WEB RADIO BROADCAST
You can listen to Mr. Balasooriya's live broadcasts using the player located on the right. To listen to past broadcasts, please click here. To be informed of future broadcasts, please sign up for the newsletter above...
Objectives and the limitations of this study
This is a case study, written with a view of sharing my experience in teaching peace to children in Sri Lanka, for the last twenty five years ( 1972-2007) which led to me develop the UNESCO: Learning the Way of Peace. A Teachers’ Guide to Peace Education.(2001) The Guide is presently gaining ground internationally in the field of peace education. I believe that teachers, school curriculum makers, education reformers and peace workers can draw insights to their present works from my narration presented here. It also can broaden frontiers of peace education and enrich it’s the present perspective. The methodology I use here is simple narration of my experience, telling and discussing what prompted me to conduct peace education sessions in schools, what content matter I used, how the curricula developed over time, what did I learn from the field experience, how they could be applied in teaching peace and developing curricula and methodology of peace education by interested educators and so on. I want to share with the readers insights I have gained through my field work experience.
Frankly speaking, when I started conducting sessions for students in 1972 I was a simple village school teacher who had neither training nor knowledge in peace education. All I had was my motive to create a culture of peace and nonviolence in my country. I had not even heard about peace education. I was learning by doing. But as I was proceeding ahead I had to naturally look for the literature in order to devlop quality of my work. Literature Review Evolution of Peace Education It is useful at the outset have a short reflection on how peace education evolved historically
The need for peace
The need for peace has been felt almost in very human society, from the beginning civilization. However the concept of peace differed from time to time. Absence of wars was considered to be peace at the beginning. But idea was too simplistic. Later on, the presence of many positive such as sense of security, justice, harmony between different groups within a society, economic wellbeing were identified in peace. It is inspiring to learn some ancient views of peace. For instance in the Vedic literature that came into being during the period of B.C. 3003 – 1000 in North India, we read spiritual significance given to peace by Aryan people.
It is still appealing to us in the present era. For instance in Yajur Veda there is a hymn to evoke peace consciousness in people. : ( 36.17) ‘O Lord of Peace,
'May there be peace in the sky and on earth . May there be peace on among plants, in forests! May there be peace on waters! May there be peace among material forces and divine forces and also in God. May peace be every where! May the peace bestow eternal joy on us.”
The Aryan people chanted this peace mantra daily and in their celebrations and ceremonies. In Buddhism also there is a hymn of aspiration for peace which the Buddhists chant in public ceremonies.
“May the clouds bring us rain! May the crops yield plentiful harvest . May people be happy May the King be just’.
The above hymn addresses four sources of peace. They are ecological balance, productivity and plentitude, happy society, and good governance. The total sum of the four sources is peace. Jesus blessed peace makers saying they are sons of God. Islam is another religion that holds peace in high regard. However the love for peace in human hearts along seems inadequate unless they create right social, political, economic structure to support and maintain it. Peace is an end value or an end product. It also should be on going process. Here we confine our selves to examine contribution that education can offer to sustain and ensure peace in human society.
Peace education was always there in Education.
In the past education in all civilized society attempted to convey the message of peace to children in variety of ways. Peace education had been existing in various cultures in different forms. Take for instance the ancient instructional books of poetry such as Thirukkural in Tamil language. It is guidance for peaceful and righteous living. Thus peace education is not a new idea in the world of education. Hutchinson (1986) points out that peace education today owes ‘a considerable debt to the cosmopolitan ideas and peace related ethical concerns of early centuries’ Coming to the modern education peace education has been mentioned by Comenius, the Czech Educator in 17 the century. who is called today the father of modern education. Immanuel Kant‘s book on perpetual peace written in the 17 century mentions the need for peace education. Maria Montessori, the renowned educationist went round the globe lecturing the need of peace education just after the World War 1 . Seeing the destruction of the world War 1 in Europe those who were concerned of ensuring peace took several education initiatives teach nonviolence, to eliminate war.
Different modes of peace education
After the world War 2 UNESCO considered ensuring peace through education. science and cultural activities should be one of her the major responsibilities. The UNESCO motto: ‘Since war begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed’ loudly expresses her goal.( UNESCO Constitution 1945) UNICEF also supports peace education through out the world. Lopes Cardozo ( 2006) quoting Ansell (2005:1 UNICEF ( 2001) notes that children in age of 7-11 develop their skills to understand the perspectives of others.
It is the crucial ability necessary for participating in peace education. Specially with the attainment of abstract thinking skills at the age of 12 children become more capable to critically think and understand issues related to peace. Children specially in age group of 12 -16 form the basic view of their future life and its values. Their view of the world is also formed during this period of life. David Hicks observes that though ‘children have quite clear images of war it appears that they often have very hazy ideas about the nature of peace’ Therefore educating peace and guiding them to select a peaceful life style is crucially important. Sharp (1984) points out that In peace education follows five major approaches are observable today. They are
- Peace education as peace through strength: Educating peace to be achieved by armed deterrence by governments
- Peace education as conflict mediation and resolution. Focusings on analysis of conflict and on ways resolving through nonviolent means.
- Peace education as personal peace: Primarily stressing on the need for interpersonal empathy and cooperation with a focus on the process of education itself and need to transform hierarchical structures at all levels.
- Peace education as world order. Starting from a need for a global perspectives and recognition of structural violence as a major obstacle to peace.
- Peace education as the abolition of power relationships.
Emphasizing on raising awareness of structural violence and identification with the struggles of all oppressed groups. Each approach is based on an assumption of peace building. David Hicks identifies four the aims of education for peace taking the above approaches into consideration (abid p.8) • to explore concepts of peace as a state of being and as an active process • to enquire into the obstacles of peace and the causes of peacelessness both in individuals, institutions and societies • to resolve conflicts in ways that will lead towards a less violent and just world • to explore a range of different alternative futures in particular ways of building a more just and an sustainable world society. However peace education is not a panacea for the cries in our modern society. There are critics who are of opinion that peace education has no place in school because of the ‘ real nature and purpose of a school curriculum ‘Cox and Scruton (1984) as quoted by Patricia White ( 1988) Peace teachers find in Sri Lanka that schools’ occupation on the students’ examination performance discourages their initiatives in peace education. In addition school community consider religious education covers the area and there fore it is redundant. However such limitation can be overcome through raising awareness.
The background that was in Sri Lanka
It was 1971. Sri Lanka was then a peaceful country. Then I was working as a school teacher in a traditional village named Rilpola close to Badulla town. I heard that a certain group who had come to the village from outside, was holding secret conducting political classes for village youths, teaching an extreme form of communism. Villagers called them Cheguara group. Cheguara’s revolutionary movement in Cuba had been popularized by a newly formed para political group who called their moment People’s Liberation Front ( JVP). Many youth were attracted to the movement. They had genuine reasons for it, such as political recruitments to jobs, caste suppression, discrimination of youths participation in many fields. There was political corruption in all major fields of activities in the government. The education was irrelevant to the social needs of the day. In such a situation it was easy to evoke hatred in young people to rise against the social system I found the youth who attended the classes, radically had changed their mindset. . Whenever I happened to talk about the problems of the country with them, they came out with hate and anger. They said: ‘This capitalist system should be put an end’ ‘There is no future to us under this political system’ ‘Revolution is the only solution.’ ‘Violence is necessary to change the system. ’ One day I was walking along a road. A village young person was accompanying me, We passed a newly built beautiful small house in front of which a young father and a mother sitting on lawn and watch their baby playing with a ball. It was a pleasant sight to see. As we passed the house I said ‘It was a beautiful sight. Isnt it? the scen. He responded . ‘I feel hateful’ ‘But why’ ? I inquired. He said ‘The how could they built such a house when the majority of this people in this country have no food to eat. Surely some kind of exploitation should be going on here. Otherwise how could he built such a house” . I was shaken by what he said. I found that he had attended the class. They were teaching the village youth to hatred violence as a means of changing the society. This political group had penetrated all most all the universities and villages in Sri Lanka. Then the came the explosion .On the day of Sinhala new year the school had organized a celebration. At the mid of it we came to known that the Government had declared curfew to the whole country followed by the attacks on police stations by the JVP activitists. We had to abruptly stop the celebration. Schools were closed. . We started hearing rumors of killings civilians by unidentified gunmen, throwing out hand grenades to police jeeps, threatening government officers to resign from their positions, cutting down trees to block traffic. Sri Lanka witnessed a terrorist struggle for the first time. The wave of killing by the terrorists and Government’s retaliation to curb it went on months. Anybody could be killed or arrested by the forces on suspicion. Dead bodies were found by the sides of the road burned. The result of the insurgence cost nearly 17,000 lives of youth. When it was brought under control the social atmosphere that existed before was had completely changed. People were different suspicious, silent in talking out their feelings. Case I being a peace lover by my nature, suffered deeply within by the human cruelty at play. My innermost self demanded that I do something remedial to the existing situation in response. The existing culture of violence has to be replaced by a culture of peace and nonviolence. What am I to do ? I decided to go round the schools in my area schools and address children on importance of practicing nonviolence. I asked school principals to allow me address their students. Seeing the need of day, trusting me as a teacher, they obliged to my request.
During this period there lived in Sri Lanka a highly respected scholar, philosopher and educationist named Dr. E. W. Adikaram with whom I had close relationship. We often met to discuss the situation. He was also highly worried about outburst of violence in the country. I took him to schools in my province to address the students, parents and general public. The Provincial Education Authorities in the appreciated my work and officially supported my work. Young thinkers’ society Dr. Adikaram wanted to see immediate impact. He proposed that we would confine to bring out three outcomes in the young people. They were making young people abstained from smoking, taking liquor and engaging in violent acts. He thoughts .these three evils will bring out a sober future generation. We would explain consequence of three evils in schools and get written declaration from adolescent students to totally abstain from them. Smoking was public menace at that time especially among young persons. Statistically we got 10, 000 adolescents to promise to abstain from the three evils. Each abstainer was convince at least 10 others to give up the evils. Dr. Adikaram formed an organization called Young Thinkers Society. Pamphlets were distributed in thousands to young people on the need for abstaining from the three evils. It was the first campaign against smoking in Sri Lanka. Followed by our initiative later several organizations, doctors and educators started their own campaigns against smoking. I should say in refection, by 1990 the youth in Sri Lanka by and large were non smokers. Today (2007) smoking in public has been legally banned you will hardly see a person smoking. Students leadership development ( 1973-1986) In searching ways of developing students to be sane human beings who in future will be able to create a good society, I designed a three day workshops curriculum model for school prefects in my Province.(Uva) Sarvodaya a NGO, offered facilities for the workshops in the Badulla District Centre. Schools sent their young prefects to be trained on the request by the Provincial Director of Education who also played the role of a trainer. Sarvodaya also sent young village development activists for the training.
From the year 1972 to 1985 we had conducted over 250 three day workshops In essence they were peace education workshops though we didn’t call them so. The innovation was not in the air in those days. We wanted to develop the potentials of leadership in school prefect so that they in future would create a good society with a culture of peace. .The curriculum we followed was designed under six themes. They were:
- Physical well being o Yoga o Physical games o Caring your body.
- Mental well being, Self understanding, Undersatnding Adolescence and its challenges
- Developing a positive vision of life
- Social well being
- Understanding my social roles and responsibilities
- Relationship building
- Effective Communication
- Qualities of a good leader.
- What is moral behavior?
- Community development
- Spiritual wellbeing
- Experiencing Inner peace
- Art of meditation
- Living a life of nonviolence.
- On being a good student and student leader
- Effective learning methods
- Duties and responsibilities of a student leader
- Aesthetic and creative activities.
- Music and drama
The participants were expected to observe self awareness / self watchfulness through out the day. From time to time they were reminded of the need. In the evening there was daily gathering for self reflection and evaluation of their learning. We observed how students’ potential skills emerging out such as oratory, creative thinking, problem solving and aesthetic skills during the intervention. This model of student development programme were unknown to the education system at that period of time in Sri Lanka. Today many schools through out the country follow its basic model in their student development programme.
Emergence of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka Though we could reduce the habits of smoking and drinking, the problem of violence was so colossal to address in Sri Lanka. However our only consolation was that we never heard of any student involving in violence acts in the riots that arose later. The JVP insurgence erupted again in 1988. This time in its worst form of violence killing some 40, 000 youth. On the top of it Sri Lanka witnessed an horrible ethnic conflict in 1982 which turned the direction of Sri Lanoka’s path towards an on going an civil war with Tamil Group called LTTE up to the day of writing this in 2007. I have no space here to explain its causes. I have traced its development some where else.( Curriculum Change UNESCO 2005) The ultra racist appeal attracted many Tamil youths to take arms against the State demanding an exclusive State for them. They adopted terrorism as means of struggle deviating from any democratic and negotiated solution with the Government. So far the conflict has cost over 80, 000 lives and billions of rupees to the government of Sri Lanka which could have used for development of the country. Work at the National Level ( 1991- 1999) Coming back my story In 1990 I was appointed as a Education Project Officer in the National Institute of Education( NIE). The Institute being in charge of Education development of the country, could introduce innovations and changes in the school curriculum and teacher training curriculum. Though was served as a lecturer and researcher in school management development I was searching for an opportunity to continue my student development work at the National level.
Fortunately in 1991 there was a request from the UNICEF to start a education project to save children from being exposed to violence around them. Children were exposed to the existing political, ethnic and social violence in their surrounding. I had the opportunity to be a committee member to propose an Education project for the problem. We had a only a fuzzy idea about peace education but no body was thorough with it. I I personally took the challenge of educating my self on peace education from the literature available. I found lot of useful literature in a religious group called the Quakers in Colombo. Seeing my interest they sent me to a peace education workshop they organized in Kandy, Sri Lanka. To my amusement it was all nothing but what I had been doing in the past with students in Badulla. However I was attracted to the peace learning activities they used in the workshop.In the (NIE) we named our project Education for Conflict Resolution.( ECR) UNICEF provided fund to implement the project.
Education for Conflict Resolution Project in the National Institute of Education
General Objectives of the Project : 1. To help achieve National cohesion and harmony among different ethnic , religious and cultural groups in Sri Lanka as stated in the national goals of Education ( This also fulfills the expectation of the learning to live together in the Commission report on Education for the 20th century) 2. To students to develop themselves as peaceful and non violent human beings and citizens.( in the above mentioned report ‘Learning to be’) 3. To help them develop of skills in interpersonal and intra personal conflict resolution. We identified the following three characteristics of peace education: • .It is a basic response to the increasing violence in our society • .It helps children to develop higher human qualities which enable them to grow towards a healthy and holistic life. • It develops children’s skills necessary to live peacefully and build peace in the country and in the world. Curriculum for education for conflict resolution We designed the curriculum on carefully selected nine themes most appropriate to the timely need in the Sri Lankan society. The scope of the content areas needed to be limited to maintain constancy of the curriculum.
- Positive outlook( Looking at oneself, others , life and reality from a positive perspective, the brighter side of things, self esteem,)
- Empathy and understanding others ( Feeling for others , active listening, understanding others needs)
- Inner peace ( Resolution of ones own psychological problems, Self understanding, Emotional health, capacity experience inner peace deeply though quietening the mind)
- Cooperation ( Working harmoniously within a group, sharing, trust building, intercultural understanding, Appreciation of other cultures)
- Human rights, responsibilities and justice (developing a conscience that recognizes, respects ones rights as well as others rights, needs. responsibilities) .
- Assertiveness ( Ability stand by one’s own conscience, honest and direct expression of ones needs while respecting to others needs, )
- Critical Thinking and decision making( Identifying problems, analysis, generating alternative solutions, selecting the best solution, implementing and evaluation )
- Conflict resolution skills ( Nonviolence, Negotiation, Conflict analysis, Creating Problem Solving and Mediation)
- Community peace building. ( Identifying community problems, plan for ction, implementation and evaluation , Project planning involving small community development projects organized by schools and gain experience in community work)
I undertook to develop a Teacher Guide and Training Guides to introduce Education for Conflict Resolution.I wrote ‘Conflict management in schools ‘ Peace Education Learning Activities’ ‘Teaching Peace to Children’ UNICEF funded to print them and send then free to all the 10,000 schools in Sri Lanka in Sinhala and Tamil languages. The Project distributed nearly one hundred thousand copies of thee Teacher Guides to schools for the teachers to educate themselves on peace education. The committee trained nearly 8000 teachers, master teachers, school principals, lecturers of the Teacher Colleges of Education based on the Guides during the period of 1992 to 1999. The development of the peace education model by the ERC Project led to integrate the learning peace into school curriculum in a number of forms. First, it was introduced in 1995 as a new subject named Life Competencies form Grade 6 to 9th. We also could integrate peaceful living skills and concepts such as understanding others, active listening, cooperation , appreciating other cultures, into the primary school curriculum in subjects like language and environmental studies. The teachers were trained in ways of integrating peace concepts to their various subjects and school co curricular activities. The Ministry of education requested all schools to organize a peace day annually on a given date of the year.
Over 8000 personnel including teachers, administrative officers in the Ministry of Education were trained. during the hay days of the Project (from 1992 to 1999).In addition I kept myself going around the countries’ major schools conducting sessions for students. Impact of ECR The project did not issue circulars to implement the innovation. The innovation was to be taken up in a voluntary spirit by teachers and principals. An initial evaluation was done in 1995.It showed the innovations took a long time to go to the periphery. But there were teachers, school principles who had been practicing it with excellence. Another change that took place, is integration of peace learning activities into normal teaching methods. Many post graduate students in faculty of education in Universities conducted reach on themes on peace education and Conflict resolution. Conclusions What I have learned from my experience in conducting peace education sessions during the past 25 years
1. Peace education approach: We found that Peace education approach can be fruitfully applied any school subject. The ECR committee members who were the heads of different branches of education development, such as special education, teacher education, values education and primary education, school management, applied the peace education approach to their fields. In doing so their curricula gained a humanistic quality, which was more meaningful and therefore more interesting to students.
2. A comprehensive curriculum for Peace Education The themes on which I have conducted peace education sessions in schools during the the above period fall under five areas of education. The themes were often suggested by school principals. The following framework represents the comprehensive peace education curriculum that immerges out of the themes. In fact every theme suggests an area of self-development in children and young persons.
I Citizenship education: E.g. Sub themes
o Duties and responsibilities, • Healthy political decision making and action • Healthy patriotism • Protection of public property • Obedience to law • Justice • Human rights • Respect for others • Community development • Understanding and appreciation of other cultures
II Social education E.g Sub themes o Interpersonal relationship development o Cooperation o Communication o Assertiveness o Positive thinking o Team Building III Conflict resolution E.g. Sub themes • Understanding the types and nature of conflict • Conflict Analysis • Active listening • Negotiation skills • Creative problem solving • Mediation skills
IV. Moral and values Education E.g Sub themes o Nature and classification of human values o Basic Values: e.g Goodness, Love, Compassion, Peace, Nonviolence, Decenct Behaviour, Positive Thinking, Valuing Life, Honesty, Beauty, Order, Will and Determination, Contentment, Truthfulness, Humanity, Wisdom, Long Vision, Critical thinking. Happiness, Joy, Humor, Magnanimity, Self-discipline/Emotional control o Moral decision making: o Values Clarification o Values based behaviour
VI Spiritual Education: E.g Sub themes • Self discovery/ understanding • Practising awareness/ mindfulness/ • Resolution of inner conflict • Meditation practice • Discovering and Experiencing Inner Peace, Creative joy, Bliss, Perfection, Freedom, Ecstatic joy, • Learning to live here and now • Exercises for awakening wisdom • Appreciation of nature Implication for curriculum makers. The picture presented above peace education curriculum designers to select the themes in a balanced way. However I do not claim that peace education should confine to the above basic areas of education. New identification of learners needs will lead to come out with new themes.
In selecting the themes for UNESCO Teacher Guide: Learning the Way of Peace I used the above framework.
3. Two dimensions of peace education Extrinsic peace learning and intrinsic peace learning. Peace learning takes place in two dimensions in a learner. They are the extrinsic and intrinsic dimensions. By extrinsic I mean learning things about the external world. Most of the learning in the areas of citizenship education, social education conflict resolution education fall into this dimension. Peace is leant here as a concept. In the intrinsic dimension learning is mostly about the inner process of self, mind and human nature. It is in essence inner discovery of one’s true self. Peace is learnt here as a living reality through live experience. Coming in terms with the true self opens the door to peace within. How can a person become peaceful in his heart, as long as he is ignorant of his/her own self.?
Spiritual education is essentially intrinsic and therefore touches the deeper most inner self of the learner. The behaviour changes arising out of the spirit is genuine and lasting compared with mere ‘taught’ behaviour. I have defined spirituality as ‘ Implication for teaching: Converge extrinsic learning with intrinsic learning. When peace education is nothing but learning some facts external facts it naturally becomes superficial and therefore unable to produce right behaviour. Convergence means combining cognitive domain with affective domain. In my sessions generally I start with intrinsic themes and later take up extrinsic themes. I find intrinsic themes are toughing to the young students. Their interests awake easily with such a theme.. Examples for opening the session. I ask: Who are you? How do you to discover your true self? Aren’t we wearing a face mask ? Have you realized it? If so, what is your original face? Play a music for relaxation and say feel the inner peace Listen to the sounds around with complete attention. Tell an inspiring fable and discuss the spiritual/ peace message in it. Convergence is a whole brain education approach. The left-brain is the seat of intellect while the right brain is the seat of emotions. We can diagram the activities of the two lobes of the brain in the following way: Left Brain Intellect Analytical Reasoning/Logical Mechanical Knowledge Conflict resolution Fragmentary Right Brain Emotion Synthesis Intuition Creative Insight Reconciliation Holistic The creative ability of the facilitator is important in combining the two sides of the brain in conducting peace workshops.
4. Spiritual needs of children: Peace education is meaningful to learners to the degree that it fulfils needs of the learners. Therefore has to be founded upon the genuine needs of the children from the spheres of citizenship, social development, values discovery, moral and spiritual development. Confining here ourselves to the spiritual needs children I present some needs I have identified. School curriculum seems so insensitive to this aspect of children’s inner growth. Children do not directly say them at the beginning of a workshop or to a questioner given to them. They are so delicate that in such instances what they say directly is often not genuine. But when a need is fulfilled of course they identify them and if you ask them in friendly way, then they might tell you. . The best way to get them is through an open evaluation at the end of a workshop. They will tell you the needs fulfilled. T
he following statements of children given at the end of sessions reveal their true inner needs that had been in them.
- I became aware of the evils in the society, evils corrupting humanity.
- I learnt how to feel alight in mind •
- I learnt to be still in mind and the joy of being still.
- Now I understand the harmfulness of living in a negative state of mind
- I learnt how to free the mind from hatred.
- I discovered the depth of my being
- I learnt how to relax my body as well as mind.
- I learnt the need to be realistic.
- I became inwardly strong
- I realized the beauty of having a loving mind.
- I learnt the need for inwardly directed in life , not by the external forces.
- I learnt the art of being happy.
- I learnt how to appreciate the beauty of nature.
- I learnt that life should be basically happy and joyous
- I learnt that the joy and happiness lies basically within me, and for them I must turn within. Implication to school education
As mentioned earlier schools are not paying sufficient attention to the spiritual needs of children. This leads to production callous set of generation who will continue the present evils in the future. The problem here is teachers are not trained in this especially important area. Therefore the first step should be taken in the field of teacher education.
5. Spiritual Education – the highest form of peace education. .
I pointed out in ‘Learning the way of peace’ (page 105) : . ‘Peace arises in one’s life from the deep human spirit that underlies all faith. Peace education deals with the depth of human mind. Touching the seat of spirituality is necessary. Here by spirituality we mean that essence rooted in man, which seeks for fulfillment through expressing and experiencing goodness in the highest degree, It drives us to do good, be kind, search for the true meaning of life and values lying deep within us’ The ultimate goal of education is the total development of the child. Yet the spiritual development seems the least understood aspect of child’s development. The conventional position is that teaching religion will address the spirituality of the child. It is narrow to leave it there. Moreover teaching religion is so conventional and sometimes so fundamentalist, and hinders the flowering of the spirit of the child. Spirituality is the core essence of being human and it is the source from all basic human values such as compassion and wisdom arise. Higher nature of man is spiritual. The higher human nature seeks expression through realization of it and actualizing it through behaviour and way of living. I have observed that children a re able to experience spirituality from the age of two and half years. Recently a child of two years asked me when I was taking her for an evening walk through the fields. She looked at the natural surrounding so beautiful and asked me: “Where does the Lord live?’ I replied: “The Lord lives in the setting sun, in the sky, in the cloud” Then she asked ‘Isn’t He living in the earth?’ “Of course” I replied . “He is in earth as well’. She was not satisfied. She asked showing a blade of grass ‘Is He living in this blade of grass” ?’ I said. ’Yes.’ Her countenance showed that she not only understood what was being said, but also received it in the depth of her being. ’
The model I developed for spiritual education for teachers is presented below:
1 Provide learning experiences that evokes spirituality.
2 Nourish child’s spiritual insights. Awaken its spirit.
3 Guide the awakened spirit to experience compassion, peace, beatuty, goodness and wisdom. 4 Help child to practice awareness , understand how the mind works, through self watchfulness,
5 Let the child experience ecstatic joy through inspiring activities, meditations, nature appreciation etc 6 Provide opportunities and guide the child to express the Inner joy through a creative activity. The teacher’s role in spiritual education:
1. Help self understanding/ e.g. How the mind works within./ how anger is produced in us/
2. Help to understanding importance of being mindfulness and practice it in daily activities/ in the classroom etc
3. Introduce meditation practices and encourage practicing it daily.
4. Discuss noble human qualities and values
5. Help children understand universal laws governing our lives e.g. Impermanency, cause and effect etc
6. Guide practicing compassion.
7. Develop critical examination of human problems
8. Help the learner to develop insights into right living.
6. Helping learners to discover pure consciousness.
I have relied much on the concept of pure consciousness in my sessions with students. It is borrowed from Eastern religions. In Hinduism it is called ‘sahaja samadhi’ meaning natural or inborn pure and positive state of mind. This is not tabula rasa ( empty slate) in the Western philosophy. In Buddhism it is called ‘amila vingnana’ ( Pure Consciousness) It is the original, incorruptible, unconditioned and natural state of mind. Coming in touch with it, is a powerful inner experience that changes the mindset of a person. With the discovery of pure consciousness thoughts cease to exist.
Abraham Maslow ( 1970) calls it peak experience. To quote one of his references: ‘The peak experience is felt as a self validating, self justifying moment which carries its own intrinsic values with it. It is felt to be a highly valuable – even uniquely valuable – experience, so great an experience, sometimes that even to attempt justify it takes away from its dignity…. ..Peak experience can make life worthwhile to live by their occasional occurrence’ In the state of pure consciousness the experience is completely absorbed into a non dualistic state of mind. . In Eastern religions it is called samadhi. Pure consciousness is the adobe of inner peace and intrinsic human values. It is my conviction young persons who discover it, become capable of better concentration of mind which improves their learning skills. The experience is useful to persons in many aspects. They will not be attracted to alcohol and substances use because the discovery reveals the intrinsic meaning of living. It also leads to enjoy life fully. Such a person can easily recover the traumatic events in life. There are many ways to help young person in awakening the pure consciousness. Meditation is the most effective practice. I do not necessarily mean by it the conventional meditations as taught in religions.
I use simple mediations such as watching a tree /sky/ cloud/ scene of earth with a complexly silent mind. Listening to the silence of the universe. Being totally aware of one’s body, sensations, thoughts and feelings. Stilling the wandering thoughts of mind and experience the deepest peace within. Living totally in the present movement / here and now. Watching mindfully one’s stream of thought Trying to understand the deeper meaning of a spiritual thought;/ koan; eg: o What were you before birth and what will be you after life ends. o Interconnected ness and inter relation of the universe. o You are your thoughts I have realized that a person genuinely transforms into a peaceful human being with the inner discovery of his ort her pure consciousness.
7.Quiet mind is more receptive to deep learning. I have found that a student is capable of learning to the degree he is quiet in mind. As the mind becomes wandering, disorderly and restless it loses its capacity of learning at a given moment. I use to put the students into a relaxed state of mind at the beginning, guiding them to relax physically and mentally. As they sit still for a few minutes they fell inwardly settles down. Music also an effective means of o put them into relaxed state of mind and creating the conducive atmosphere for learning. Teaching when overdone dulls students mind. From the beginning of a session the the central focus should be with the learning process of the students. In learning peace the teacher is needs to play the role of the insight illuminator to awaken vision in the learner through questioning for value clarification, for the validity of statements, and making statement for provocation of new insights, new way of perception , creatively confronting further investigation. 8. Evaluation of spiritual education: Spiritual learning can be assessed by the students’ feedback on their insights and experiences. Examples: Students in grade eight and nine explained their experiences in the following ways:
‘I closed my eyes. My mind became still. Then I felt the freshness of the breeze. I settled down in the deepest seat of my mind. To my wonder I became so light and felt as if I was floating in the sky. I could believe it. Really it was a mystical experience’
‘I gained the strength to live. Now my mind is made perfect and pure’
‘The experience put my mind in order’
I have collected hundreds of students’ such exclamations and they are interesting to read. This is the opening of the inner self , the pure consciousness. They reflected a heightened creative consciousness. The students exclamations provide evidence to conclude that adolescent students are highly capable of deep spiritual experiences. The above mentioned experiences mark a deep change in participants’ consciousness. Doubtlessly they should produce change in behaviour towards being moral, sensitive, peaceful and good. With some the behavioral change is immediate and with others it is delayed. However the seed of change is laid. Some students whom I happened meet after years thanked for the guidance gained from the experiences. Few researches have been conducted on the nature of children’s spiritual experiences. Finally I believe that my sharing here will contribute to furthering the present scope , vision and methodology of education for a culture of peace..
Balasooriya, A.S. ( 1995)
Peace education, Learning activities . National Institute of Education, Maharagama, Sri Lanka (in Sinhala and Tamil) _______ (1996)
Teaching Peace to Children National Institute of education, Maharagama, Sri Lanka (in Sinhala and Tamil) _______ (1996)
Conflict Management in Schools National Institute of education, Maharagama, Sri Lanka (in Sinhala and Tamil) _______ ( 1997)
Values Education (New edition (2004) Wijesooriya Book Centre, Maradana Sri Lanka (in Sinhala) _______ ( 1997)
New Methods of Teaching Values (New edition (2000) 1674/1C 2nd lane malambe Road , Kottawa, Pannipitiya Sri Lanaka (in Sinhala) _______
(2001) Learning the Way of Peace. A Teachers’ Guide to Peace Education UNESCO New Delhi _______ At el (2004) i
n Sobhi Tawil and Alexandra Harley (Ed)) .Education, Conflict and Social Cohesion Chapter 8 Education Reforms and Political Violence in Sri Lanka. UNESCO International Bureau of Education Cardozo, Lopes, T.A.(2006)
The State of Peace Education in Sri Lanka: in Peace or in Pieces.International Developmental Studies University of Amsterdam Cox, C and Scruton, R (1984) Peace Studies: A Critical Survey, Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies; London Hezog,
Stephanie (1982) Joy in the Classroom University of the Tree Press Boulder Creek, California 5506
Hicks David (1988) (Ed ) Education for Peace. Routle, London Maslow A.H. (1971)
The Further reaches of Human Nature Viking Penguin Books Maslow A.H. (1970)
Religions, Values and Peak Experiences Viking Penguin Books
Montessori , Maria (1949) New edition (1992) Education and Peace Clio Press Oxford Sharp,R. (1984) (ed.) Apocalypse No; An Australian guide to arms race and peace movement, Pluto, Sydney Vidyalankar, Satyakam (1983)
The Holy Vedas Clarion Books Delhi110 095