Teaching social responsibility to children : What do we teach them and how?

We are school hunting for Migu now, and one of the things which stuck me in my exhaustive research was how schools were trying to promote social responsibility among children. There are definitely good attempts now, compared to when I was a kid, but again, why are most of these attempts focusing on fundraising.

I have nothing against fundraising. It is one of my core responsibilities in my organization and I would dearly love these children to adopt my cause and raise funds for us. And ways of raising funds have definitely changed in recent years. Kids train for runs, go out on cycles, sell tickets for events or even make something themselves and sell them to raise money for other children who are under privileged. All very nice and worthy.

But as I said, is that all? Do we teach our kids to be socially responsible consumers. Do we teach them about conserving natural resources. It is not just about crackers and diwali. It is about being careful in our expenditure of any form of resources.

There was an exercise which I was part of during a child rights workshop. I experienced it almost as an adult, but it still had a very profound effect on me. I am sure it will impact children. It was a fairly simple one.

THe trainer drew a big circle. He then handed lots of balls to the first few participants, and said anything they threw within the big circle was theirs. Predictably, participants made the maximum out of it.

Next round, he drew a smaller circle and fewer balls left which went to the next lot of participants. Same rules, and the participants got some balls, though it was fewer than the first lot.

Next round, circle becomes really small and balls also very few. Predictably, this group had the fewest number of balls.

What did this exercise teach me. That with limited resources, there were some of us who had a disproportionate right over the resources, compared to others.

This is a lesson which has stayed with me. I dont claim that I never do wasteful expenditure, but I am at least cautious about it, and reflect for a moment about the use of any resource.

Isn’t this caution a primary aspect of being socially responsible? And where are we teaching our kids this? Instead we are focusing endlessly on fundraising, which is in itself part of a endlessly consumerist cycle.

Dear kids, dont get me wrong. I totally appreciate all the efforts you are making on behalf of people who may not have the things you take as necessities. But your role is not just about collecting resources so that these kids can get these resources, your role is also about being judicious in your utilization of the opportunities given to you, so that many other kids can also use the opportunities.

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