Adversity…the great teacher

Uncertainty prevails over when the schools are going to open, how will the schools function once reopen? Will there be double shift or will half children come on some days and others on rest days? Uncertainty is also about will schools open only for senior classes & rest will have virtual lessons or what?

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We all are facing very challenging time. The whole world has come to standstill. No schools, no outdoor sports, no cricket matches, parks without children, cancellation of travel plans, people with masks on…is this not the reality today? Covid-19 has affected every individual, every family, every society, every field, most of the industries & countries.

Uncertainty is about our economy, unemployment, financial loss, our wellbeing. In the state of uncertainty, we all suffer from fear, anxiety, insecurities & stress. Negativity travels very fast. But can adversity, challenging times give us any opportunities to learn or grow?

Adversity teaches important life lessons

Ships are safe in the harbor, but that is not what ships are meant for. They are meant to explore, discover and engage with the sea. The seas are not always calm and shore not visible, yet ship sails to reach the shore. Same is with our lives. Life experiences are not always sweet. We are not always in comfortable zones with all pleasant happenings, things happening the way we want them. In our life, we have many ups and down. Today every individual, be it a young child or an adult or a golden ager, rich or poor is fighting this pandemic battle.

But history shows that adversity does prove to be a great teacher and it brings out the best in the human being. Adverse situations give us struggles initially but gradually we learn to settle with them. In this pandemic, our new normal is wearing masks, washing our hands frequently, working from home and working for home.

Teaching has a new dimension…

If we talk of teachers or children, they adapted very fast to online learning. We have all upskilled and reskilled ourselves. We learnt about digital platforms & digital tools. Knowledge sharing has been in abundance in the form of webinars, Google meet & MS team & Zoom technology, teaching resources like E-books etc .We are imparting education through cable TV & Whatsapp , voice messages & Videos, Radio Paathshala etc. We are seeing boom of short-term courses on digital marketing, video making skills, cooking, handicraft etc.

Ships are safe in the harbor, but that is not what ships are meant for. They are meant to explore, discover and engage with the sea. The seas are not always calm and shore not visible, yet ship sails to reach the shore. Same is with our lives.

Adversity always teaches us to change

Change is inevitable. Human species have always evolved. Progress is with change. Changes have to occur in the minds of the people and if one cannot change in his mind, he cannot change anything. One has to adapt to the changes and grow.

Pandemic has changed our priorities, our behaviors, our habits & attitudes.From race for materialistic pleasures, our priorities now have changed to :

  • Health & Hygiene, boosting our Immunity.
  • Family love, family safety, time with family, care for elders is our focus.
  • We have explored our talents in cooking, handicraft, music, movie making & many more fields.

Pandemic has given us new realizations–

  • We can survive with minimum. We are not going shopping, partying, eating out, watching movies or visiting malls.
  • New realization is that we have been very cruel to nature and now we are paying the cost. With us not going out frequently has made our environment better and now we can enjoy blue sky, chirping birds and less pollution.
  • The new realization has been that in life …degree, status, fame, money do not hold importance at times. Instead of external pleasures, what matters is our inner strengths…our Mind skills to deal with the situation. How to keep our mind balanced and calm helps dealing with adversity.
  • When we cannot control situation, we have to change our mindsets and move. We have to be very patient to deal with the tough situations

History shows that adversity does prove to be a great teacher and it brings out the best in the human being. Adverse situations give us struggles initially but gradually we learn to settle with them. In this pandemic, our new normal is wearing masks, washing our hands frequently, working from home and working for home.

Pandemic has broken our egos…

Some think that nothing can go wrong in their life but life has its own ways to prove us wrong. The pandemic has also taught us:

  • Attitude of Gratitude
  • Count our blessings
  • Keep hope alive…Hope is the ability to see light even amidst darkness
  • Trust our journey
  • Be a Critical Thinker

Pandemic has changed our behaviors…

We used to say No mobile in class-room but now we say study with mobile. We want no visitors in home nor we want to visit them, even our closest ones. We are working from home and for home too. Wearing masks, washing hands and less interaction is our new normal.

  • Adversity introduces man to himself- When our life is trouble free, we do not get exposed to our inner strengths, our true potentials. We do not know what our reactions, actions, behavior will be until we face the adversity. How we handle it, speaks a lot about our character, our mental strength, our confidence etc. Adversity tests our patience, perseverance, confidence, courage, faith, endurance etc. Life is full of speed breakers & stumbling blocks but we need a strong mind, acceptance of the fact & then our capabilities to adapt.
  • Prepare not panic—This is the period where we need to prepare ourselves to fight with the fear and not to panic. Don’t let fear and anxiety rule us. We have to learn to trust the journey though we may not understand it. Tolerance for uncertainty is the prerequisite to succeeding. We may have to take some unfamiliar paths which may take us to the best places. Though ship cannot see the shore, it has to sail.
  • Coping mechanism…With tough situations our coping mechanism get better. We understand the life better. Every life has phases of ups & down. We admire the blessing of living & breathing. Only people in the graveyards have no problems.

Our education system needs to change. We do not prepare children for life. We need to empower children with mental, emotional and physical strengths. There are situations in life where degrees don’t help but a listening ear, prayers, emotional support, meditation, assuring words help. Swami Vivekanand ji said the real education is Vinamra bano, Shaktishali bano, Sahasi bano. Degrees and skills work hand in hand. Parents and teachers need to teach right values and attitudes to children.

The role of schools & parents in adverse situations

  • Parents are Role-Models…Parents need to be calm and collected while dealing with the situation. Children can assess their anxiety and they too become anxious.
  • Understand the feelings & acknowledge them…In this pandemic most sufferers are children. They are losing all fun of school, peer interaction, play and outing.
  • Take care of younger children…Younger children are not able to articulate their feelings sometimes and manifest it in behavior like getting restless, not listening, agitated, angry etc. It is the time for parents to give them full support and assurance.
  • Teach them responsibility. Parents need to teach children to behave responsibly by wearing mask, washing hands, maintaining physical distance etc and to help and care their elders.
  • Count your blessings…Teach children to count their blessings, help develop the attitude of gratitude, values of kindness, compassion, joy of giving in kids.
  • Instill discipline…For good well-being, instill discipline in them to regularly practice yoga, meditation, physical exercise etc but children will follow if parents do it.
  • Towards positive thinking…Give them assurance from time to time that this will pass too. Practice positive thinking and have solution focused approach.
  • Motivate them…Always build confidence in children by motivation and not comparing them to others. Connect with them. Involve yourself in their activities
  • Keep them mentally & physically engaged

Holistic education is must

Our education system needs to change. We do not prepare children for life. We need to empower children with mental, emotional and physical strengths. There are situations in life where degrees don’t help but a listening ear, prayers, emotional support, meditation, assuring words help. Swami Vivekanand ji said the real education is Vinamra bano, Shaktishali bano, Sahasi bano. Degrees and skills work hand in hand. Parents and teachers need to teach right values and attitudes to children.

Teachers can share the learnings from this pandemic with students. Take children beyond the books and teach them life skills through stories, videos, role-plays etc. From time to time share success stories of people who changed obstacles into opportunities. You can talk about PM Modiji, Scientist like Edison , Einstein, Indian mountain climber Arunima Sinha & many more exemplary people.

Sharing the biographies of great people, discussing how brave people turned failures into opportunities, sharing their own experiences can make children strong mentally, socially and emotionally.

Smooth roads never make a skillful driver,
Smooth sea never makes a skillful sailor,
Clear sky never makes a skillful pilot,
Problems free life never makes a skillful person.

Meenu Bhargava is a Post Graduate in Psychology & is presently working as freelance trainer. She did her PG Diploma in Educational and Vocational Guidance & Counseling from NCERT Delhi in 1985 with distinction. She has total 35 years of work experience. She is a Life-skills trainer and Coach to teachers, parents and students. Meenu has trained 20,000+teachers and students in last 8 years in more than 400 schools and colleges all over India. The best quality for which she has always been appreciated is her desire to keep upgrading herself and her passion, dedication and creativity.