Mindfulness Interspersed into the Curriculum

Poonam Thakur

Principal, Jindal Vidya Mandir, Vasind

Mindfulness Interspersed into the Curriculum…What an interesting topic and frankly speaking this is the need of the hour. Academics is not the only thing which needs to be our focus. Our focus needs to be on children developing all round and becoming strong to face the challenges in the future. Are they ready for the future? Are they ready to face both winning and losing, are they equipped to accept failures, bullying, teasing, body shaming etc. Then how come we say that we are ready for the future challenges.

These days while browsing a little I came upon an incident wherein a boy just 21 year old took a grave step of committing suicide. Well and the reason was he was a - Gay. He was facing a tough time. He was in Chennai doing some professional course but he was always depressed as he was not accepted by the society. The bullying, teasing went upto the level that one night he posted on FB that he will end his life and he would go and ask God ….Why Me???? Sounds very harsh. Right???? The boy Avi wrote - Not my fault I am gay’

On July 2nd, Avi, was found dead on Neelangarai beach. A post published on his Facebook account indicates he ended his life as the ‘society did not accept him for being gay’.

Avi wrote-“Everyone knows I am a boy. But the way I walk, think and talk is like a girl. People in India do not like that,” read the Facebook post. “Please do not blame my family. Help them. We are poor. I love my mom, dad and sister. I thank them for supporting me. It is not my fault that I was born gay

So the question is what we are doing about this problem which we currently face in our school and society regularly.

Then few days later early one morning we came to know about the death of the founder of CCD. Few downfalls should not put one into depression. In a written note released by the news agency, Siddhartha — founder of India’s largest chain of coffee shops, Cafe Coffee Day, and a prominent early investor in the successful IT services company Mindtree Ltd. — appeared to apologize for “failing to create the right profitable business model.” He said pressure and harassment had become unbearable. And yet Siddhartha wrote in his note: I have failed as an entrepreneur.”

When I was working as a school teacher a girl from class 10th took away her life after her board exams got over as her mother was angry on her when she came to know about her relation with a boy of the same class. I guess the mother should have handled the situation in a more better way and if she couldn’t do it she could have asked for some help from experts.

This is an alarming situation. What if this happens with our family member, our child. Are we going to wait till the incident creeps in more closer to us. No….. We seriously can’t.

These examples makes me think-where are we heading? Why the elders and the children are not able to cope with failure, or are not ready to accept themselves as a Gay or a Lesbian. They are not ready to handle themselves if they have relationship issues. I have seen quite a few adults and children who are shy, introvert, are scared to open up. It is really scary, if they are not able to open up at this young age with parents, teachers or their friends, how will they cope up in life. They are not able to confide in anyone. But the question is who is to be blamed? We all are to be blamed because we talk a lot about winning but we do not talk about losing and how to handle the situation if you lose. How to reflect, introspect, find the short comings and move forward in life. We talk about normal relations and people but we never talk about people who are not normal. Actually we do not accept them as a part of the society. Even the parents are not ready to accept them and feel shy to open up in the society. So who will help them.

Its high time we need to talk openly to each other about relationship issues, respecting the girls, no body shaming etc. This needs to be compulsory in all the schools as a part of their curriculum in a very informal set up. No rules defined and confidentiality needs to be maintained.

A lot of movies like 3 Idiots, Chichore, Abnormal etc talk about failure, accepting yourself. Failing is fine. It is rightly said Failing is the stepping stone to Success. Failing is not the end of the life. We need to sit and introspect what were our shortcomings, the areas of improvement and work accordingly. There are many famous personalities who have failed but worked very hard and moved towards their goal. We need to accept everyone in the society.

I really sat down to think what is my contribution as a School Principal. How can I reduce this problem of students and elders who feel - Failing is a stigma in the society, We are not acceptable to the society and so on. People will not accept us. This leads to depression, heart breaks, suicide etc.

After a lot of thought and brain storming I took up the initiative of 'SHARE TO AWARE' Every week the teacher and the students in the class talk to each other, she will share her life experiences in a very informal setup, she will share where she had failed in life, It can be personal, professional, it can be body shaming or not being accepted by people for silly reasons. Not only the teacher but also the students share their secrets, their failure, their drawbacks. they both share, dramatize, role play, interact. They do this in a very informal way.

They have an unconventional chat where the teacher lets the students know that it is acceptable and fine to fail. Failure is acceptable. Accept it. Just compete with yourself without thinking about the society. Move on. Few failures in life doesn’t mean you will not do well in life. We call this programme “SHARE TO AWARE”. If the Principal and teachers talk to them freely, discuss at personal level, have confidence on each other. this really helps the students to calm down, relax, understand that I am not the only one facing these problems. There are many others sailing in the same boat. They understand that Sharing our problems reduces them, they feel better and light. They start feeling more accepted in the society. It helps them grow as an individual. They start becoming more positive and show signals of improvement in dealing with the situations.

This has not only helped the students personally but at large it has helped build up the relation amongst each other. They have started handholding the weaker ones, introvert ones, they have started believing more in their peers and have targeted to help them everywhere be it studies or anything else. This has led to develop a positive atmosphere in the school. Early morning soft music is played for the students which calms them down and helps the students get set in a positive mindset. After lunch there is soft instrumental music being played which settles the class, calms them down and helps them be more concentrated and focussed in whatever they do.

I as an educator always believe that - Catch them when they are young, that’s the reason we run this programme across all the sections from Pre Primary upto the Higher secondary. At times teachers plan their class and sometimes they take a very unconventional unplanned session as we never wanted this to be a informal lecture for the students.

I conclude with the reality in true sense and it is Talking helps. Talk to people in whom you can confide. Talk- it will help. Just talk and vent out.

To every question the answer is - Love.

Poonam Thakur

Principal, Jindal Vidya Mandir, Vasind