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A Moment of Sharing- Should Happiness be the North Star of our Education Systems?

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Conversation with Thakur Singh Powdyel, Author of My Green School


If you were asked to identify your Education System’s most important goal, how would you define it? And if you were given the opportunity to set up a dream goal, would it be the same?! Are your thoughts right now flying somewhere between skills development, career readiness, individuals’ potential, active citizenship, social changemaking… or happiness?! Where should our Education Systems effectively find their North Star if we do not forget the still noble role of Education in the challenging chaordic world we live in?

Thakur Powdyel, former Minister of Education for the Kingdom of Bhutan, invites us to deep dive into Education’s dream goals and purposes in this inspiring conversation with Ho-Dac Tuc. He reminds us Education is an extremely important nation sub-system that ought to embrace and foster the global national development goals, considering its crucial role of empowering people and societies for the common good, by cultivating nobleness of mind, heart and hands. He states this honourable preposition is being forgotten in most Education Systems that set career readiness as the unique goal for formal learning; even when these systems go beyond the most traditional curricula, and aim at developing generative competencies – whatever the framework in use –, they do so to reinforce and strengthen connections between students and the needs and requirements of the labour market. This mindset tends to miss out other social, cultural, environmental and civilizational needs that should also be considered if Education is expected to contribute to make the world a better place and a one to still live in.

If a holistic and more comprehensive approach could drive our Education Systems, their North Star could indeed be much more connected to the noble purpose of Education – the one of being effectively transformative for people’s lives, both individually and collectively. No matter whether it’s underlined as Happiness as in the Kingdom of Bhutan, or as Empowering Changemaking as prompted by Ashokas’ Transformative Schools Network, or even Equity as the Finland Education states as a baseline, we do believe they are all looking for a fundamental educational outcome we call Meaning – for individuals, for the society, for the world –, reached through an insightful and mindful combination of nourishing ingredients – academic skills that are transferable to everyday life, empathy, ethics, wise and servant leadership… This is the North Star of all our pedagogical approach!

We really believe we should move on faithfully, not forgetting David W. Orr’s statement:

“It is not education, but education of a certain kind, that will serve us. And the current model of western, urban-centred, school-based education, which is so often more focused on turning children into efficient corporate units rather than curious and open-minded adults, will only lead us further down…”



Contribution by:

Ana Paulino and Ana Mouta, the editors of A Moment of Sharing, are Pedagogy Specialists at jp.ik.

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