ETC at Ananda Shila, India

December 2006
By Didi Anandarama
This year’s ETC was a step towards going deeper into the pedagogy of NHE and the art and practice of teaching along the lines of Neohumanism.
There was a presentation on the step by step process Mediation that can be introduced in grade 6 to students to become peer mediators in resolving their own problems and conflicts. (see notes on Mediation in this issue). After presentation of the method, the participants divided into 12 smaller groups and prepared a mediation skit to be demonstrated for all. Unfortunately only one skit got the chance to be presented, but it was a most significant skit of a real incident of a teacher beating a child in school and the conflict between the parent and the school.This model dilemma brought to our attention again the issue of corporal punishment in the classroom. The general consensus was to move away from physical punishment and mental abuse to developing a classroom atmosphere where there is regular ‘Circle Time’ and where the children and teachers build a caring community.
Our special guest was Dr. Anju Khanna who came all the way from Delhi to speak about her experiences in the classroom and what true education in action is all about. She was impressed by the vast compound of Ananda Shila and the great potential it has as a Neohumanist Education Centre.One afternoon there was an array of seven parallel workshops, such as rhymes, story sharing, dance and drama,
mediation training, Circle of Love, NHE Introductory Course and a miscellaneous group with our guest speaker Anju Khanna.A class on ‘Common Errors in English’ was given by Ac Krsnakamalananda Avt which the participants could take back to present in their own schools.Avtk Ananda Anurakti Ac presented a workshop on the “Practice of Neohumanist Education.” She brought examples and demonstrated how to teach and capture the children’s attention using local, natural and recycled material such as wood, plastic, wool and other materials. Deservingly she received a prize for the best workshop.
Other interesting and practical workshops were on creating an aesthetic learning environment, how to write a story for children in book form, a special rhymes class by senior most Didi Ananda Giita, how to set up the school’s office room as a public reception place, communication skills, financial intelligence and how to make your own website. The workshops were presented by local and overseas Acaryas.
The highlight of the ETC was the last cultural programme prepared during the ETC and presented to the villagers who came from far and wide and stayed late into the night bearing the chilly cold. The children of the local primary and high school enacted dances and dramas and culminated with a special highlight of a pre-recorded educative story with Prabhat Samgiita songs from Shiva’s life.
At the conclusion of the ETC, participants were given the following assignments to complete over the course of the year:
-Write a story of 16 pages and illustrate it with the aim of publishing it in the local language and in English translation.
-Learn English by giving the class on “Common Errors in English” to others and learning 2 new words every day.
-Stop corporal punishment in the school
-Teach and practice mediation
-Make a website for your school
-Make a school yearbook with the help of the students.
-Those who take the NHE course will complete the assignments and coordinate region-wise for feedback and exchange. They will keep a portfolio with all assignment papers for review at the December ETC 2007.