Yesterday, I wrote about teaching philosophy to children: Jellyfish and Winnie The Pooh. Several people messaged me to ask “Why? They are already too busy with the subjects they have to learn to pass exams.”
I agree wholeheartedly with not burdening young children with more ‘work’, but learning does not have to be in the classroom. In fact, it is most effective when it is outside the classroom, when it happens in conversation and unscripted. Let is not forget, learning is not solely for the purpose of passing exams.
The example below illustrates why philosophy helps us to live better lives:
Here’s a secret: I never enjoyed yoga, though I have a committed practice spanning more than two decades. I have never felt exhilarated about yoga the way I do about running, perhaps because for me, being cooped in an airless room for 90 minutes is a sacrilege when there is the blazing sun or invigorating rain outside. But applying the three principles of philosophy that I wrote about yesterday (link here):
I go for yoga because I need to work on my small muscles, in particular, the ones of my neck and hamstrings. In class, I consciously focus on those muscles, visualising them stretching and lengthening slowly but surely – the elongation of my neck muscles in certain poses, the relaxation of my corresponding shoulder muscles and moving mindfully centimetre by centimetre in forward bends to stretch my hamstrings.
I don’t enjoy being confined indoors, in an airless room and being told what to do. I often don’t enjoy the niggling pain in my tight muscles which simply won’t cooperate with me. But that is life, is it not? If I cannot cope with the ‘suffering’ in the relative comfort of a yoga studio, how could I cope with the adversities of the outside world? By understanding that I have to embrace the unpleasant feelings and bear the ‘pain’, I learn a little more about life each time (and how to cope with it).
It is easy to feel ‘at one’ with nature – the sea breeze, the stunning sunset, the beautiful vista arouse that poetic, almost spiritual perspective in us all. But to feel at one with smelly, sweaty carpets? Glaring, fluorescent lights? But I have to. Because the universe is all experiences, not just lovely ones.
And my 16-year-old daughter exclaims, “I think the same things when I have to do something I don’t enjoy!”
So, there is a lot of value in understanding, rationalising, accepting and finally, surrendering to what is. Hence the value of philosophy for all, not just children.