International Conference on Future Education

International Conference on Future Education

Philosophical Perspectives & Programs

Bhuvaneshvar, Orissa, India
Report prepared by Henk de Weijer

An International Conference, “Future Education: Philosophical Perspectives and Programs”, was organized 22nd – 24th February, 2012 at the Centre of Advanced Studies in Philosophy(CASP), Utkal University, Vani Vihar, Bhuvaneshvar, Orissa, India, in collaboration with Neohumanist Education Research Institute (NERI), Sweden. The Center of Advanced Studies in Philosophy in Orissa is a leading Institute of India for fostering dialogues on emerging issues of our time. The organizers were Dr. Aditya Mohanty, CASP, Utkal University and Dr. Ac. Shambhushivananda Avt., Kulapati of Ananda Marga Gurukula and President of NERI.

The event was attended by about 300 people, and included delegates from Australia, Egypt, India, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand and USA. The conference provided a first opportunity for specialists in Neohumanist Education to meet, exchange ideas and enter into dialogue with a general audience and progressive specialists from around the globe.

FIRST DAY OF THE CONFERENCE

The inaugural session was initiated by chanting Gayatri mantra, including other sanskrit texts, and opened with a keynote address by Ac. Shambhushivananda Avt. on the challenges we face as we look into the future. The full text of his address is included on page 4 this issue of Gurukula Network. After him Mrs. Aparajita Sarangi, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Higher Education, Oriya and Chief Guest hinted at the important task of education to develop students into complete human beings who are aware of and in contact with their body and soul. To this end all practitioners in education, of whatever level, need the advice of idealists and people with vision.

A research team, comprising of Dr. A. Mohanty and Dr. Ac. Shambhushivananda Avt., selected Cellenium Thailand to be the recipient of the “Global Sustainability Award for 2012”. Khun K. Kampanatsanyakorn, Mrs. A. Kampanatsanyakorn and Khun C. Srifuengfung received the Scroll of Honor and the award Crystal. Khun K. Kampanatsanyakorn then gave a presentation on Practical Alternative Solutions for Building Sustainable Habitats.

Dr K. B. Das (Vice-Chancellor of Fakir Mohan University, Balasore, Oriya) highlighted the need to re-mould the educational systems by calling for a reevaluation of the assumptions, principles and practices of the educational community. Prof. H. Ray (Eminent Educationist, Cuttack) advocated the implementation of morality in education. Morality is a double-edged sword; it can strengthen dogmas or break them. High moral values enable students to think out of the box in benevolent ways.

The following Academic Sessions were presented:

Paradigm & Praxis: Negotiating the Gap

Dr. A.K. Mohanty: Coordinator; Center of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, India

Summary of the abstract

A paradigm is a theoretically articulated model, which spells out objectives or ideals and lays down the means leading to their realization. It is not enough that we have objectives or ideals to realize, but they must be realizable.

Every human being is born with certain dispositions and abilities, which attain optimal expression when one gets the right ambience and learning input. The system of education today is information and skill centered. It produces individuals who are intelligent and efficient. But intellect can heal and kill. In order to develop constructive and benevolent intellect the spiritual core of the individual needs to be addressed.

The future education has to be holistic and should help one to overcome the limiting influence of self-centered, matter-centered and dogma centered ideologies. Teachers should play their bounden role as a midwife, as a gardener. Since every individual is good at the core it is never too late to mend. Every saint has a past, so every sinner has a future too. Real education is that which remains after all is lost and forgotten.

Neohumanist Education for a Sustainable Society

Dr. Sid Jordan: Prama Institute, Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Abstract

Neohumanist Education supports an integral education at the physical, psychic and spiritual levels that is both knowledge and experience based. It is a “subjective approach to an objective adjustment” that engenders a love for all of creation, manifest as the proper utilization of all our inner and outer resources, beyond geo-sentiments and groupism. Embracing this continuum of inner and outer ecology supports the needed shift in consciousness from a “materialist” modern worldview to a “pragmatic universalist, postmodern perspective.

We must call on benevolent writers, artists and educators to use all available means to spread this new wave of Neohumanist love of all of creation in ever increasing circles to touch and awaken the conscience of the collective mind steering society towards coordinated cooperation. For philosopher, seer and sage Shri P.R. Sarkar “awakened conscience” is consummated in the discernment of what is best for the general welfare. Neohumanist and like-minded educators represent a vanguard of pioneers that are vibrating to the same anthem of “One Universal Mind”. It is the development of this new wave of consciousness in future education that promises a just and sustainable future for all.

Neohumanist Education – Philosophy, Principles and Practices

Avtk. Ananda Rama Ac.: Ananda Marga Gurukula

Summary of the abstract

Shri P.R. Sarkar defined an ever-new human being or neohumanist as a person who recognizes the devotional heart as the highest treasure and source of inspiration for all worldly actions. He described the essence of neohumanism as ‘the practice of love for all, including the animate and non-animate environment’.

Each student is a universal being with a great potential that needs to be awakened and guided towards full expression. The teacher plays a central role model in the deep learning process of Neohumanist Education. It is the teacher who brings the ideals alive in his or her interaction with the students, the staff, the parents and the greater school community. The teacher is a continuous learner and practitioner of the core values of Neohumanist Education. The methodology that teachers use is flexible, keeping in mind to awaken the thirst for knowledge, develop concentration and how to avoid distractions and any dogmatic influences. Teachers are entitled to a good salary so that their minds are free from economic hardships and they can carry out their work with innovations and great love for their profession.

FIRST EVENING PROGRAM

On the evening of the first day there was a cultural Program presentation by RAWA Academy & Adruta Children Home Presentation. The Department of Women and Child Welfare, Govt. of Orissa presented ‘Mementoes of recognition’ to Adruta, on the auspices of International Women’s Day, 2005 & 2006 held at Bhubaneswar. Adruta received the ‘Excellency Award, 2006’ in the field of Social Action in joint celebration of India and Sri Lanka on 29th July 2006 in New Delhi. For more information please look at their website: <http://adrutachildrenhome.org>. The audience watched an amazing performance of Orissa and folk dances with a high level of mature expression. Much later it appeared they were girls between 11 and 13 years of age.

SECOND DAY OF THE CONFERENCE

Futures of Education in a Globalizing World: Strategic Dimensions in Educational Renewal

Dr. Marcus Bussey: University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia and Visiting Fellow, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Abstract

Speed and compression are defining elements of the global educational context in which market forces and national interest define the logic and focus of institutional education. The future will certainly see intensification in these areas but there are emergent trends that indicate that new issues are entering the educational arena. Strategic leadership in education can benefit from early proactive planning in terms of the following five emergent trends. Firstly, there is the role of technology in shaping a new educational space; Secondly, there is a growing desire for a sustainability focused education; Thirdly, education is becoming a tool for distributive justice where learning enables the entrepreneurial spirit rather than replicating existing social conditioning. Fourthly, there is a need for resilience in education to foster cultural creativity. Finally, education in a global age can engage with deep civilizational stories in a critically conscious way that allows for questions of identity and spirituality to be explored as a balance to the secularism, which has fostered the materialist, and consumerist mindset that is damaging our ecological and cultural fabric worldwide. These five trends focus educational rethinking around the three key areas of time, identity and the local-global interface.

Learning the Art of Wholeness: Challenges for Education and Human Development

Dr. Anant Kumar Giri: Madras Institute of Development Studies

Summary of the abstract

Our educational systems are in a crisis now. This is evident in all levels of education – from the primary to the higher. A major part of the problem lies in our education lacking a soul dimension and striving for realization of wholeness as pedagogical methods lack a relation of love, mutuality, care among the partners and fellow travelers and educational objectives lacking the goal of integral development of individuals and societies. A conventional educational system reflect the fragmentation of modern society and is mainly concerned to rudimentary aspects of skill-training and mental education, but does not touch all dimensions of life and society.

Education for wholeness is a perpetual journey, which strives to go beyond varieties of dualisms of life and society such as individual and society, body and mind, mind and soul, technical and artistic, utilitarian and spiritual, head and heart. Education is an activity and process of learning and co-learning in which the so-called students and teachers are first of all learners and co-learners. This is at the core of Sri Aurobindo’s vision of integral education as he says that nothing can be taught and the teacher is an aid in the process of learning.

Cosmo-holistic Education

Bi Ma’ Anden:(Sweden)

Summary of the abstract

Cosmo-holistic Education embraces a complete and inclusive life approach; it addresses the conscious life that out of the very nature of the Cosmos is a dormant potential within every human being. Cosmo-holism is a natural way of describing, living, expanding and sharing a Cosmic Conscious life approach. What is our true relationship to all and everything we are a part of, by living on the Earth in our Cosmic Universe? If such reflections would be seriously, and continuously, considered in education, politics, enterprising and daily affairs, our communal life would most likely be molded very differently from what it is today. As long as our conscious reflection is not awake, we are sleeping. It has to wake up if we want conscious reflection and a co-creative human society.

Training the Teachers for the Schools of the Future

Dr. Andal Dharani: Director NERI, Sydney, Australia

Abstract

A well-trained teacher is a confident teacher. Various skills, like classroom management and tailoring the lessons to achieve the best knowledge transfer, have to be imparted to future teachers. These skills rest on the work of great thinkers and researchers, involved in teaching and education. Skinner’s ‘positive reinforcement and stimulus-response theories’, Robert Glaser’s ‘instructional design’, Robert Gagne’s ‘different levels of learning’ and Blooms ‘taxonomy’ have changed teaching methods all over the world. Efforts are also made to correlate the different kosas (layers of the mind) with different levels of learning. Serendipity, accidental discovery, is achieved due to intuition from the higher kosas.

Rabindranath Tagore on Practice Based Knowledge: Journey into the Past, Present and Future

Dr. A. Mukherjee: Department of Philosophy and Religion; Director Women’s Studies Center, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan

 

Summary of the talk

The philosophical foundations of Tagore’s educational approach have been helping us in the past, and are doing so in the present, to overcome many of the problems we face the world over and can help us in future planning of education. A harmonious society is based upon cooperation and the spirit of reconciliation between different opposing forces. Ultimately, all social institutions rest upon two essential principles: the regulation of our passions and interests – by focusing them on a harmonious development as human beings – and cultivating a disinterested love for our fellow human beings. These principles can only be realized through adequate education. Tagore tried his whole life to work out a model, based on creativity and understanding of the nature of Nature.

It was a natural development, to not only found a college in Shantiniketan, but also to open a practical institute in Sriniketan, a poor village nearby, in order to offer new goals, new creative methods and new techniques, to improve the standard of life of its inhabitants.

SECOND EVENING PROGRAM

On the evening of the second day there was another cultural Program presentation by RAWA Academy & Adruta Children Home. Before the program one of the central girls had a high fever and without her the whole group would not be able to perform. Her situation was not serious, but very uncomfortable for herself. Yet she had the strength of mind not to give in to her discomfort but join the dancing. The performance of this evening with Orissa and folk dances was expressive, with great precision and refinement. The audience was deeply moved by the beauty of their performance.

THIRD DAY OF THE CONFERENCE

Renovating the Architecture of the Universe

Henk de Weijer: NeoHumanist Education Research Institute, Sweden

Summary of the abstract

Mirror symmetry between particles and antiparticles exists. Particles of energy are a combination of one hundred percent expressed energy and zero percent consciousness. If particles and antiparticles exist, also complementary particles must exist; particles with a high level of expressed consciousness and a very low amount of energy. Just like energy, also consciousness has qualities, like observational quality or awareness, knowledge and creativity, as well as happiness and joy. Shrii P.R. Sarkar gave a name to such creative, intelligent units: microvita.

At some point in the course of evolution these microvita start exerting their influence. If they join atoms, molecules, viruses, cells, tissues, organs, organisma and mind, we will ask: what are their basic and specific characteristics? If in the universe a polarity between consciousness and energy exists, what then is their influence on microvita? Different denominations of microvita must exist, negative microvita that catalyze towards matter and materialism, and positive microvita that catalyze towards an increase of expressed consciousness.

This new ontological approach will be the basis for a new paradigm. All fields of science will find new doors to their object of research, but also physics and metaphysics will be connected.

EQ and SQ Approach to Education

Dr. F. M. Sahoo, Ph.D.: Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar

Summary of the abstract

Care, trust and respect for diversity, provide the basic foundation for education. Students need as role models, teachers who consistently are responsive and available. Instructors must make sure that there is a sense of trust in their classrooms. They must avoid cynical attitude about students, because this undermines the trust that is so crucial for learning. An important aspect of care and concern involves the recognition of the saliency of diversity of student background and opinions in the classroom. This is possible by encouraging individuals to become sensitive to the ideas of people other than those from their own group.

Another important item in the efficiency of learning is the setting up of goals. Goals and especially ‘stretch goals’ are especially helpful if agreed upon by teachers and students. When in the course of reaching continuously higher goals students acquire the spirit of curiosity they become lifelong problem solvers.

All these objectives of education take tangible shape only within the framework of emotional and spiritual intelligence. IQ contributes for only 20% of success; the rest comes from emotional intelligence. For superior competence in jobs of all kinds, emotional intelligence matters twice as much as IQ plus technical skills combined.

Spiritual intelligence (SQ) is uniquely human. It allows us to dream and to strive. Indicators of SQ are the capacity to be flexible, a capacity to face and transcend pain, the quality to be inspired by vision and values, to be holistic, to seek fundamental answers and a facility for working against convention.

Future Education – Inner and Outer Ecology

Dra. Marta Attunes : Ananda Marga Yoga Madeira; Dra. Marta Antunes Yogaterapia

Abstract

Proper education is that which deals with spirituality; is that which brings an inner balance that shines out in the world, providing adequate help for those who need it. A truly successful individual is balanced in its own self (inner ecology) and creates resources for others to achieve this same balance (outer ecology). Utilizing the science of bio-psychology, we can understand that the prevention of physical and psychic disorders must be achieved through a sentient life style and nurtured through our educational system. Furthermore, the knowledge, which cultures ego, is a liability. Hence, education must culture the spirit of service and social upliftment (inner ecology) and invite abundance through total alignment with nature (outer ecology).

 

“Sá vidyá yá vimuktaye - Education is that which liberates”