Following the implementation of our (Nexos Comunitarios) ‘Kick-Off’ project (video), I decided to write a series of articles dedicated to the issue of education and sport with the intention to help us explain our vision and hopes towards this project. At the same time, I would l like to apply my own thoughts and ideas.
This topic of education and sport (the essence of play) is something that deeply captures my attention and gives rise to my own aspirations. It would take much longer than a single article to explain everything so I have divided my articles into five sections.
Theme 1: “Education”
Theme 2: “Sport and the Essence of Play”
Theme 3: “Education x Play”
Theme 4: “Education x Play = Gateway for international development”
Theme 5: “Origin of the Kick-Off Project and the origins of my dream Asobi-Gokoro”
I will be posting each article weekly. In these articles, I will be reflecting on my personal experience to explain my ideas. However, it is my intention to introduce you to the root of the implementation of our Kick-Off project. I am confident in saying that this is not just any ‘good project’, but that we are introducing a potentially amazing project.
Before we get into the content, I want to share a small thing about myself. I am enthusiastic about this topic and I always wanted to share my belief with others. But, my discreet personality, being Japanese, has made me little hesitant towards openly sharing my ideas on social media. Also, I often felt it needed to be perfectly written to be approved of and praised by others. But I have realized this perfectionist ideal of mine is doing no good for me, so I have changed my mind. It is like having lifted a huge burden from my shoulders. You will find it soon enough, but I will be writing this article in a very frank way as I speak for several reasons. One, I believe it conveys my message much easier and clearer for everyone. Two, it allows me to be open and transparent with my ideas. Three, it just makes my life easier by writing in the style that I am most comfortable with.
So I’m sure it is not perfectly written, but I’m pretty happy to have it this way.
First, thank you to those who have read my first article. If you haven’t, please click here to check before you start to read this article. Last week, I wrote an article introducing Good Education -> Good Job theory. This week, I will write about the new Good Education -> Good Human theory. I hope you enjoy reading!
Theme 1 “Education”
Good Education -> Good Human theory
“…This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength and knows compassion… Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing, that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”
I recently started to watch the Marvel series to prepare myself for the new Avenger 4: Endgame. The Avengers is basically a bunch of superheroes coming together to fight against a villain to save the world. This is one of my favourite conversations from “Captain America: The First Avenger”. Dr. Erskine explains the reason why he has chosen Steve Rogers (a regular kid from Brooklyn) to give the superpower (click here to watch the video). After receiving the superpower, Steve Rogers becomes Captain America and saves the world. I love this quote because it really shows the reason why they are superheroes. They are not superheroes just because of their superpower. They are superheroes because they are good human beings with a superpower. Not a perfect person, but a good human. A bad human being with a superpower would be a perfect fit to be a villain in the movie for sure.
In this article, I will first explain my Good Education -> Good Human theory by applying the model based on the example of superheroes. Then, I will discuss the importance of good human education and how we can achieve that. Finally, I will share with you a personal experience from my middle school days that gave me an important lesson on good human education.
Good Human theory to become a superhero>
Superheroes are our idols. I believe they show the model of the successful life that we envision. Unfortunately, there is no superpower in our daily lives. No-one can arm oneself with a fancy red battle suit made of iron, have the random old mythological hammer that somehow has mighty power, or can turn into a green monster with extraordinary physical strength. In our world, knowledge is power. Although you might think money is power, I personally see them as the external thing that gives you power. To put into context, I see knowledge as the internal power such as your physical strength or superpower. Money is like any weapon such as a machine gun, that gives you external power. But once you lose the weapon, you become just a regular man. So, I understand that the real power of a human being is knowledge, not money.
To put into context, according to the Good Education -> Good Job theory, we focus children to strengthen their power to become superheroes. This is important, but it often puts aside a focus on them developing their own personality. Remember, a good man is the foundation to be a superhero. What we need is what I call ‘good human education’, where children grow to be a person with a good heart. We are all born with full of potential to become superheroes. Meanwhile, we are all born with a seed that can lead us to become a villain, which is based on our ego. Without a good human education, the ego will take over a child to become an ego-centric villain who will deceive others for their own benefits. Indeed many of our social problems are caused by our egos. Thus, we must prioritize good human education more (without compromising the development of their knowledge) for the children to use their power in the correct way – for them to then become superheroes. Being a good human does not guarantee that one will become a superhero. However, it is an indispensable foundation upon which they can become one. This is my Good Education -> Good Human theory. Before I continue, I want to say that perhaps I have oversimplified the human complexity by explaining my theory based on just knowledge, and personality. I am aware there are other forces such as ignorance, emotion or one’s environment that makes reality more complicated. But I hope I was able to convey my point by in an understandable manner by using the superhero analogy.
Good human education becomes so important not just for the individual to have full-filled life, but it is also crucial for international development. And that is why it led NC to come up with our Kick-Off project; to focus on good human education by building cognitive and non-cognitive skills amongst children in order to combat poverty in the long run. But I will further discuss this point in my Theme 4: Education x Play = Gateway for International Development.
Now, I want to turn to the following question: how exactly will good human education will look like? Well, I will be honest. I do not have a concise and clear definition at the moment. I see it as a process that allows us to be a good human who develops principles such as integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, modesty, compassion and empathy. To put it simply, basically, it is education that allows us to be like “Captain America”. I’m sure you get my point. I believe good human education starts with good parenting. I am grateful for my mom and dad and how they raised me. My mom told me how to be compassionate, and my dad showed me how to be courageous. They have made me the foundation of who I am today. Meanwhile, I still believe school also has a huge role in good human education. In my case, I received an amazing good human education in my middle school in Canada.
If anyone asks me “What was the best moment of your life?”, I would answer, “My 2 years in middle school” within a second. My amazing memory of 2 years started as I moved to Ottawa for the first time. For a kid who was born and raised in Japan, moving to a multicultural society was an eye-opening experience. Unlike my brother, who had diligently studied English to prepare himself for a new environment, I was too busy playing with my friends in Tokyo. So, I was put into an English Second Language (ESL) class and wasn’t able to neither understand nor speak for about a year. My friend remembers me as a quiet Japanese kid. Luckily enough, despite the language barriers, I was absolutely in love with this school in Ottawa. There are many reasons, but if I were to say it in one word, I would say because of the “Safety Space”. This is a space where we truly feel secured based on a strong sense of trust. We develop our “Safety Space” built upon our mutual trust. It is a special space where we become free and open. I like to imagine it as a dorm with sky blue walls. It is transparent from the inside but it is invisible from the outside. There is no gravity exists in the area and it is full of fresh and warm air. It provides us with a sense of security and it uplifts the body and my heart and I can experience true joy. At the same time, this is where the most valuable learning experience happens as you expose your open heart to others. It does not appear from one day to another. It is only formed through accumulating small trust in building actions between one person and another. The stronger the trust is, the more comfortable you feel in the “SafetySpace”.
You probably have built this “Safety Space” with your best friends from school or with your family members in the house. But it is relatively rare to have the “Safety Space” in a classroom environment. What it made special about my middle school was that our teachers particularity valued building a “Safe Space” in our classroom. I was particularly lucky because our ESL teachers immensely invested their time of building “Safety Space”. I have had some great teachers in my elementary, high school, and university, but nothing was like my ESL classroom. I can tell you that not many teachers are able to do this. And what makes a great teacher different from others is that they know the importance of such a space and that they have the courage to invest a great amount of their time and effort in building a “Safety Space”. And this is the classroom environment where good human education takes place.
I believe there were quite a few of us who have grown ourselves through a “Safety Space”. But there was this one Afghani guy who I believe particularly benefited from this environment. He is one of my best friends who moved to Canada at the same time as I did. He was a child labourer and never received any formal education in his home town. In our school, he was always the trouble maker, both inside and outside of the school. When I first saw him, I was a little scared because he looked like just a crazy and angry kid. Although we were very different, we soon became very close through playing volleyball and established our own “Safety Space”. I soon realized that I had a deep respect for him. Although I had much better grades, there was one thing I always admired him for. He was courageous. Although he was causing problems every minute, he always had the guts to stand up for what he believed was the right thing to do. I still remember the day when we went out to get Poutine (Canadian food mixed of fries, cheese, and gravy sauce) in place near our school, while we were waiting in a line, there was this guy staring at us with a disgusted face. We soon felt very uncomfortable, and that’s when my friend stepped up and simply told: “can’t you stop staring at us?” He responded furiously and the situation escalated. The guy stood up and grabbed my friend but he didn’t back up and they started to fight. Now I think back, the guy was probably either an alcoholic or a drug addict in the way he was reacting. And what I was doing? Well, I was trying to stop the fight but I think I was of no use. Meanwhile, another friend from our group made a clever move to ran back to the school and brought back teachers to settle the problem. I should have done that.
If you are from my middle school, you probably know who I am referring to.
Although my Afghani friend had my deep respect, he himself had to go through many difficult moments in the school as he had never attended a school before in his life. Doing math, reading, writing or just simply sitting down for an hour was sometimes too much for him. Seeing him having problems, what our teacher did first was to build a “Safety Space” for us to be a good human, and also to do good academically. And that was something he needed at that time, the most. I am sure that he had the deepest respect for them just like I had, and still do. Also, I am sure he learned many things by just looking up to our teachers. Starting from being an angry, crazy, little boy during the two-year period, I have seen him becoming a more responsible, disciplined, and compassionate person. This was just an example of how I have seen one of my friends receiving good human education. But I am quite certain that all of my friends (including my teachers) who enjoyed having a strong “Safety Space” have learned many, many, MANY important things from each other. To paraphrase the quote from Dr. Erskine: “Not a perfect student, but a good man.”
Good human education is like a process without the end to it. I have demonstrated how good human education can happen in school but it goes beyond that. Every single one of us is in still in the process of receiving good human education. How is that possible to receive an education without being in an educational institution? Well, I will discuss this in my next article.
It was a bit of a long article but thanks so much for reading. And I would appreciate it A LOT if you could let me know your comments or thoughts 🙂