Education: where do we go from here? Part III:
Reinvigorating the institutions
Excerpts from the sixth annual Sujata
Jayawardena memorial oration by Secretary to the President Lalith
Weeratunga delivered on November 26 at the BMICH.
Continued from yesterday
As much as we characterize of identify Japanese through certain well
defined criteria, an attempt must be made to craft a definition for a
true Sri Lankan. Some of the major characteristics that I advocate for a
Sri Lankan are being:
vi. valuing team
There may be many more that can be included here. But, his grouping
encapsulates the bare essentials.
Tertiary and technical education, more
focused towards career education. File photo
There can be any number of subjects taught, but each subject must
have a distinct bearing on the student, it must positively impact on the
quality of life of the individual and relate to our cultures, values and
what we stand for. Our education must help us to wade through life which
is full of vicissitudes and the foundation for such a state of mind must
be developed by the school, supported by parents at home. We cannot
prepare every child to be a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer or some other
professional. There are many occupations that contribute to the
well-being of the fabric of society. There must be a division of labour.
However, every child must be prepared for the unpredictability of
life. That is where education must concentrate.
In addition to book education, there are many other areas on which
our educationists must seriously focus. I outlined a few criteria to
define what a true Sri Lankan should be. There is also the ethical side
of education. Various names are coined to describe this essential
component of one’s education. Some call it moral education, some others
call it value education and yet others name it ethics. Whatever wed call
it, the essence of it is that we must teach our children the rights and
the wrongs. The importance of respecting our elders, living by the
foundation laid by one’s religion in one’s life, respecting the space
and freedom of others, protecting the environment, learning to agree to
disagree, upholding democratic values, and abhorrence of violence at any
cost are a few that I would like to highlight.
In 1995, a best seller authored by renowned author, Dr. Daniel
Goleman, a US citizen presented to the world, a new concept - Emotional
Intelligence, also known as EQ. Goleman through his well researched book
argued and debunked the theory that people with a high IQ always did
well in life. IQ has been the basis on which selections had been made to
many coveted positions. Seminal research has shown that having a high IQ
does not guarantee someone to be successful in life. On the contrary,
those who have a high EQ are bound to have success stories in life.
This ground breaking thought was based on the Theory of Multiple
Intelligences postulated by the renowned educationist, Professor Howard
Gardner at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In his book, Frames
of Mind, published in 1984, Prof. Gardner reveals the prerequisites of
an intelligence. “To my mind, a human intellectual competence must
entail a set of skills of problem solving - enabling the individual to
resolve genuine problems or difficulties that he or she encounters and,
when appropriate to create an effective product - and must also entail
the potential for finding or creating problems - thereby laying the
groundwork for the acquisition of new knowledge.”
Gardner demonstrates that there exist multiple human intelligences,
common to all cultures - each with its own patterns of development and
brain activity, and each different in kind from the others. These
potentials include Linguistic, Musical, Logical - mathematical
capacities, Spatial, Bodily - kinaesthetic intelligences as well as the
ability to arrive at an emotional and mental sense of self and other
people. Rather than reducing an individual’s potential to a single score
on an IQ test, it is the fostering and education of all these
intelligences that should be our concern.
Goleman based his theory of Emotional Intelligence or EQ, mainly on
the ability to arrive at an emotional and mental sense of self and other
people. These are also known as intra-personal and inter-personal
intelligences. The main components of the EQ framework are:
A. Personal Competence
1. Self awareness
2. Self regulation
B. Social Competence
5. Social Skills
Each of these dimensions consists of many emotional competencies
making it an overall 25.
Each of these competencies can be learned. Goleman says that an
emotional competence is a learned capability based on emotional
intelligence that results in outstanding performance at work.
He presents in his best selling book, Working with Emotional
Intelligence, the results of a US national survey of what employers have
been looking for in entry-level workers.
“Specific technical skills are now less important than the underlying
ability to learn on the job.” Employers listed the following:
* Listening and oral communication
* Adaptability and creative responses to setbacks and obstacles
* Personal management, confidence, motivation to work towards goals,
a sense of wanting to develop one’s career and take pride in
* Group and interpersonal effectiveness, cooperativeness and
teamwork, skills at negotiating disagreements
* Effectiveness in the organization, wanting to make a contribution,
* Of six desired traits, just one was academic: competence in
reading, writing and mathematics.
The purpose of presenting these concepts is to stress on the
importance of the need to revolutionize our school curriculum, both from
an academic as well as an extra curricular standpoint.
The need of the future is to turn out individuals that fit the
requirements of the employers where there is a lot of emphasis on soft
skills and also the skills for living with confidence. What I advocate
for the future is to turn out emotionally intelligent students who will
be able to cope with innumerable ups and downs in life and yet
contribute to the well-being of self and others.
To be continued