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The future of education and leadership: How to connect

Lobsang Phuntsok is a former Buddhist monk. Founder and Director of the Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community, which offers a new perspective on education system. He is also the protagonist in the movie “Tashi and the Monk”

Are we ready to reimagine our labors and rethink our thinking about their education? Our job is not to prepare our children for an unknown future. It is to believe in their potential and act as such so they can create the future they design. The learners do not belong to the future. The future belongs to the learners.

My focus will be on three essentials, what we call the three essentials of educating: heart, mind and body. One of the important things that I believe anytime that we think of reimagining education, is that it begins with the internal shift of the mindset in the educators, policy makers and family. Without making an internal shift inside the adults mindset, I think it will be impossible to bring a change from the outside to the inside.

But change really has to begin from the inside to the outside.

Implementing effective learning

The first thing is: for anybody who comes to your school for you to educate, you have to believe and you have to respect that every child is unique. They all are different and that is the quality of every child. Like any plant, the gardener grows vegetables or flowers, but he or she would believe that every plant, every flower is unique in itself. This is the same thing we have to believe when we educate children.

Second, we need to realize and to believe every plant has different needs, which again we don’t do in our education system and we have so many excuses for why we cannot do that, but we don’t do it. And if you are the good gardener, you will know that every plant has different needs and some plants need a lot of sun and some plants don’t. Some plants need a lot of water and some need less water. So you will see that every plant has a difference.

While educating a child, one of the most important things for the educator is being able to see that every child is unique and every child has different needs.

The world would be so boring if we try to produce every children the same when they come to our school. So they have different needs because they will have a very different contribution.

Then, we have to remember the child is not a deadlock, it’s a life, it’s full of life and we need to work with them. It is a partnership that educators, parents and children have. It is a partnership because they are full of life, and we cannot impose on that. Even when we see their naughtiness, we can see beauty in that because that is what life is supposed to be like.

Changing our mindset

This is the three lessons that we talk about so often. The first one is building a strong foundation to stand on: building the child’s character, values and attitude. Every small thing we do, matters. And guiding a person requires patience, faith and persistence.

What we call the seven elements of growth, are the fundamental elements of growth. Something what we do in the Jhamtse Gatsal is, instead of having a class of first grade math or chemistry, we have a class of interdependence and we have a class of equanimity, one of gratitude, one of generosity, one of love.

When we think about educating, we think of a very small part of our brain’s education. And we are not thinking of anything else. But most of the people in this world, I believe, like me, our fingers are not educated, are very, totally uneducated. And I see somebody who is amazing singer in our community and I feel my throat is uneducated.

And I feel sad about that. And I wish that I had this potential, even after my education. I should have educated my fingers, so I could do beautiful things with my fingers. I should have educated my throat, I could have been a much better singer than I am now. So these are the things that we as adults, need to change in our mindset.

When we educate a child partially, as most education systems in the world ask us to, sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. But when we educate the whole child, we succeed no matter what outcome, we need to emphasize that they might fail in math, but if we educate the whole child they will always prevail and they will always succeed, they might fail in our classroom because of the classroom’s expectation. They might not fulfill our educators or teachers expectations, our parents expectations and they fail in a typical education system that is within that expectation. But if we educate whole childhood child and they will succeed in their life.

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