October 15-27, 2007 Hosted by Baan Unrak Primary School Sangklaburi , Thailand Report by Didi Anandarama
The second two week NHE seminar of a series of 6 has been successfully concluded. It was attended by 50 teachers including 20 from outside Thailand. The underlying theme of the seminar was Child Development which will continue to be recalled in the future seminars as we work on learning theories and curriculum. The main objectives of the seminar were reached with great success.
The gathering started off on a relaxed tone with a family feeling as several of the presenters and outside Thailand guests are now familiar with the local teachers. Didi Ananda Anuraga the principal of the school welcomed all and we enjoyed a display of judo and Thai boxing display by some students with their sports teacher Kruh Ponsi. Didi Anandarama as Gurukula representative introduced the landmarks in Child Development from the writings of Shrii P.R. Sarkar and introduced the presenters of the seminar.Yaduranii (Jolanda Koning) the director of the Zonnelight School from Holland presented her detailed observations of the young child form 0 to 4 years and the developmentally appropriate methods they are using in their kindergarten in Holland. She facilitated discussions with the kindergarten teachers and in team work with the other experts Mahajyoti, Abha and Madhavi a new set up of learning corners supporting the physical, sensorial, intellectual, creative and spiritual development of the child in the three kindergarten rooms took shape during these two weeks. The kindergarten also got a beautiful ‘Circle of Love’ mural by Didi Ananda Carushila. The teachers will be busy making the final arrangements before the start of the new term. They are excited about the innovations and will give it a good try. They feel that if it all turns out well this may be a model for other schools in the area.
Abha (Abha Akyer) who is an experienced Montessori teacher trainer working in a Montessori school in Taiwan, introduced practical materials that help support the development of the child. She demonstrated timeline materials that can be used teaching various concepts such a time, history, biographies etc. The teachers liked these materials as they could easily understand what Abha was talking about.
Madhavi (Ada Merz), an experienced teacher and director of another NHE school from Holland taught lots of practical ‘Circle Time’ activities to the kindergarten teachers such as songs, meditation techniques and story telling. She also discussed developmental stages of the child from her experience and elaborated on the many questions from the teachers.
Yoga for children of various ages was one of the highlights of this seminar. Didi Candrima led the regular early morning classes. She was joined by Mahajyoti adding some yoga for children. Mahajyoti Glassman was from the Morning Star kindergarten, Denver, USA and is an experienced yoga teacher trainer for children and adults accredited by the Yoga Alliance in the USA. Mahajyoti gave her main presentation on the benefits of yoga education for children and her classes had lots of humour and fun. All in all the participants enjoyed many hours of lively children’s yoga with various child appropriate ways of doing warm ups, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, games and story telling with yoga. As an end result Baan Unrak teachers made three yoga books for children, one for the kindergarten and two for the primary. Other participants as well made their own yoga books with nice illustrations and colours. At the closing programme the various groups presented a show of yoga for children which demonstrated that they got a good feeling for this healing element in Neohumanist Education. A summary of her presentation, on the benefits of Astaunga Yoga, is included in this issue of Gurukula Network.Mahajyoti also gave a presentation on ‘Communicating with Children’. This led into many hours of discussing problems that occur in real life in the classrooms and how to deal with them. The component of the social milieu that influences the child demands the creative intervention of the teacher considering the needs of the child. We will continue this topic in the following seminars as we will study the cultural and social influences on the child’s all round development. Along on the same theme Anandamayii, (Ina Lempereur) an instructor of psychology from Malta gave a presentation on the stages of development of Erikson. The teachers also prepared presentations on the stages of Moral Development of Kohlberg.
The art workshops with Didi ACarushila were another highlight – all of the teachers reached the objective of these workshop e.g. to be confident in expressing oneself through art. They demonstrated this in their final art piece telling about what they had learned in this seminar. They were surprised at their own achievement! They will make an art gallery and hopefully an atelier in their school in the future.“I am Joy, I am love, I am beauty inside me” was the main theme of Dada Caetanyananda’s practical fun filled classes. The teachers now have a clear idea of “Who am I” and how we are connected to all of life because we can feel what they feel. One teacher said that the spiritual teachings of Dada are very hard but it all makes sense. Another said that it takes practice to apply it. But all liked it very much and the song “ I am joy …” surely got ‘stuck’ and will remind them from where they have to act and let every expression originate from not only while teaching but in life in general. (See article on Ecology of Joy in this issue.)The extracurricular activities of this seminar were tours around the lush green jungle areas, the beautiful lakes and waterfalls. Although it was the rainy season we had rain only for a few hours one day. We had a visit to the Children’s Home where we celebrated the Naming Ceremony of 20 children.
All agree that this second seminar brought everyone still closer and that the whole experience went deeper. The practical bits and pieces of games and international songs were very much welcomed.We are looking forward to the next seminar which will carry on with the theme of Child Development and will have a special focus on Music Magic in the School and Language Arts and Mathematics.