5 TH SPACE
In today’s world, where there are few secular, non-commercial spaces to “hang out”, meet others, share opinions and views and take action, there is an urgent need to create such 5th spaces where young people can lead their own development and growth. So when trying to understand the concept of the 5th Space, some of the questions that are always asked are:
WHAT IS THE 5th SPACE?
How do young people spend their time? At home with family, hanging out with friends, in leisure or at college / workplace. Traditionally these four spaces make up their universe. In all these spaces their worldview derives from an already given legacy, through a lens which society has donned for millennia. Beyond this received wisdom, don’t they need another space which allows them to create their own understanding of the world?
- To understand themselves, develop, and grow?
- To look at social issues from a sytemic lens, and see how they are connected to them?
- To deal with conflicts within and around them in society?
- To take action that benefits them and the surroundings?
We call this the 5th space. It is a space where young people develop a psycho-social worldview, which answers the question “Who are we?”(we as in humans – a social species) as opposed to “Who am I?” This view allows young people to understand and define their connection to the world as it is. The 5th space makes the relationships in the other four spaces count by nourishing and enriching the capacities of young people to take effective and responsible action. The 5th space believes that self-transformation is the first step towards creating change in our relationships and in society.
WHY IS THE 5th SPACE IMPORTANT?
The four traditional spaces conform to societal, family and peer pressures where a young person often cannot voice his/her opinions openly. These spaces, as they exist, cannot organically create opportunities for young people to learn about themselves and the world around them. Received wisdom flowing through these spaces interferes in the making of informed choices.
The 5th space is important because:
- Families survive by tradition and routine. The 5th Space breaks that monotony to allow the young to question their beliefs and choose their values instead of being forced to adopt them.
- Friend circles are driven by peer pressure. And the young often don’t voice their true opinions
because it might appear ‘uncool’? The 5th Space encourages trust that deepens friendships, makes them more genuine and gives everyone the strength to permit their uniqueness to show.
- The focus of mainstream education is to prepare young people to earn a living rather than how to live. Careers focussed on achievements of goals allow us minimal space for learning. Many times, competition and conflict eat away at their ability to empathize and collaborate. The 5th space builds their learn-ability, capacity for systemic analysis, ability to prioritize purpose, and skills of inside out leadership to make the career a fulfilling part of a wholesome life.
- Watching or playing a sport, listening to music, participating in religious ceremonies, hanging out at the mall, watching TV – even while choosing lifestyle & leisure activities, there are pressures that play on their minds, constricting their choices to limited, trendy and ‘acceptable’ forms. The 5th space allows them to choose based on their own passions and a more informed worldview. The capacities learnt in the 5th space help young people to engage better in the other spheres of their lives and also impact society. It is critical to recognize young people as change agents who can make a significant contribution to society while building skills for the future. They are not only instruments for a better tomorrow, but are contributors to a significant NOW.