FOR WHEN THE DISCIPLINE OF HAPPINESS. By Rita Ferro Alvim
For when the discipline of happiness? The other day, I was told that a group of 200 young people was invited to choose two themes about education that they would like to see debated. What they chose left me perplexed and to this day thinking about it. The two themes they chose were: “Psychologists at school” and “Juvenile suicide”.
I was in disbelief. What call for help is this? What role do we have in this? What message are you trying to send us?
That's why I wanted to talk about it here. Because I didn't forget. Because we clearly live in a time when competition and averages have killed the pleasure of discovery. In which it is only required of them and there is no individuality in the passing of knowledge. Because we all have a role in this. Parents, who have a huge professional requirement, to bring money home, and who cannot keep up with their children. The school that collects students after students, like sheep, and that doesn't have time to get to know them as people, as human beings. The extensive curriculum that leaves no room for maneuver to teachers, where those who were left behind, stayed. Teachers, full of problems, discouraged, disrespected, tired… In short, the whole system is far, far from being happy.
Now that the problem of quantity has been solved (there is a school for everyone, education is compulsory up to the 12th grade), we all have to solve the problem of quality.
Quality is not infrastructure in my view. Honestly, I prefer my children to study in a shed with an enthusiastic, happy, friendly teacher. I prefer that the assistants know them by name, that they know who their friends are, that they have a positive hand in resolving conflicts, that their function in the playground is more than opening the gate, cleaning desks, serving lunches,...
A big dose of mindfulness training was, in my view, a huge plus for anyone who takes care of children. For those who talk to children. For those who educate children. For anyone who looks a kid in the eye and realizes that maybe behind bad behavior is a request for help, not an affront.
A huge dose of happiness is missing from schools. Students lack freedom to decide what they prefer. A huge dose of humility for teachers to lead and not just decide for… There is not enough time for everything. Time for parents to be with their children, without activities, technologies and other distractions. There is a lack of board games and nature (no wonder she is called a mother, I believe.)
With Revista Tribo I have come to know very different families and stories: Homeschooling, Unschooling, Waldorf, Montesorri, Modern School Movement, etc… All these alternative searches have one goal in common: happiness. And then others that are intrinsic to it: respect, sharing, attention, time...
The disrespectful way in which we threaten our children, how we reward them for grades without rewarding values or behavior, how we do not respect their individual learning cycles, how we ignore art, citizenship, observation or sport as the most important we develop since they were little and we fill them with concepts of adult life that kill the purest they carry.
We have to go around our world, so that their world will be happier.
So that, one day, the two topics chosen by young people to debate are far from being “Psychologists at school” and “Juvenile suicide”. And be happy subjects. Like them.
Rita Ferro Alvim
Publisher of Revista Tribo and blogger