Indigenous Knowledge

Do you recall your childhood, those days when your grandmother rushed to give you warm milk with turmeric as an antidote to injury, or cloves to clench between your teeth whenever you had a toothache? Have you made a conscious effort to impart that knowledge to your own children? Perhaps not. After all, how many of us think it is valuable. To set the record straight, UNESCO does. UNESCO has started recognizing indigenous knowledge as local knowledge unique to a culture or society, which is ‘the basis for agriculture, food preparation, health care, education, conservation and the wide range of other activities that sustain societies in many parts of the world’.

Source of indigenous knowledge is practical experience in natural surroundings. Like a farmer gains while working in the fields, or a fisherman acquires while going out on the sea to catch fish. The evolution of Ayurveda and Yoga in India are some prominent examples. We are losing indigenous knowledge. This is mostly due to our endeavor to modernize our education. To protect and advance indigenous knowledge, we need to consciously work with the next generation in formal and informal ways. This knowledge is our treasure, we must ensure that this is not lost in the corridors of formal education.

Fame

In the YouTube and smartphone era, everyone is looking for their 15 seconds of fame. TV programs, live contests, fashion shows, and videos sometimes transform next door guys and girls into overnight stars. Unfortunately, they are then left struggling to figure out how to maintain the upward trajectory. It often becomes tough striking a judicious balance between public and private life.

If we glance into the past, however, we will find that enduring fame is earned only through hard work and determination. And it actually comes to those who are not really looking for it but focusing on the more immediate and important problems on hand. I am sure people like Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Copernicus, Madame Curie, Pablo Picasso or Albert Einstein were not really zealous about becoming famous. Rather they all devoted their lives to passionate pursuits of ideas that germinated in their minds.  In recent times, Malala Yousafzai  opposed those who wanted to stop young girls from going to school. She deserved and got a Nobel for her courage and determination.

It is difficult to ignore the lure of fame. We see parents expecting their children to win contests or score big in Olympiads at a relatively young age. However, children must devote their time and energy to what they love to do. Fame will follow eventually.

Possibilities

Abraham Maslow, one of the most famous psychologists of the 20th-century, claimed that, “One’s only rival is one’s own potentialities. One’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities.” If we look around us, we will discover the grain of truth in this statement. People who recognize the true possibilities in themselves, other people, and the wider society, always manage to achieve what they set out to do. Such people do not let hurdles obstruct their path, or distractions sway them away from their journey

A Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, or a Nelson Mandela did not shy away from battling odds. Rather they never let setbacks ruin the possibility that they saw of bringing about path breaking changes. For us as parents, it is often a challenge to steer the children as per our desires and expectations. How do you get your child to become a CA when he wants to become a radio jockey? Or a doctor when she wants to pursue archaeology? Perhaps it would be better to let children recognize and exploit their own potential, dream their own dreams. Help them, guide them, but never shackle them with your own calculations to stop them exploring the possibility that life has to offer.

Nature

What is nature? Is it just the land, the oceans and the forests, or is it more than that? Actually, if we ponder carefully, nature is nothing but the source of life. Nature has endowed us with the bounty of fresh air, water, flora and fauna, that makes life possible on this earth. No artificial or man-made structure can beat the soothing effect of a glorious sunrise on a beach, the mesmerizing view of a lake, the chirping of birds in a forest, or the tinkling sound of water cascading down a waterfall.

All elements in the nature exist in a delicate balance, which is sadly getting disrupted on a daily basis. If we have to keep this eternal source of life safe for our children, we need to make consistent efforts to forge their own personal connection with nature. And they will appreciate nature only when they spend some precious time in nature’s lap. Fortunately, our country offers a vast treasure trove of landforms, climate and vegetation across its length and breadth. Mountains, valleys, plains, beaches, rainforests et al. So, take out the time to explore it with your children, so that they learn to respect and conserve this natural wealth.

Travel

Travel is a whiff of fresh cool air which blows away stress and fatigue of months in a matter of days. It is loads of new experiences on steroids and birth of sweet memories which live for decades.

Planning a trip, booking tickets and stay, packing and transporting ourselves to a different world for a few days is a huge learning experience for our kids. There is no better demonstration of “work and reward” than family travel. Walking around an area hitherto unseen is subtle talking, it is educative and informative.

There is history, past and present all packaged as one and very different than our daily rigmarole. Participation is the trick, asking kids where they wish to go and why itself presents a deep insight to us about their life and preferences.

Taking time to sit back and watch and think about what you’ve seen is important. Traveling did a great deal to me. I found that when I travel and just sit in the corner and watch, a million ideas come to me. Lionel Richie

Hobbies

What do our kids do when they have nothing to do? Hobbies are indeed an interesting and constructive pass time. Plain speaking, hobby is an activity done when there is nothing to do for pleasure. At times, hobbies become big enough and they become a profession too.  Cooking, Gardening, Knitting, Painting, Sketching, Dancing, Singing – the list of hobbies is endless. Inclination and temperament usually decides what works the best for our kids.

Hobbies aid big time in personality development and soft-skills learning. Hobbies do teach time management, team spirit, patience, self reliance and independent thinking. The urge to do something different brings in innovative approaches without being nudged to do so.

Lot of people do nothing but their work these days, that’s a drain. Let our kids know how and when to take a break and what to do to relax and rejuvenate. Let them have hobbies and tonnes of them.

Kindness

Kindness is all about being warmhearted and concerned, at times, even sympathetic, right? Wrong! There are two caveats. Firstly, being kind to someone is a one way act without any expectations or a trade-off.  If there is an expectation of reciprocity it is not kindness, it is a business deal. Lastly, being kind to only those who know you is an act of mutuality. It is about going out of the way for those who we don’t know and would probably never come across again which needs to be taught to our kids.  Let our kids know that making someone’s life happy makes this world a better place.

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. Mark Twain

Break the Ice

Are you the one who starts a conversation in a stressed, tense situation? Or, are you the one who opens up discussions when a group of strangers get to stand together in a good or bad situation? Yes, this is the proverbial break the ice, with your tongue acting as hammer and your eyes acting as tong. Usually the one who breaks the ice is looked at positively and as a conversationalist. Generally, people love people who get dialogs going and de-stress the environment.

Usually kids just need a slight intro and they get going with other kids at extended family and friends outings and at family functions like anniversaries and marriages. If your kid is not taking an initiative, it works to do a bit of teaching and to get the kid going. Of course, there is a lot in this world where our children would be on their own without us being around.  So let them go ahead and say Hi! I am…

Thanks, But No Thanks

Politeness never goes out of fashion. At the same time, your kid should know being polite does not mean accepting terms and conditions from others that may be detrimental to their interest. It is never a good feeling that one is being short-changed. Nonetheless, one must learn to convey NO in an emphatic manner.

Kids, especially teenagers, are frequently caught in situations where peer pressure gains an upper hand, and the kids feel pressurized to relent. For example, smoking, drinking or substance abuse. Under such conditions, refusing the ‘offer’ may subject the kids to nasty jibes, and shut the door to group activities temporarily. As parents, if you impart the right values, it will not be that difficult for your kid to respond with ‘Thanks, but no thanks!’

Justice

It is tough to explain the difference between being fair and unfair to our kids. Having said that, it is even more difficult to get them to identify and stand for justice over injustice. Injustice hurts, but do our kids really know what is injustice? Is explaining injustice easy?

Yes and no.  Yes, if our actions have been in that direction through and through and there are examples galore to explain them, examples which they have been a part of. No, if we practice discrimination and injustice and expect them to know and be something which they have no connect with. Hence, the choice is ours. Set examples of justice for them to emulate and teach them to be fair or just leave it and wonder what they become.