When relationship counsellor John Grey wrote his famous book ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’, he was sure about his goal. He wanted to tell the modern societies how to improve relationships despite the differentials between men and women — in terms of their personalities, their traits, their mental and physical characteristics, plus spiritual needs. Although I would disagree with him on many aspects of the basis of the differences I would agree that the sexes are groomed differently from centuries and hence built apart. That is a reality.
John Grey may have given a new expression to an age-old issue, but the fundamental challenge of managing relationship between men and women persists, and will do so for a long time till we change it. This is where emerges a major point to ponder over — the point of the nature of education we have for men and women in modern societies. Despite the fact, that educators, like anybody else, know that men and women are different in many ways, the nature of education has been becoming increasingly unisex, to use a modern expression. Can this approach help in the long run? Co-educational institutions have not served much purpose in the long run and in fact many schools in the developed countries have reverted back to single sex schools for good reasons.
No, this is not to suggest that co-educational institutions should be discontinued but to suggest that a change of approach to education of men and women may help us groom them properly and hence improve the quality of life thereafter. This thought thrusts itself through the jumble of various educational issues because of the increasing decline of quality of relationship between men and women. This is indicated very well through the rising number of failed marriages and divorces all over the world, mostly in educationally higher strata of the society and a growing and worrisome phenomenon in India too.
One of the oft-repeated images from this society is that the young educated woman who gets married is more concerned about her identity than the well being of the family in which she is expected to play a pivotal role. Of course the woman’s identity is a vital issue and has to be understand in a proper perspective by society as a whole. I am not suggesting that the woman has to take things lying down. But I am certainly insisting that in any family anywhere in the world, including the matriarchal communities, the woman has to play the role of the anchor, as the emotional nerve centre, as a social stabiliser as a mother.
However, in the name of common education, what the modern societies have done is to ignore many important issues that separate women from men.
A traditional approach is that when a man and a woman make family, the first thing they are expected to do is to merge their interests but retain their identities. Yet, the emotion called ‘identity’ does not have to mean something that runs counter to the sense of togetherness a family is expected to foster. So, seen in this light, the man of the family must not be raucously autocratic, and the woman also must not be unnecessarily docile. Yet, what is expected is that both of them learn the art and science of mingling their individual identities so seamlessly that the two become really one.
Thus comes the question: Are we giving appropriate consideration to this dimension in our pattern of education?
If yes, so much welcome.
If not, then we need to revisit our definition of education.
Let alone the expression — Men are from Mars, women are from Venus — but is it not essential for us to include in our educational input the concept of nursing the natural differences between the two genders and educate both to take on the challenge of forging healthy, proper, and natural relationship between the two?
This is not just a thought, it is becoming an imperative. If we are to foster happy family living and happy and healthy families, education to both in modern terms is a necessity. I insist that modern education must ponder over the issue therein.