I didn’t know what I was in for when my boss sent me to attend a public lecture by Dr. Jane Goodall. However, I felt I was going to like this more than all the others I attended. Just like what I anticipated - I thoroughly enjoyed the 2-hour long session, and didn’t feel dreary at all.

Dr Goodall, with her cheery personality, amused the audience when she hooted like a chimpanzee to greet everyone. I thought to myself, “Wow, she must have spent a lot of time with chimpanzees that it’s a part of her now’.  She is known for her 55-year study of social and family interactions with wild chimpanzees. Aside from this, she is also a primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist and UN Messenger of Peace. Due to the nature of her work, one might mistake this lecture to be about animal conservation or the environment.

The reason Dr Goodall mimicked a chimpanzee was to show us how similar chimpanzees are to mankind. Chimpanzees from different communities have their distinct sounds, just like how humans speak in different languages. I have learnt so much from Dr Goodall’s talk and it amazed me when she was able to draw links between chimpanzees and humans.

Monkey See Monkey Do

We’re more similar to chimpanzees than we think. Young chimpanzees are taught to be independent and their earlier years are spent on learning survival skills. As they live in the wild, there are a lot of opportunities for them to interact with others. Chimpanzees can also learn better with trial and error, they are not afraid of failure and losing their confidence. However, the best learning skill of a young chimpanzee is through observation. Ever seen how close they are in mimicking human actions? You will be so surprised at how smart and quick-witted they are! Thus, we should let our child learn through observation too. Early childhood learning is a very important part of a child’s growth and should not be taken lightly.

“Early learning helps shapes the subsequent behaviours of the child as they grow up, ” says Dr Goodall. Instead of limiting them to books and technology, learning should be incorporated with the nature too. Let your child interact with what nature has to offer us, like singing to the trees or talking to birds. Take Newton for example, he wouldn’t have known an apple falling from the tree he took a nap under could have led him to one of the most ground-breaking discovery!

The Selfish Kind - Man

Humans are blessed with an intellectual ability that chimpanzees don’t possess. Humans have the ability to communicate with speech – an explosive development of the human intellect at some point of time during evolution. However, it is these intellectual beings that are destroying the world further.

“We are not living in harmony”, said Dr Goodall. Pollution, animal testing, deforestation are some of the selfish and greedy acts of mankind. Humans make decisions based on how it will benefit them. Such actions are causing more damage to earth and the ecosystem. Gradually, it’s affecting other living things and their habitat as well. The earth does not belong only to us, shouldn’t we learn to live in harmony?

Before we reach a point of no return and wipe out the natural resources we’re bestowed with, we should stop and change our attitude so that our future generation can still live on this land. That is why education and making good choices are also important. We should teach our children to think for others as well.

Roots & Shoots

The two points I mentioned above about early learning and changing attitudes are important when we talk about education. We all understand that education is important but where do we start from, how should we do it? This leaves many of us unsure.

Roots & Shoots, a community action and learning program initiated by Dr Goodall’s organization provides youths an opportunity to identify issues in their community, propose solutions and act against it. The programs empower youths with confidence and responsibility to solve major issues of the community.  These are life-long skills to help them make better choices and also to contribute to the community.

The young are the future, you’ll never know if your child might be the leader of tomorrow. Leader or not, it’s always important to instil the right attitude and provide education for them.

Just like Dr Jane Goodall’s mission and vision, Skillseed hopes to instil a holistic education in our young. We want to nurture a generation of leaders that are passionate about doing good and doing well while applying their 21st century life skills to good use.

With Love,