The essence of education is enlightenment, engagement and encouragement
If we wish to educate others about something – especially something that requires moral strength, discipline and diligence – we need to provide them three broad things: enlightenment, engagement and encouragement.
Enlightenment: Enlightenment means showing others the way, providing them the vision to see which choices lead to which consequences. Instead of just telling them what to do, education provides them a holistic worldview for informed decision-making, thereby giving them the intellectual conviction to make the right choice. For example, to teach others sensual restraint, we need to logically explain why such restraint is beneficial, not hand it down as a diktat.
Engagement: Engagement essentially means providing people practical tools or methods to tread the way they have chosen. Without providing such practical aids, they won’t be able to persevere. For example, to teach someone to exercise daily, we may need to provide them appropriate exercise equipment and connect them with a group of regular exercisers in their age group.
Encouragement: While doing something new, everyone faces moments of doubt and discouragement. We need to provide them the confidence that they can succeed. Even if they err and need to be corrected, we can focus not on their mistake but on their potential, and inspire them to follow the process for unleashing that potential.
Significantly, Krishna integrates all these three when teaching the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna. The whole book enlightens him about dharma, the right course of action, by analyzing what actions have what consequences. To help him engage in dharma, the Gita outlines various yogic paths that help make living dharmically doable. And the Gita concludes by encouraging Arjuna, assuring him of Krishna’s love for him (18.64) and of divine protection if he surrenders (18.66).
No wonder the Gita’s education is so dramatically successful: it makes a despondent Arjuna determined (18.73).
Think it over:
- Why does education need to be enlightening?
- How can education provide engagement?
- Why does education need to be encouraging?
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