Friday, 22 July 2016

Importance of Healthy Eating Needs to Be Imbibed At School Level- But Is It Really Happening

It was my first Boss’s bday, this time I was in no mood to send her FB greetings, but decided to call her after all  it had been 11 long years, since we last met or spoke. 
No guesses on that, Obviously she was surprised and was super happy that we were talking. 

She is now CEO for a health based organization that deals with preventive heart care methodologies. Ah! Yes my first job was with a health care based organization and I used to meet the top cardiac anesthetist of India in various hospitals. And now I am in a different field all together- education and working with teachers and principal all across the country. To be honest, I am not qualified or certified or have any kind of degrees for any of these fields. I am hard core management graduate, so probably I do know how to manage these fields which were not even my core subjects of the degrees I attained in any way...

Well the discussion we were having was how her organization has devised a protocol to prevent heart attacks and how they were working closely with corporate as well as rural India to make them aware of these problems. My ex boss who is also a certified nutritionist now, and I were just exchanging notes how I have been able to lose over 14 plus kgs of weight in just 4 months time, with a slight change in my dietary patterns... That’s when it struck me if only we could decide to bring this awareness about importance of right eating at school level too. That’s also one of the objectives of education- to be able to perceive or anticipate how a certain action can create problems or solve one; in this case the focus being our health- after all we learn in school only ‘health is wealth’! The point we need to get across to children is WHY?

Last year during one of the Dastak workshops at one of the school, the teachers got us a small plate of aloo chat for me and my colleague. They told us excitedly, “We have hobby classes and one of them is fire-less cooking, children made this today in their class.” That’s when the Questioning Bug in me popped out aloud, “So what is the objective of teaching them in this cooking class.” She replied, “Oh ma’am! Children learn a new skill; you see we are integrating core life skills here! Learning to cook is a very important skill needed to live a good life. So it’s a very important life skill. Our School really works on imbibing life skills. That’s why you see, we are participating in Dastak.” The confidence and conviction, with which this was being said, made me re think if I have really understood the meaning of core life skills till now or not. The persistent and resistant questioner in me popped out again, “Glad to see you all are incorporating life skills in schools, but I was just thinking how do you connect it with your curriculum, because life skills have to be integrated with syllabus also, otherwise its of no use to the students! They need to learn to develop the connecting conduits between these skills and the information, how will they learn higher order thinking skills.” As usual there was an eerie silence in the room as if they had seen something they did not want to come out from the closed doors of their minds. The sparkle along with the beaming confidence in their eyes suddenly turned to a big blank question which they have all been struggling to find since ages.

Somewhere, I felt guilty for this expression on their faces, but on the other side, I felt quite happy, playing  the devil’s advocate had actually set them thinking in the right direction. Though I knew what the answer was, but my objective was to make them realize and face the challenge rather than brush it under the carpet like they have been doing for years.

 I continued with my suggestion, “ Madam, will it not be great if in these cooking classes the teacher in charge also told them why & how the ingredients involved in the recipe were important to making their body healthy. If information from the science books was also included in real cooking I suppose we would be more conscious about our eating and cooking habits as we grow older.” Well this is just one more example of how you evoke self awareness, one of the ten core life skills among students as well as oneself.” Obviously, the answer from them was- we never ever thought that ways.

Well! I think then it's time we start thinking like that if we really want a Strong & Healthy India.

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