Monday, November 7, 2011

Educating for Happiness

"When safety precedes happiness, maturity is hampered," according to an article in the Kyeongyang magazine. The writer, who is involved with Catholic cultural programs, considers most parents as being overly protective of their children, even though they don't want studies, among other things, to interfere with their children's happiness. However, they worry about their children being bullied at school, and also worry about the safety of young girls going and coming from school.
More knowledgeable parents know that this excessive concern for security limits the happiness of the child. What is happiness? he asks. We don't have to go back to the Romans or Greeks for an answer. Happiness, he says, is knowing who you are and conforming to this awareness in daily life.
Parents say they want their children to be happy even though knowing this emphasis on happiness may interfere with their education and lead to a difficult time getting a job later on. But being familiar with the many psychological and social scars that children routinely encounter growing up, they want to protect them. This is the dilemma with which they are faced.

This  happy life that we are talking about is relating with others--all kinds of others, which is the way we enlarge our vision and get to know ourselves. The time we  spend with ourselves, important as it is, we have to find time to spend with others. He goes on to talk about the boundaries between the world and religion, ourselves and others, money and meaning, desire and value. When we have the right balance between them, we will have happiness.
It is precisely in this area, however, that we have problems. For in desiring security for our children, we reduce the happiness they should be enjoying. In school and society, we keep the children away from that which is unknown and strange. In certain areas of a large city, those with similar lifestyles live together, which means the experiences will be similar. They become used to relating with others who have the same sensibilities and use the  same words.
To mature means that your world has become larger. And to adjust to this expanding world means that I am maturing, which is the foundation for my happiness. Consequently, without the child's desiring it, to overly protect the child from contact with the strange  is not wise. Better to encourage and instill in them a courage to meet the new.

Educating our children by expanding their experience of life with travel and on-the-spot programs, as important as they are, doesn't compare with allowing them to encounter the unexpected occurrences in daily life. When we make it difficult to be open to what's new and strange in life, our world becomes smaller, we become smaller, fixed in place by the old and familiar world of our past.

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