There has been a lot of discussion in educational circles regarding how difficult it is becoming to deal with youth. This is not a recent issue in the field of education. Educators have been confronting this challenge since ages, because the concept of education has always been based on inter-generational tension. The educators are handed over the next generation of intellect to train them, but the scope of training itself is limited by the knowledge and past values accessible to the educators. The educators traditionally find comfort in their existing confinement of acquired values and knowledge, and pass these down to the new generation. Majority of the new generation tries to adhere to these existing values, but a small fraction questions and pushes the limits of knowledge. These mavericks then change the system to establish new paradigms. Consider the world around Nicolaus Copernicus when he was questioning the relative motion of earth and other planetary bodies. He questioned the existing understanding that the earth is the center of the universe, and probably upset a lot of his teachers and peers. Yet, what he found changed our perception regarding the motion of the universe. There are such harbingers of change in our youth, waiting to question the existing fallacies and flaws in our knowledge and values. This is the very nature of youth, to question the existing, to shun the comfort, and to embark ambitiously on an adventure into the unkown. The educator needs to consider this naure of youth, and the pedagogical principles that apply to a child should be modified to appeal to our youth.

         Our former president, Dr. Abdul Kalam once said that the actual problem of the youth of our country is lack of proper vision. Globally, a lot of attention has been given to the present generation, particularly the millenials, with earlier generations often characterizing them as “lacking vision”. Typically, every older generation has considered the new generation to be different, and heaped negative adjectives on them – for instance, unprincipled, lacking vision, self-centered, lazy, rebellious, etc. In this context, one may ask, what is “vision”? No matter how a new generation is characterised, the world has moved on, and probably has done a lot better over the years, as these new generations took the reign of society. So, even if proper vision is not apparent in our youth, something must be driving humanity and society toward betterment - greater life expectancy, improved quality of life, global citizenry, and ever loftier achievements. Vision of what society should be has evolved over generations, and most likely, this evolution has been positive for humanity. Thus, there must be a vision hidden in youth of every generation – it just remains unexpressed, until it manifests itself later in time as a generation transitions to adulthood.

         The vision of the future is a manifestation of the acquired knowledge of past generations, including its mistakes, tempered by the questions this historical knowledge raises in the minds of our youth. Youth needs to know this “history” to explore answers to well-informed questions, while the educator needs to present this “history” to the youth, without judging what is correct or incorrect. The educator must encourage youth to question existing values, analyze the past, dissect the facts, and create a vision of their life in light of the knowledge they acquire. Every generation has had to face situations where their acquired education failed to resolve a crisis, and that brush with ignorance drove them to change paradigms, visions, and values. These changes created new knowledge, wiping out another facet of ignorance. The education process is supposed to teach the young to be expert learners. Youth should be trained to cope with ignorance, in other words, how to deal with situations when they have no support from what they learned in the past. The goal of education is not to coerce youth to regurgitate past facts that they learnt by rote, and remain stuck in the past. The role of educators is not to merely be the judge of correct and incorrect answers, but to help our youth develop skills whereby they become efficient and independent seekers of answers to unsolved questions.

         Handling the education of youth with a sincere commitment of channelizing their energy in the right direction is one of the toughest tasks for each one of us in the present day. Youth of today acquire knowledge from the entire world, not merely from school and their teachers. They pick and choose what they want to learn through the internet, media, and a host of other resources. Access to this knowledge has become so ubiquitous and instantaneous that there have been instances where students have corrected their teachers in class by looking up the internet on their mobile devices. Such a situation may be seen in two ways. The alarmist would be upset by this uncontrolled proliferation of knowledge, fuelled by the insecurity that the teacher has lost control over knowledge dissemination. Or, such a situation may be seen in a positive light, as the teacher can now sit on the same side of a classroom with the students, and push against the wall of ignorance along with the students. This actaully breaks the myth in the minds of youth that their teachers have to be omniscient, takes the insecurity away from the minds of the teachers that they have to know everything, and makes the teacher a more accessible human being – someone like a coach. The teacher can actually become a coach, and a more benign guiding force for the youth toward developing their vision of future. The classroom then evolves into an intellectual playground where everyone discards the traditional tug-of-war between the omniscient teacher and the ignorant students, instead, collectively learning to push against ignorance and usher in the light of knowldege.

         The vision that drives any educational system is to inculcate in the youth the fortitude of facing adversity, ignorance, and challenges, so that they can overcome these obstacles and shape the future of their dreams. Education should not prescribe visions of future to the youth, rather it should elevate them to a height from which they get a sufficiently broad picture of the world that helps them choose their own vision. That vision may not necessarily be the same as that of their predecessors. That vision may require tremendous effort to attain. Developing the fortitude of navigating the path to attain that vision is what our youth needs training in. The hallmark of good education is the ability of developing that tenacity in the minds of our youth.

         Exercises that cultivate the tenacity of pursuing a goal or a vision should be actively practised in education. It is relatively easy to state a goal or a vision about future. For most youngsters, that vision of their individual future can range from becoming a businessperson, doctor, engineer, lawyer, literateur, musician, politician, social worker, sportsperson, and teacher, to name a few. Ask any child, and you will get a prompt answer about what they want to become. However, if you repeat that question to the same person as they are growing up, you will probably notice that this ambition changes quite frequently. This change is based on the knoweldge imbibed by the child. That is not lack of vision, but signs of a maturing vision. The common thing about any of these visions is the hope for a future that has happiness and fulfilment. None of us really knows what that happiness or fulfilment is. The only challenge toward attaining this vision is that becoming anything of reckoning is a daunting task. A doctor spends a long time training, a social activist spends a lot of days amidst poverty, hunger and squalor, a rockstar spends numerous hours doing really hard work on their music, and a great sportsperson goes through tremendous physical exertion and rigorous discipline to make a mark. The difference between success and failure in any profession is solely the tenacity with which someone pursues their ambition and their vision. In this pursuit, teachers only play the role of coaches who point out strenghts and weaknesses, and keep youth disciplined and focussed on their goals. Youth is the time in life when goals are being set for a lifetime. When you look at your lives and futures, just understand that the goal or the vision is not the most important thing in life, it is the journey to achieve that goal or vision that will define you. So, choose to be anything you want to become, work hard at becoming the best in what you become, and make the world better for everyone around you.

Ms.Dipika P. Das