Are students engaging with the world around them?
The answer to that is yes. We are witnessing a real interest in social, community and environmental issues and a real demonstration of these concerns.
Inspired by environmental activist Greta Thunberg, students are now taking days out of school to join climate change marches to show that they care. Students striking hasn’t gone down well with many as it is seen as ‘bunking off’ and there are some legitimate child protection concerns being voiced.
However, this is a tough call for schools to make as social interest is one of the most important life skills students can learn and taking to the streets is the place to learn it first-hand.
This attitude of caring for others, for the community and environment is known as Gemeinschaftsgefühl a German word which is difficult to translate but encompasses an individual’s awareness of belonging in the human community and the cosmos of which it is a part. This is about understanding our personal responsibility for the way the life of the community and how the community is shaped by our actions.
The word is closely associated with Alfred Adler to describe our connectedness and interest in the well-being of others that enhances or pre-conditions psychological health.
Social interest isn’t something we are born with – we develop it and we look at others around us for guidance. This is where Greta Thunberg has been instrumental in developing this important life attitude. Her “How Dare You!” actions have developed a global community feeling and why we must campaign for climate justice.
Social interest requires education and training and Greta Thunberg is the teacher helping others become socially active and giving them a voice. She is also uniting the alienated, isolated and marginalised.
Her campaigning efforts have turned into a phenomenon of social interest and community engagement like nothing we have seen before. She symbolises strength, creativity, and positive change and helping us all grasp the “biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.”
So yes we are witnessing a rise in Gemeinschaftsgefühl because we are being made aware that we all belong in the global community, and we have a responsibility in shaping this world. Countries need to love thy neighbour, not pollute thy neighbour.
Gemeinschaftsgefühl is that a deep sense of fellowship in the human community and interconnectedness with all life and our natural desire to contribute usefully for the good of humanity. You don’t learn that in a classroom, you do that by joining others and demonstrating. If they want to strike, then let students strike and let them express their inner-Thunberg.