Rohit Daniel

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We should include a subject on human relationships and emotions, probably called Human Science, in the core curriculum of our schools.

All of the world's problems stem from our failure to understand our emotions and feelings, and also our failure to understand the nuances of human relationships. If we can only teach our children how to make and maintain meaningful relationships, most of our problems would disappear to a large extent.

Agreed that there will still be exceptional cases where, in spite of the right emotional nurture, certain individuals will still make the wrong choices in life, but we can't ignore the huge difference in the life of millions! Just image, fewer divorces, fewer failures in love, fewer broken hearts, and certainly lesser crime!

We are teaching our children to be better doctors, engineers and other professions, but unfortunately we are missing out the main aspect of their upbringing: Being Human! Perhaps there was a time when we did not need to have to teach our children to be human, but seeing how capitalism has effectively dehumanized us, I strong believe it's time we start teaching our children how to be human and humane once again.

Your views on the subject will be truly insightful for me and also everyone on TED.

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    Sep 24 2013: Why not just fashion our school syllabi along emotional intelligence? Why not incorporate philosophy, ethics and civics once again back in school curriculum?
    Our education system is designed in a way to make us too sure of everything. Keeping alive a benign yet questioning mind can realign our world.
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      Sep 24 2013: Absolutely! Thank you for your input Pabitra. Do you think the people who decide the future of your country would really care about awakening the minds of our children? How do you suggest we go about creating this more human syllabus?
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        Sep 25 2013: In today's world the people who decide the future of my country are just not doing enough. They should be thinking about the world and the position and responsibility of my country in that world as my country will soon account for one quarter of humanity.
        The questioning has started already. First question that is being asked by the younger generation is what exactly is our tradition, is it blindly following what our elders have done? Look carefully at an Indian youth and you will see this question almost flashing like a neon sign.
        There are ways and means of creating a more humane syllabus - those are mere technicalities. We need to think differently first and I am hopeful such thinking is happening in India.
  • Sep 21 2013: This in some ways has been the complaint of post modernism. In this "ism" one can invent and reinvent themselves over and over but the difficulty with this is that as we recreate we lose the ability to be in touch with who we really are. This self awareness is already hard enough without adding more layers of personnae. Even what we do for a living can become another layer covering up who we are.
    Certainly many males are taught that emotions are not required. Many men have only 4 emotions, happy, hungry, angry and horny. Women can have 12 words for just angry and each one means a specific thing. But many women are passive with their emotions so that in relationships you now have the difficult presence of indirect emotional conveyance of females versus avoidance of emotions by males. This is obviously a generalization but I believe it still has merit.
    I also believe that we need to honor our emotions as a form of intelligence just as much as we need to honor our thinking. We need our heart to temper our thinking just as much as we need our thinking to temper our heart. This I believe is where we find wisdom.
    I think we all could benefit by not only learning about the value of emotions and what it takes to be in a good relationship but also what it means for us to be a valuable partner. Studies have shown that couples who attend pre-marital counseling do better than couples who do not. Although this could be due to the fact that they are already possibly more committed, I think it is still valid to recognize the value of a good education.
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      Sep 22 2013: Thank you for your valuable contribution Mark. What do you have to say about our diminishing social life? Today, we spend more time on facebook and other social networking sites than we actually do in spending time with the people who are physically around us, like say our neighbors. How does that affect our emotional intelligence? And is the current trend actually a result of our distorted perceptions of human relationships?
      • Sep 23 2013: Pain often drives us into isolation. What better place of isolation than in front of a computer screen creating your super ego or avatar on the computer. Rejection and abandonment seem to be huge "pains" in the world today. Facebook and chat rooms provide what seems like a connection but are really an isolated version of "myself" that often is not accurate let alone true. To continue this endeavor is to continue to feel rejected and abandoned because no matter how much response we get, people are still only responding to something untrue. The conversation is empty calories. I have a cartoon in my office of a young girl at her desk on Facebook while a toy trunk of toys stare on missing the girl who once creatively played with them. It is sad because when you think about it, we are creating "connection" as an avatar unto itself. Even connecting isn't real anymore. I can speak to 100 people today, none of which were face to face.
        Our emotional intelligence will be consumed and over run by feelings of isolation, abandonment, rejection, frustration etc. etc. This emotional intelligence will only become intelligent when we realize what it is calling us to do is reach out and physically touch someone.
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          Sep 24 2013: This is exactly what I'm trying to get at. We need to teach our children to be human again. We are living in a virtual world that is increasingly getting isolationist and inhuman at the same time. Thank you for your valuable insights Mark. Do you have any practical suggestions to make regarding the idea I have shared?
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    Sep 20 2013: Yes, companies offer all kinds of such classes tapping on human nature and relations to create better employees: assertiveness, leadership, conflict management, dealing with difficult customers, violence in the work place, team building, sexual harassment...training for supervisors including the different types of human personalities...and how to deal with them. By teaching human behavior in schools at levels adjusted to the age of the children should improve their understanding of others. Teaching basic psychology would increase awareness and tolerance for others based on understating people's motivation to act the way they do.
    As a side note, I actually I just remember now that growing up in Easter Europe we used to get a grade for 'Behavior' that was included in calculating our overall grade all the way to the high school level. The grade was an evaluation of your behavior in interacting with your peers and teachers. I think that came from the socialist/communist ideas of creating perfect citizens. They don't have that here in US.
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      Sep 20 2013: Thank you for that valuable insight Anairda. You've made an excellent point here that we need to teach human behavior in schools adjusted to the age of the children, and it shouldn't be just a grade but a core subject in schools. The world needs people who understand the feelings and emotions of others and tolerates them. This is especially need in the context of globalization.

      The world is getting smaller and so is our social life. I don't know if you have noticed but we no longer spend time with our neighbors. We would rather be glued to our TV sets, laptops or smartphones. We are living in a virtual world today on facebook and twitter. It's time we learn to be human again. :)

      Coming to our forms of government, I'm strongly inclined to conclude that democracy has failed to achieve its goals. Along with education it's time for us to also think of a better form of government. Democracy worked well in Athens with a smaller, well educated electorate. But in the context of today's world democracy won't work because they are too many variables and way too many people to get a consensus to do anything good in the society. I digress! This topic would make an entire conversation in itself. But I feel we need to take the best concepts of every form of government and come up something more relevant to today's world.

      Every form of government had a role to play in history and there are good lessons to learn from each. Communism had it's role in social awakening. Democracy had its part to play in liberating countries like India from slavery and colonialism and also to free human kind from the evils of apartheid and inequality but it did give rise to a monster: capitalism. I just got hold of a copy of The Communist Manifesto. There's no harm in seeing if there are any good things we can adapt from communism. :) We have to be open in our thoughts and our approach.

      Thank you for your valuable views. I really appreciate it!
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    Sep 20 2013: This is a good idea. But it should build on a foundation of human relationship that must have been set from good homes.
    The best place for children to learn about human relationships is from fathers and mothers leading by example.
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      Sep 21 2013: Hi Feyisayo. Thank you for your views. I totally agree that these things are best learnt at home from fathers and mothers. However, what do you have to say about families where both parents work and they hardly have time for their children? It's not uncommon these days for parents to put their children in playschools as early just a year old.

      Perhaps this is why we need to teach our children to be human again. To remind them and ourselves too that money and careers aren't everything in life. It's not possible to teach adults to sacrifice their careers to spend more time with their children. But it's definitely easier and absolutely worth it if we can teach our children to value relationships so that when they become parents tomorrow they would be good examples to their children.
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    Oct 18 2013: .
    Yes!

    Particularly, the subject of human symbiosis.
  • Sep 24 2013: I think to be human again means we must become a child...not childish but as a child. What do I mean by this? First that we begin to re-ignite creativity within us. This is not authentically achieved unless we add "wonder" to this. A child's creativity begins with wonder which in turn ignites creativity. Yet when a child starts with wonder, this pulls others into the experience. Think of walking with a small child and how they stop to examine everything and then the millions of questions that draw you into relationship with them. The adult in us feels we must always have the answer but if we can connect with our own inner child then we will connect with theirs as well. The "fact" that the sky is blue is not nearly as interesting as "how" blue it is.
    My wife and I have decided that when our kids begin to give us grand children and they come for a visit, that we will always have a mystery to look at. The solving part is not as important as the discovery part. When as adults we create avatars of ourselves this is not discovery this is an attempt to hide from ourselves. Children so wonderfully assume that everyone is on their team and cares about them. Although this poses risks for safety and I am not suggesting blind trust and acceptance, I am advocating for developing ways that build interest in all tht is around us including others and just as we accept that the grass is green we learn to wonderfully accept others without the limitations of expectations.
  • Sep 21 2013: i am not against this class but hasn't this been tried before at many different grade levels with many degrees of success? I wonder what lead to the success or failures of those programs.

    There is a major lack of empathy and I wonder how you would teach it - especially empathy for those you do not know or are in a different culture, country, class, etc.
  • Sep 21 2013: Know Thyself 101
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    Sep 20 2013: In theory this idea is great, but I think you are forgetting something: most adults to not understand emotions and the nuances of human relationships themselves. I don't think this is simply a symptom of our time. In fact, I would argue that we are much more aware (perhaps dangerously TOO aware) of our emotions than decades, centuries, and even millenniums past. Consider the Ancient Greeks. Were there not just as many failures in love and broken hearts?

    Daniel Quinn, in his novel "My Ishmael" enlightens readers to the idea that humans learn naturally. We are hardwired to learn from observation and experience. Quinn argues that schooling can sometimes inhibit natural learning, and I am inclined to agree with him. I don't think that "the meaning of love" can be taught, as you say. Enter a social philosophy class and you can argue about the definition of love until the cows come home, you may not find out what it means to YOU until you experience it for yourself.
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      Sep 20 2013: I absolutely agree with you Leilah. We cannot teach our children about love. You misunderstood me. :) I never said anything about teaching them the meaning of love. We can't teach our children the meaning of love. They have to find it out themselves through personal experience, but we sure can guide them in the right direction!

      A wise man once said that there are two ways to learn things. One is through personal experience, the other and more smarter way is to learn from other people's experiences. Wouldn't it be nice if children had the knowledge of our experiences to help them make their own decisions? Yes they would learn from their own experiences but they would be in a better position to choose the right things in life.

      Coming to awareness about emotions, yes in theory and in textbooks we are more aware about our emotions than our forebears but then again too much knowledge can be dangerous too! We have unnecessarily complicated simple things. We are delving into the deeper meaning of things when often a simple understand is all that is needed. This extra knowledge has totally confused everyone. We need to uncomplicate things.

      Considering the ancient Greeks, yes there were many failures in love and broken hearts too. My questions is, why can't we learn from history and try to change things? Why should we just accept such things as the norm? Why can't we try to change things?

      Humans learn naturally but looking at the world around us what do you think they observe and learn? Crime, divorce, anger, war, hatred, corruption! We are at a junction in history where we need to set things in order by teaching our children things that they wouldn't find around them.

      I totally agree with whatever you've said and really respect your views but the times are such that they demand such measures. Schools are absolutely inhibiting natural learning and that is why we need to move away from science and arts to a more human approach to education. :)

      Do give your views. :)
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        Sep 21 2013: Rohit, in another comment you said “had someone taught me the meaning of love at that age maybe that relationship wouldn't have ended so bad.” Perhaps this is why I misunderstood. You said that the adults in your life at the time told you not to enter a relationship with this girl and that seemed to be the wrong approach. As an exercise, I’m curious, what would have been a better approach? As an adult with more knowledge about love, what would you say to your former self to prevent that heartbreak?

        I agree completely, it is smarter to learn from the experiences of others than just from our own. And I think it is a great idea to teach more about life in schools that just arts and sciences. I myself have been saying that for years! I think the difficulty would be finding experts in this subject. Experts in math and science have studied those subjects for years and their knowledge is easily testable. Where would we go about finding experts on love, emotion, relationships, and empathy? How can we be sure that the teachers really understand the subject enough to teach it to our youth?
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          Sep 21 2013: Thank you for pointing that out Leilah. Yes I did mention that I would have loved it had someone told me about love back then but I would be foolish to believe that you can teach the meaning of love to children. As an adult though I would teach my former self that love is about giving and not taking. Love doesn't feel jealous and is not possessive.

          You see one of the reasons why that relationship ended was because I was too jealous and possessive. In the end she just dumped. When I look back now I find it silly that I was so jealous and possessive. Tell me your first boyfriend was as jealous and possessive! At that stage we misunderstand a lot of things about love. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone to guide us in our journey towards finding the true meaning of life? :)

          As a teacher I have tried my best to teach youngsters how to form meaningful relationships. I can't say I have succeeded 100%. I haven't even succeeded 50%, but yes I have seen a difference in the lives of the children I have been associated with.

          Regarding finding experts, we got to start somewhere. Our world didn't come up with math and science experts overnight. These subjects gradually became mainstream subjects after decades, maybe centuries of learning. If we start now, someday we'll have human science taught as a separate branch of studies and there will be experts on this subject too.

          For now I believe we have to have to set up a research team and come up with a definite plan. The next step would be to convince schools to include this subject as a core subject. Then we have to go about training the current teachers as best as we can. We have to make a start somewhere, don't we?
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        Sep 23 2013: Yes! I do think we need to start somewhere! And I love your optimistic attitude :) I hope you realize that I only play devil's advocate in order to encourage progress. We must ask ourselves these difficult questions in order to get anywhere. It is not simply enough to say "we should start this program in schools" without analyzing what exactly we would teach and who exactly would teach it.
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          Sep 23 2013: Leilah I really appreciate your opinions and your comments. We really need people like you to give realistic goals to dreamers like me. :) I have a dream and a vision which I want to share with everyone. I dream of a better world like everyone else. I can't make it better on my own, but together we stand a good chance. :)
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      Sep 20 2013: Leilah, I agree that we are hard wired to learn by observation and some of us more than others. I also agree that a lot of parents are not fit to teach these complex issues to their children. That is exactly why teaching human behavior in schools would be beneficial. Just like children from illiterate families would not have a chance to get educated if you took that approach for human behavior. You don't have to teach love or hate because those are feelings that come from within; however you can teach about autism and let the non autistic children learn why the autistic child behaves in a certain way and how he might behave socially awkward but still have mental capacities that the normal children don't. Men know this days how women act differently at a certain time of the month due to hormonal causes. Kids would benefit to know that the kid that acts like a bully does it maybe to hide a personal feeling of insecurity, that some kids are introverts or timid...but they are worth being your friend as much as the cool extroverts...
      These just to give a few examples. Some people have and intrinsic talent to understand human motivation but some people don't and they need to be thought...and literacy in this area would benefit every one
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        Sep 21 2013: There is so much for me to learn from you Anairda. Life has certainly taught you many lessons and you seem to have learnt them well. This is exactly what I mean when I say we should teach our child human behavior in schools. We don't have to teach them how the human mind works or the theories on emotions. It should be more practical and should involve sharing our collective experiences with them. It's as simple as that! It could involve real life experiences, case studies, role playing, etc.

        I don't know how things are in Europe and the US, but here in India things are bad. Neither parents nor teachers set a good example for the children. When children grow up seeing corruption all around them, they end up thinking that it's fine to pay a bribe. When they grow up, it doesn't hurt their conscience to accept and pay brides to get their work done. We need to teach them to think for themselves. We need them to understand that we can create a better world.
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        Sep 21 2013: Anairda, I like this idea as well, of teaching children about autism and the underlying emotions of bullies and the meaning of introverts and extroverts. This all sounds great! I would like to point out that ALL of these topics would easily be covered in a basic psychology class. Sure, we can restructure the class a bit so that it is a bit more practical and less theoretical, but I think the basic idea is there: children will learn to understand the behaviors of others and hopefully therefore empathize.

        I think what I’m getting at is that perhaps we do not need to create an entire new field of study, but just focus on the restructuring of subjects in schools. Focus on what subjects take priority. For example, I did not take a psychology class, was not even offered a class in psychology, until high school! If psychology is introduced at a younger age it might help to encourage empathy among youngsters. But this is just one idea …

        I also think a major flaw in our education system, which adds to the inhibition of natural learning, is the concept of teaching through and lecturing as opposed to discussion and thinking! Perhaps philosophy should also be introduced at a younger age! This would encourage children to think for themselves, creatively and logically, and perhaps reflect on life more so that they can better learn from experience.
  • Sep 18 2013: I would just love to echo everything you said. It is so needed and much more useful than some of the subjects they are learning in school now. Love this idea
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      Sep 19 2013: Thank you Camille. I just wish that more people will understand and see the relevance of the idea as you do. I speak from personal experience rather than just musing over things in my leisure time. Let me share one of my school experiences with you. As a kid I was always terribly afraid of girls. No one ever told me that girls don't bit. I literally never spoke to girls until I was in grade 10. I had my first girl friend in grade 11. All of a sudden everyone, including my mom, grownups and my teachers, began telling me that this wasn't the age to love, having a girl friend was wrong, and so on.

      I was like come on, she was my first girl friend! I wasn't going to let her go just because they said it was wrong. I was in an experimental phase. I just defied orders and did not give a damn to their advice. She did end up ditching me and I ended up with bi-polar affective disorder for about two years after that experience. I dropped out of school for a year, and had a tough time getting back on track.

      My point is, had someone taught me the meaning of love at that age maybe that relationship wouldn't have ended so bad. Maybe we would have always been friends (I haven't seen her in over 10 years now). By telling me not to do it, everyone just made me more determined to do it. That bitter experience really had an impact on my life and the way I viewed women and handled relationships for a long time to come. Only recently I've learnt the true meaning of love and I'm still learning about human relationships.

      My point is, instead of telling our kids not to do something, why can't we teach them how to do it the right way? Everyone told me that love will hurt because they would have gone through break ups themselves. But had they used their experiences to guide me into making a meaningful relations my life would have been entirely different now. This is just one of those many experiences I have to share.

      We need to teach our kids about life and not just arts and sciences.