Key takeaways from the survey with Gen Z in higher education in Sri Lanka focusing on the impact of culture and tradition on their education, importance of empathy, and on who inspires them to move forward.
Survey results: 57.1% students are studying what they want to study without the influence of cultural and traditional values. Only 6% of the students are mentally fairing 'content' or 'Extremely happy'. More than 50% of the students are 'satisfied' with the way they are taught, who is teaching, and what they are being taught.
On Empathy in the curriculum: Lecturers and teachers could be more understanding and kinder to students, especially those with poor mental health who come forward with their problems or ask for guidance. ''Knowledge (education) comes with understanding. Understanding leads to empathy. If you understand and can put yourself in another person’s shoes without necessarily being in that very situation that is empathy. Knowledge however, teaches you to rationalize your thoughts/words/actions towards another person as well. Therefore, knowledge plays a hand in hand role with empathy because it allows a person to feel another while being able to be rational.'
On culture and tradition: 'Some aspects of Sri Lankan culture and traditions are beautiful but some of it creates a toxic environment for today’s society. ''Rich in culture but not willing to move on with the world. ''Rich in great values but closed off ways of mind. The fact of having good qualities but at the same time restricting not only one’s self but others to a point, it obstructs freedom of self expression and causes a lot of damage mentally to a lot of the younger generation who is more open minded.'
On how empathetic educators have affected them in life: 'Probably a better level of patience for building a career and a repertoire, that's success doesn't come immediately. A situation where a lecturer has changed my life was when a lecturer convinced me of a possibility that I am not stupid, just unaware of my actual strengths (of which I am very strong at). Parroting information learned at school does not equate to intelligence which isn't what I was taught for most of my life so it felt great to have that idea shattered.'
On how empathetic educators have affected them in life: 'During my basic schooling years, I was a nerdy bullied child. This only changed when my class was assigned a homeroom teacher who was incredibly emphatic towards all her students, constantly made sure they were happy and healthy whilst also being an amazing educator in both a learning and fun having perspective. She made my grades go from a D to an A*. Since, I have only encountered one similar teacher to her in my college years. I wish for more teachers and lecturers, educators in general, to be like her, to have their students progress in mind along side their mental and physical health and shortcomings.'
Key discoveries: They are able to differentiate between an overly friend educator and an educator who understands their personal concerns as valid. They are not very happy in their current mental state. They are satisfied with the content of the education specific to the course. Culture and tradition is not completely rejected, but there is a need for a balance with room to grow. Most of them have a key memory when an educator has shown some level of empathy which has positively impacted their learning experience.