act differently from them are most importantly, just like them. Educating children on diversity and inclusivity can go a long way in allowing them to accept others. Children should also be taught to identify signs of bullying from an early age. It is only once we know to look for the signs do we know what is happening.

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Education Humanities

Is It Time To Teach Students Kindness in School?

School is often the second home of a child. They deserve to feel safe, accepted and appreciated when they’re in school. All of these can be achieved if kids are taught kindness in school. After all, a human being becomes humane when he or she learns to be kind to others and themselves.

What it means to be kind as a kid

A kid helping another kid

Childhood is a series of growth lessons and learning to be kind is one such milestone. It is assumed that children understand what being kind means, which is why it is shocking when we witness unkindness. This is why it is extremely important to define and discuss virtue with kids.

A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference

Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh)

So what is the definition of kindness?

According to the dictionary, kindness is:

  1. A kind act
  2. A tendency to be kind and forgiving
  3. The quality of being warm-hearted and considerate and humane and sympathetic

In simple terms being kind is listening, feeling, and understanding others needs, and trying to help meet those needs.

Now that we have a basic idea of what it might mean to be kind as a kid, let’s talk about why it’s so important that teaching this virtue be a part of the school curriculum.

Why should children learn kindness in school

Both teachers and parents need to learn the importance of teaching the value of kindness to children. This cannot be done by mere classroom sessions, but with actions. Here’s why it is high time that kids be taught kindness in school.

Happy and Caring Children
Happy and caring kids

Being kind evokes feelings of happiness in the giver and the receiver. When children learn that kindness makes one happy, they will surely explore acts of kindness. There are scientific proofs that the good feelings that we experience when being kind are produced by endorphins. These endorphins encourage more kind behavior, also known as altruism.

Less Bullying
Kindness can lead to less Bullying and more friendships

Bullying is an issue that has been growing continuously in the past few years. The rate of depression in kids is higher than ever. A major contribution to these alarming rates in adolescent bullying and violence. It is impractical to try to identify the cause and reason for bullying but we can alleviate it with small acts of kindness. When students are taught how to change their thoughts and actions by learning compassion and kindness in school, they’re rewarded with friendship.

A Sense of Perspective

It is rewarding to be kind. The rush of endorphins that we feel when we do a good deed creates a lasting sense of pride, well-being, and belonging. Every small act of kindness heightens a kid’s sense of well-being, self-worth, and optimism. Helping others provides them with a real sense of gratitude and acceptance for their own fortunes.

Better Health

Altruistic actions significantly increase a person’s level of happiness and reduce stress levels. Several physical and mental health benefits can be achieved by being kind. When children are not exposed to undue stress, their health and mood improve, resulting in smarter and happier students.

Improved Classroom Environment
Kindness can improve classroom Environment

Kindness is a key ingredient that enhances positivity and self-worth. Children with a positive outlook have greater attention spans, more willingness to learn, and better creative thinking to improve results. Being kind increases popularity and a kid’s ability to form meaningful connections. Greater peer acceptance can be a strong driving force behind a happy child.

Now that we’ve discussed why it is important, let’s talk about some easy ways to teach students kindness in school.

Here are some easy steps to build Empathy and Kindness

  • Model Kindness: It is very hard to control a kid’s behavior, but we can find ways to demonstrate kindness. Kids are eager to copy their elders so it is easy for teachers and parents to show them subtle interactions.

  • Inspire Imagination: Thinking “what would that feel like?” is one of the most powerful habits we can instill in our children. It is easier to be compassionate when a kid has an active imagination. It is easier to empathize and step into someone else’s shoes with an active imagination. Pretend play is a great way for kids to reflect. Over time, this type of thinking becomes automatic, and so does a child’s response to it.

  • A Safe Place: Like everything else, kindness is not always easy. We should remind ourselves and our kids that kindness is hard sometimes. It is not always natural, which is why it’s incredibly important that kids have a safe space where they can share, accept, and learn. A safe space where they can be encouraged to take responsibility for whatever ways they might mess up since apologizing is a form of kindness.

  • Emphasis on Friendship: Kids learn more from each other than they do any other way. Friendship is the most basic form of kindness. It teaches patience, encouragement, respect, helping others, compassion, and celebration of differences.

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends

With a Little Help from My Friends (The Beatles 1967)

  • A Chain of Kindness: Challenging the kids to spread kindness is a productive way of teaching. When one act of kindness is conducted between kids, the receiver passes on a new act of kindness to another kid. This way they can notice how it feels to be kind and how other people respond.

In Conclusion

In the long run, kindness will benefit everyone in a million different ways. This makes it important for kindness to be taught from an early age. As the effects of pandemic starts to be felt more acutely, kindness and compassion have never been more important. Schools are the perfect place to breed more kindness not only as a means towards a more harmonious society but also as a means to helping everyone through these tumultuous times.

Categories
Humanities Lifestyle

PANDEMIC: A NEWFOUND FREEDOM

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Image
Credit: Pinterest

 

What is freedom?

The Oxford Dictionary states that it is the power to act, speak or think as one wants.

Before the Covid-19 Outbreak, this might’ve meant something different but a newfound normal has brought about a newfound meaning of freedom.
Several drastic steps have been taken by governments across the world to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
On 23rd March 2020, the prime minister of India ordered the biggest step, a nationwide lockdown.
This lockdown was ordered when the nationwide count of positive cases was around 500.
As a student, life before the lockdown was studying all week and enjoying with friends on the weekend.
Every day was a blur of activities with no time left for real, genuine moments. But this pandemic has been all about the real and the honest moments.
We've come to the conclusion that if we're waiting for the world to resume normality or for the balance in humanity to return, we might be waiting for a very long time.
This realization has brought with itself a whole new kind of freedom.
Free from the busy schedule, we've discovered a new world.
A world where all of us are going through similar problems.
A world in which talking about our feelings might help someone else realize that they aren't alone.
In a world before lockdown, people weren't alone, but most of them were, for the lack of a better word 'lonely'.
The pandemic might've forced us to be alone, but it has also opened us to genuine conversations and a chance to connect and support each other.
Organizations cannot just stop functioning, so each is coming up with creative ideas to sustain their business.
Educational Institutes cannot stop teaching, compelling the teachers to try innovative teaching methods, taking full advantage of a digitally connected world, by means of online classes. Assuring that neither students nor teachers miss out on the things that matter most.
Every coin has two sides. With the bad comes the good. The pandemic might have curbed some personal freedom, but it has opened doors to a much more innovative and thoughtful world.