Culture and history carry on through time only if coming generations are informed about them.
If the future was to be personified, we’d see it in our children. On a familial level, we constantly try to embed within our children positive values that reflect our upbringing. While principles such as sharing and caring are essential to a child’s development, it is of equal importance to instill the willingness to learn, appreciate and love cultural and historical values as well. Evidently, culture and history carry on through time only if coming generations are informed about them. Although the existence of written text plays a role, oral and practical passage carries a human element that cannot be replicated through other mediums.
Canadian intellectual, Marshall McLuhan, had said, “The medium is the message.” Put simply, if we depend on books to carry culture and history, they will be limited to merely paper. To truly capture and preserve the richness and sanctity of our beliefs and practices – especially when pertaining to children – practice is important. The old adage of ‘monkey see, monkey do’ goes a long way with the little ones. During festivals and celebrations, parents should take the time to perform rituals and traditions in the presence of children. That said, children can only become attached to culture if they are participants, not observers. Putting aside the worry of children making a mistake, it is important to maintain a level of comfort so that kids are enthusiastic and eager to take part in cultural activities, hands on, without fear of backlash.
Actions are only half the victory, however. The most crucial element of instilling culture and history in the hearts of children lies not in the how, but in the why. Rather than keeping an event at its face value of what it offers, family conversations need to divulge into the meaning behind them. For instance, the Vaisakhi parade itself lies beyond just the performances, free food and crowds. Regardless of its contemporary interpretation, there is a historical significance that children must be exposed to.
However, history and culture should not be thought of as a curriculum or checklist. If forced, education can become boring or tiresome for kids. Meet your children in the middle by understanding how they best learn. To create an engaging and interactive experience, implement the following tips:
1. Invite and answer questions: Create an approachable atmosphere where children are not afraid to be wrong. Do not brush off any question as not good enough and be patient.
2. Use personal stories: Recount your childhood experiences as a method to weave cultural and historical references. Children will be all ears the moment you tell them you have a story.
3. Change it up: Utilize access to multiple aids, such as films, board games, storybooks and even grandparents! Showcase flexibility. To instill love for culture and history, find out what they already love and create a positive association.
Evidently, instilling love for one’s roots is not attained overnight. It is a continuous process – a lifestyle. Undoubtedly, though, it is of utmost importance. Festivals are not solely entertainment; they offer a sense of belonging and carry years of social value. In today’s global community, social awareness about one’s culture and history is only possible if personal awareness exists. By instilling deep knowledge and appreciation in children, we can ensure that future generations stay truly connected to their roots.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Naina Grewal is a youth radio show host on Red FM and is pursuing a Business and Communication Joint Major at SFU as a student on the President’s and Dean’s Honour Roll. Recently recognized as Surrey Board of Trade’s Top 25 Under 25, Naina is an engaged community volunteer, passionate about creating dialogue, and stirring youth involvement.