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Interview with Dr. Thubten Jinpa: How Ladakhi Students Can Benefit from SEL

Updated: Jul 14, 2020



This past February, before the NAHE Conference at Columbia was put on hold due to COVID-19, Dr. Thubten Jinpa graciously agreed to sit down with Ms. Laura Kozaitis to share his ideas on new approaches in Himalayan education. The discussion, conducted in New York City, addressed many important issues and went on for nearly 30 minutes. This week I will share with you all a 10 minute segment from the meeting where Dr. Jinpa shares insightful views on the Indian education system, the parenting styles of Ladakhi and Tibetan parents, and the importance of social-emotional learning in schools as well as at home. Their exchange is especially relevant now, mainly because social-emotional learning and mental health are subjects that have been highlighted during this pandemic. I am trying my best to stay calm and happy by working out, talking to friends, going for walks, and trying to have productive days where my emotional energy goes into my work. I hope you all are coping with the pandemic with your own effective mechanisms. I imagine it to be quite challenging for students in Ladakh to be stuck at home. Recently, my friend and I were talking about how school was an escape from home. We loved school because of our classmates and friends, not because of studying. Social relationships are crucial to good mental health, and at school, we were able to find comfort in our peers. However, it is important to note that peers should not be the only resource that supports students during trying times.


Dr. Jinpa made me think about the inflexibility of the Ladakhi education system and inherited culture, both of which are very hard to navigate, especially with mental health issues. Conversations around mental health are considered to be taboo or irrelevant. A child needs to be nourished mentally, with a supportive and encouraging, yet challenging, environment to be able to confront the future without any limitations. As Dr. Jinpa pointed out, social and emotional learning correlates with excellent academic achievement. It can be a tool for Ladakhi students who would compete with students from other parts of India or the world.


Social-emotional learning also allows students to build critical thinking contrary to the arrangement of a traditional classroom where students have to follow only one path and are criticized for being rebellious if they disagree. I think my generation is fortunate enough to be in a place where most of us want a job that we are passionate about, contrary to my parent's generation who worked to feed the family. However, in Ladakh, there are fewer employment opportunities; we can no longer rely on tourism due to the pandemic, and the burden of climate change on our land. Everyone cannot be employed by the government, and existing job opportunities are insufficient to employ the current working population.


That’s why, as Dr. Jinpa pointed out, a child should be encouraged by teachers and their parents to think outside of the box and be creative. I always remind myself that societal change is slow, but each step towards a better future matters. I would love to hear your views on mental health and developing social-emotional learning in Ladakhi schools. I want to thank Dr. Jinpa and Laura for giving us the opportunity to rethink the traditional beliefs and systems that can restrain children from self-expression, and to unlearn our hesitation to put mental health first. Thank you to Rebecca Wilson Studio for producing the video.


What do you think? I hope that you will share your ideas and reflections on the topic in the comment section here. Let’s take advantage of this forum to dig deeper into how our schools, families, and communities support mental health and the emotional well being of Ladakhi children.


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2 commenti


Tsewang Chuskit
Tsewang Chuskit
14 lug 2020

Thank you acho Morup ly for your comment. You have highlighted many insightful views on our culture and education system. A conversation with teachers, educators, policymakers and other influential personnel on developing critical thinking in our students, and including social-emotional learning in schools, sounds like the first prominent step towards providing holistic education to the students. We should pick a platform where everyone can access easily from where we are. Would that be zoom?

Mi piace

Thank you for sharing this interview. Dr. Jinpa has summarised beautifully the whole issue of education in Ladakh/Tibetan in such simple words with instances. It is so true that despite, in many cases, good performances on paper students somehow struggle when it comes to expressing or competing in actual national level platforms or opportunities. He is rightly pointed out 'confusion about humility and timidity'. Assertion power is something we all need to work on when it comes to giving education to Ladakhi students. I think local student are not dearth of talent or skill sets, its often the inability to express that leaves them unnoticed due to the low level of confidence. Social-emotional learning plays the key role here. It…


Mi piace
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