Making right choices
I have realized that of late, Graham Nash’s song “Teach your children well” has been playing in my head continuously. I suppose it is because I have been silently having conversations with myself about how best to educate the children that come to Parikrma schools. To refresh your memory this beautiful song that has travelled right through the 70s to as recent as 2015 in the series Glee, was originally sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Nash was inspired by the photograph done by Diane Arbus called ‘A child with a hand grenade’. The song is all about the impact adults can have on children and the influence children have on us. While the melody is haunting it is the lyrics that make this song a classic. “You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by, And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye. Teach your children well, their father’s hell did slowly go by,, And feed them on your dreams, the one they pick, the one you’ll know by. Don’t ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry, So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.” Nash had a troubled relationship with his father and in this poem he recalls the turbulent life that his dad led before being imprisoned. Nash could have easily got influenced by his father but held his own and even got an OBE for his music and charity several years later. I agree with Nash that the best teaching is not just with words but with demonstrated action. It is so easy for us to stand in a classroom and prescribe what children should do but they also need something to follow. We need to “teach our children well” about not only how to solve a complicated algebra problem but make the right choices in life. Children need to know that there will be many crossroads in their lives. And what will lead them to the destination is the choice they make. While it need not always be the “road less travelled” they need to choose the path that resonates with their heart, values and ambitions. How should children be taught to make the right choices? The western world is all about following your heart, doing what you want and not let anyone come in the way. The traditional eastern world believes in duty to the family, social responsibility and staying away from sole self-gratification. So, does a choice have to be wise or delightful? The right answer will always allude us hidden behind the subterfuge of context, culture and varying circumstances. I think it is best to simplify it for our children and just say that their choice should be what they really want as long as it does not hurt anyone else. They should be taught how to contemplate, to determine how serious they are about their choice. I am sure that is sometimes possible. But it is best if we share a story about a choice that we have made in our lives because I am sure each one of us has one.
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