This September, it will be one and half years since I crossed any international border. Being an international school teacher, one of the much-awaited times of the year is the summer or winter holidays, when expats like me cross many boundaries to reach our destinations. I remember a time when I took 14 flights in 40 days to cross some rustic, some familiar and some sought after boundaries. Many a time I was asked uncomfortable questions, like “How did you get the visa?” or ”Why are you travelling alone?”. There was even one time when my son and I were detained by the airport immigration authorities for 2 hours as they wanted to verify our details! Privileges I have enjoyed being a person of colour. Yet it still didn’t deter me or my family from crossing or I would say Breaking Boundaries!
Incidentally, Breaking Boundaries is a Netflix series on safeguarding the future of the planet. I would like to use it as an analogy for safeguarding the present state of the planet. Boundaries were created to bring peace and order to the world, but have they? Boundaries have created weaponised armies, infantry and artillery, discrimination, xenophobia and genocide. This imaginary line has only severed the umbilical cord of humans from humanity. It’s high time we consider Breaking Boundaries, literally and metaphorically.
Whilst we cannot get rid of this imaginary line, we can make it less rigid and easy to break through, and this has to start in our early years, as early as possible. Most of our formative knowledge is constructed in school, therefore, action needs to be taken in educating children for Breaking Boundaries.
Language – Learning different languages is a great way of breaking boundaries, it teaches compassion, tolerance and a perspective to understand the world. We can never have one language for all and we can never learn all languages to understand all, but we can have one way of understanding all languages-empathy. The fact that at the core of every conversation is a need to be understood. Teach children to communicate and listen to other people, teach them to collaborate across boundaries to blur the lines.
Sports – The recent Tokyo Olympics has been exemplary in reminding us how team sports helps in breaking boundaries. It reminded us that borders cannot define us even though we are segregated, grouped and claimed by borders. The team spirit and the spirit of camaraderie wins the overall differences created by borders. Sports teaches us the value of sacrifice, the contentment in celebrating other people’s achievements and recognising the empathetic side of the human spirit.
Interdisciplinary teaching – Training the brain to bring in separate ideas is the main objective of interdisciplinary learning. It is the type of learning that breaks the subject boundaries to bring together separate disciplines around common themes, issues, or problems. If we train our students to learn from an interdisciplinary point of view, they will look beyond boundaries and come together to work around issues plaguing humanity. They will not hesitate in breaking borders for the better.
At the core of Breaking Boundaries lies a key message of action – come together for breaking boundaries that limit, discriminate and determine human identity. Don’t scar the Earth with ugly boundaries, blur the imaginary line to imagine new frontiers of friendship, collaboration, empathy and above all survival.