Civic Sense…. Is it too early to start?

One of the traditions of Japanese education is that students do soji (cleaning). Soji starts after lunch and lasts for about 20 minutes. This happens 4 times a week and on the last day of each term, there is a longer cleaning called o-soji (big cleaning). Throughout cleaning time, music is played to develop enthusiasm and energy. Each class is responsible for cleaning its own classroom and two other places in the school.

Civic sense is nothing but social ethics or the unspoken norms of society. It is about keeping the roads, streets and public property clean. It is about using the resources provided to us effectively. It is about abiding by the laws. It is about respecting others point of view and maintaining decorum in public places.

Civic sense like the other 5 senses is not what the children are born with but this sense is something that children need to inculcate and be taught right from an early age. Having value education as one of the subjects won’t suffice but children actually doing it and seeing it is what they would follow and inculcate for life.

To inculcate civic sense, 3 simple things need to be followed:

  • There has to be a shift in attitude – We need to teach children to be tolerant. We need to teach them to wait for their turns and share for the good of the class/home. This attitude developed from an early age helps at large when they function actively as part of the bigger society. At Jumpstart, following traffic rules become part of their day at school as a road with zebra crossing and traffic signal is part of the infrastructure. Children are taught, encouraged to follow traffic rules. Jumpstart star behaviour flash cards put in the entire school encourage children to close tap when not in use, wait for their turn and share to get the right attitude in children.
  • Along with personal goals, civic goals need to be given importance – Our education focuses a lot on achieving personal goals like scoring well in exam to excel. Appreciation is given only when personal goals are achieved. Civic goals can get its due importance by getting enough appreciation for following it. There should be enough extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to follow it. Every time the child shows inclination to do good for the society, the decision needs to be appreciated. A constant communication about civic goals will make children more receptive about achieving them. Eg: If a wrapper lies unattended on the road, encourage the child to pick it up and put it in the dustbin. With this attitude, the child know that even if he or she has not thrown it, it is still their responsibility to keep the society clean.
  • We need to be the role models – It all starts from us as we are the major influence in the child’s life. Children copy us, imitate use and mirror us all the time. To do well, all they need are people who practice what they preach. They need us to follow all rules and regulations without exceptions. Rule broken once for whatever reason gives the child an opportunity to break it and not follow it many more times.
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