Education Based on Neohumanism and PROUT
Applied in a Local Community School of Learning, Thailand
Jareeporn Naksamrit, Ph.D.
Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand
Should educational administrators and educators apply theory in their schools? Educational administrators and educators must think about what society could be like, and how civilization could develop. They must consider how their schools can contribute to bringing about a new era, and to creating a balance between quality of life for human beings, other living beings, the environment, resources, and universal flow. Theories bring knowledge but they need to be tested in schools.
School is one of the places for socializing children and preparing them for a peaceful society. Schools need theories that suit their needs and that they can apply practically. Neohumanist Education was created, based on neohumanism, so that neohumanism could be applied practically in schools, and to prove that the theory can profit humanity. Now Neohumanist Education is well known and ready to be applied in schools other than those called “neohumanist schools”. In the past 25 years, many neohumanist schools have emerged around the world. Some are run by Didis and Dadas of Ananda Marga, some are run by members of Ananda Marga, and some are private schools run by those interested in Neohumanist Education. There are many reasons why educators choose to apply Neohumanist Education in their schools. Neohumanist school systems have improved processes of teaching and learning, and they train their teachers in the values and ideals of neohumanism, adapted to the context of each culture.
Some schools are already partially neohumanist, using holistic approaches and reconceptualizing what it is to be human. Neohumanism is a process of becoming consciously, self-consciously, human, and neohumanist education follows the idea of neohumanism. Neohumanist schools specifically adopt principles for living based on the ethic of universal love. Neohumanist Education is imbued with spiritual force because it acknowledges and actively promotes spiritual practice which is the foundation for developing universal love. Neohumanist educators explore how to teach holism, how to help old-style teachers reconceptualize what it is to be human. Neohumanist educators work hard at this practice themselves in order to be able to lead students and to relate to people in a neohumanist manner.
Ethics (Yama and Niyama), meditation, yoga, positive thinking etc., are taught in the whole school. The teachers work to create a feeling of universal love in all students from nursery, to primary, secondary and high school, up through higher education, as well as in all people who are part of the school’s community including parents and others.
This allows better practical application of neohumanism to education and allows neohumanists to better bring the idea to the general community. Some schools are good in neohumanist management, but some just apply a concept such as morality, ethics, or a feeling of universal love. They need more guidance in practical neohumanist process.
The Princess Mother Community School of Learning (Satit Chum Chon Kan Rean Roo Som Dej Ya) is a demonstration school in Srinakharinwirot University. In it, there is a pilot protocol school project for educational research. We try to develop, provide, and manage quality education for poor and disadvantaged youth from mountain villages that are far from civilization. The Princess Mother Community School of Learning is a boarding school for students in the secondary level (Mathayom 1-3). Current research is on self-reliance and vocational education. The school does not force students to learn mainstream academics that have little meaning for survival. The school environment is like a big family, where teachers, students and staff are all one group. Students learn by brainstorming, and through real practice as the program is student centered. The school emphasizes self-reliance in combining knowledge out of books with the use of local wisdom of various ethnic people in the northern hill tribe area. After graduation, students can live in the world and survive with simplicity and happiness. The king of Thailand (Rama IX), promotes sufficiency economy and as such could be considered a PROUTist. He said that when you learn you have no need to strictly take knowledge from books, you can just learn by doing. The Princess Mother Community School of Learning, like neohumanism, encourages students to live together peacefully in a moral manner, with a feeling of oneness. Normally the school encourages students to be PROUTist in their small school unit.
What is PROUT? What do we want society to look like?
School settings lead to the formation of communities as small societies. As is explained in PROUT, when humans form a society, they want civilization and peace — a world without war, without hunger or poverty, with human rights, democracy, environmental protection, peace, and justice. The main problem in the small communities where our children live is that there is no civilization, and the children and their families are hungry and poor. There is no way for them to get quality education if they do not have support. They may have apparent peace in the community but not real peace. Girls and women do not have equal rights with men. They don’t know what democracy is; only that politicians come and give them money to vote, so they call an election democracy. Their environment is destroyed by large-scale monocrop agriculture. Big companies come and give them seeds, with conditions, and the people in the community accept their offers. In this crisis situation, neither child, nor youth, nor adult knows that the business system is greedy. For these problems, education is the answer, and PROUT could be introduced in school.
PROUT is an acronym for Progressive Utilization Theory, a new socio-economic model based on self-reliance of each region, cooperatives, environmental balance and universal spiritual values. It is a holistic approach with dynamic principles that can be appropriately applied by citizens and leaders to help their region or country to prosper and become self-sufficient in an ecologically sustainable way.
Global capitalism is based on profit, selfishness and greed. The tragic result is that half the population lives, suffers and dies in poverty. Poverty is completely unnecessary, because there is enough food and wealth on the planet for everyone. PROUT’s solution to economic inequality is based on the obvious truth that the world’s physical resources are limited. If individuals accumulate too much, there will not be enough for everyone. Each country must decide maximum salaries, wealth, and land, and promote the maximum utilization and rational distribution of all natural resources. The right to life is fundamental. Society must guarantee the minimum needs of food, clothing, housing, education and medical care. The hierarchy of needs explained by Abraham Maslow says that “people whose physical needs and safety are guaranteed can more easily develop altruism and the highest potential.” The right to decent work is also a fundamental human right, and the minimum wage should be sufficient to purchase basic needs.
PROUT proposes to organize the economy into three levels (these principles can be applied to education on a small scale)
- First level is small private enterprises.
- Second level is cooperatives: industry, agriculture, consumers, banks and services, which are “the businesses of the future.” For cooperatives to succeed, they need: honest leaders, a good business plan, strict management, and the wholehearted support of the community. The government should provide: more training and regular inspections.
- Third level is large-scale strategic industries that require very high investments and are difficult to decentralize, should operate as public companies, and should never be privatized.
PROUT has an ecological and spiritual perspective that is lacking in many economic philosophies, but is still present in traditional societies. Indigenous spirituality invariably revolves around nature and the connection to all forms of life. Indigenous peoples did not believe that the land belonged to them, but that they belonged to the land. PROUT’s spiritual perspective recognizes that all humans have a thirst for peace and happiness. The purpose of life should be self-realization and service to humanity.
The Princess Mother Community School of learning is practicing PROUT naturally. Educators and teachers are not trained in and do not know neohumanism or PROUT ideology from their formal university, but they can learn by spiritual guidance, and from the social media, so that they can experiment with the application of PROUT in school. In the future Neohumanist Education and PROUT Theory must establish ways for people to bring practical ideas to formal schools, in line with PROUT’s goal of making each region self-reliant. This includes food sovereignty I hope that education theory and PROUT will be integrated, for the sustainable future for all living beings. Institutes for teachers must integrate them to make educational change, and to produce a model of education-based Neo-PROUT.