Vedaaranya Heritage Arts and Healing Festival 2016

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Prahlad Shekhawat

Vinayak Apartment, Chomu House Circle,
C-Scheme, Jaipur 302001, India

EDUCATION FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: THE MISSING DIMENSIONS

Education today is becoming oriented towards professional and technical education like Information Technology and  business studies and many young people are enticed to pursue these studies with the lure of  a hefty pay package.  Students who are able to pursue these studies especially in the elite institutes of business   management and technology are some of the smartest but they are not much exposed to broader liberal education, social ideas and human values. This leads the youth in the West and  around the world to aspire to  well paid individualist, hedonistic, consumerist life styles which are based on  indiscriminately aping the  more superficial  lifestyles and  values of the West .

The Dalai Lama say has proposed developing a good compassionate heart and good motivation should be central to any education. This is not what they teach at the Harvard Business School and the bright young minds who become executives and investment bankers in New York are hardly aware of their social responsibility, ethical business and the impact of their decisions, especially in the longer term , on the  economy and the society. Such youth end up as  smart marketing and financial executives and CEO’s are very much at the heart of the unmindful and greedy quick profits mentality,  which has to a large extent lead to the present global financial crisis and economic downturn

 Formal, technical and professional education which is not  informed by a moral perspective and social responsibility can lead brilliant minds to make the present system with all its ills, more efficient, not transform it. To be truly transformative and meaningful, human development, well-being and good quality of life need to be fused with a moral, ecological and integrated awareness. Education is valuable as knowledge and  skills to function better in daily life , to be better employed and in a  broader sense education enables one to expand and make informed choices . As the poet T S Eliot pointed out modern education  is concerned with information and knowledge and not with wisdom.

Both Aristotle in the Western tradition and Dalai Lama today in the East, agree that happiness is so important because it is an end in itself and we pursue other goals because they can lead us to happiness. The economist Richard Layard argues in his book “Happiness: Lesson From a New Science”, that public policy should be devoted to increasing happiness rather than wealth or success.  Paul Martin in his book “Making Happy People” proposes how we can bring up our children to be happy because happiness is arguably the most important thing in life.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child talks apart from other things talks about ensuring a young person’s spiritual wellbeing and UNESCO includes a focus on learning which is beyond knowledge and information which could be the essence of spirituality. Professor Katezanjn proposes that spirituality in education is that which animates the mind and body, gives meaning, purpose and context to thought, word and action or simply the meaning making aspect of learning

The sign of an educated person is a lifelong healthy curiosity, openness to new ideas and a keen mind to keep on learning, unlearning and revising as the evidence and the range of comparative experience requires.  In the final analysis good education for a whole human being should aim to develop knowledge and skills to function better in society, to develop abilities to discriminate between right and wrong or ethical education,   to develop abilities like the critical faculty of self refection and thinking for oneself so that one can make valuable choices for a good life that is worth living.

 

Bio:

Prahlad Singh Shekhawat
Director: Alternative Development and Research Centre, Jaipur, India
Writer & Freelance Journalist
Author of books:
1 Aspects of Human Development and Culture; Alternative Perspectives
2 Human Development, Wellbeing and Globalization
3 The Anand Cooperative Model
The first book Aspects of Human Development and Culture; Alternative Perspectives, was released by the Vice President of India
Published articles in many edited books; the latest one on Buddhism and Management was included in the book Spirituality and Business Management, published by Springer in the Netherlands.
Editor e-Journal; Redefining Development and Progress
M.A., International Development Studies, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands
Studied Creative Writing, Exeter College, University of Oxford
 Lectured at the Green Academy, Austria and at the Kansai Gadai University, Japan
Teacher; Transcendental Meditation
 Former Associate Fellow; Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur, India
Former Research Associate, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands
South Asia Convener: International Development Ethics Association
Founder member, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan State, India
Consultant, HIVOS-India, A Dutch International Community Foundation
Advisor, Children’s Rights Network (of community foundations), Rajasthan, India
 Contributed articles to leading Indian dailies like the Speaking Tree column in Times of India, Tehelka Magazine, academic journals like Seminar, Journal of Indian Philosophical Research, Indian Philosophical Quarterly and New Quest, as well as for Resurgence magazine, UK., Policy Innovations, a journal of the Carnegie Council, USA and Seeds of Peace, the journal of Engaged Buddhism, Bangkok
Presented papers at many national and international conferences and was chairperson at two of the international conferences
Address 407 Vinayak Apartment, Chomu House Circle, C-Scheme, Jaipur 302001, India
Mobile 00919829184468, prahl24@yahoo.com