Ours is a society with many contradictions. While we aspire to have a better life and environment, we try to insulate ourselves from the problems around us. We protect our children from social issues instead of letting them take charge and look for solutions. The result is children growing up disconnected from our harsh social reality.
Here are a few compelling reasons to expose children to social issues and let them lead the change.
1. It will help them develop skill sets for success
Engaging more deeply with the world around them will play a key role in building sociocultural awareness, an analytical bent of mind and problem-solving abilities, all of which are life skills that are as essential as academic excellence. According to UNESCO's Child and Family Research Centre, "Supporting youth to lead on research projects positively contributes to their development, enhancing their skill set and empowering them to investigate issues that can be used as a launching pad to drive change."
2. It will build the foundation for future leadership
Children are the leaders of future. They may be faced with decisions which could have dire consequences for humanity. Their decisions can only be environmentally and socially conscious if they begin to understand - and act on -- underlying issues from a young age.
3. It will give them the 'X' factor
As they begin to navigate the world, children constantly need to differentiate themselves with their experiences to stand out in a crowd. Social problem solving not only builds a different perspective but also a depth of character.
4. They'll become better citizens
Children are the citizens of tomorrow and will need to bear the consequences of our actions. Issues like pollution, water scarcity, lack of public transport, safety, inflation etc. will impact them as much as the under-resourced sections of our society. As they grow up with awareness and an action-oriented approach to these problems, they'll play a key role in charting a better future for the world.
5. It will build practical know-how
Working on real-world projects gives students the opportunity to actually apply their theoretical knowledge, thus making learning real for them. This facilitates building skills like problem-solving, collaboration, research etc.
6. It will inspire an entrepreneurial mindset
As children tackle the challenges of the world, and find meaning and purpose in doing so, social entrepreneurship opens up as a career option for them -- a much-needed change. Being a social entrepreneur is fulfilling and testing at the same time; it is a field is where answers to many of our current problems will be innovated.
Written By Divakar Sankhla - a 2012-14 Teach For India alumnus who recently founded Project Alohomora, an organisation that works to empower children to lead social change.
Applications to the 2016-18 Teach For India Fellowship program are now open. Apply now at http://apply.teachforindia.org/user/register.
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