This video series on how Japanese kids are taught compassion sparked a thought. A good friend of mine and mentor, George, often discusses with me his vision of what schools should be like. He tells me that they should go beyond the formal institutions that they are now and teach necessary life skills. In some ways, community colleges seem to address this more than many prestigious universities. They’re practical and down to earth.
George was a dropout who lived off the streets for almost a decade before picking himself up and becoming a successful entrepreneur. I myself took the opposite route – I went to university, finished a challenging engineering degree, and did the grind until I realized it was not for me. I also realized almost all the heavy theory I learned in school had no practical application in the workplace. Many of my colleagues told me the same. For the people skills that I really needed, I had to go out and learn them on my own – through traveling, taking Toastmasters, social dynamics, etc.
So when George and I converge and talk about school, we come from two different backgrounds but see eye to eye. George tells me he ultimately hopes to contribute to society by building his vision of a school – one that teaches social skills, life skills, coping with failure, taking risks, etc. I truly hope it happens. If it does, then I hope the lessons in compassion taught to Japanese grade-schoolers in that video are included as a mandatory course.