NHE Teacher Training at Lotus Children Center
Soko, Accra, Ghana – August 24-29, 2014
By Didi Gayatri
The NHE Teacher Training in Accra Ghana was attended by six teachers. The program began with a movie on “Ananda Marga: A Journey in Joy” which highlights the different aspects of Ananda Marga philosophy such as PROUT, Neohumanism, vegetarianism, fasting, yoga and meditation as well as various social service projects around the world. The teachers got inspired from the film to learn more about yoga and health.
On the second day, Didi Gayatri gave a workshop on “Expansion and Expression of the Young Child” in which she explained the importance of sensory experiences for the development of the brain of the child. She introduced using fun, playful methods for teaching, and demonstrated how to guide the children in expressing themselves through creative arts, singing, dance, playing, games, sports, etc. The class was very interactive and as Didi introduced different concepts she asked the teachers to think about how they could be applied in the school.
The main idea she conveyed was the importance of preparing the child from early childhood to be receptive to new ideas. The consciousness of the child is longing for expression and expansion. From the time of conception, the 5 layers of mind are motivated by the consciousness to “program” the brain for functional use spiritually, intuitively, creatively, cognitively and physically. Taking good food and doing proper physical exercises helps in physical expression; morality serves as a base for psychic expansion; intuition is developed through fine arts and through meditation, the children pursue the goal of life. Only when the person’s desire for the infinite is stronger than other desires can yoga- unification happen, just like a river merging in the ocean.
As part of the workshop, the teachers worked on their curriculum for the year so that they could apply what they learned.
On the third day Didi Ananda Candrasekhara gave a workshop on “Body – A Biologic Machine”. In Ghana yoga is said to be related with black magic so many people are negative about it. Didi explained what yoga is and described the benefits, including explanations of fasting and health; asanas (yoga postures) and kaosikii (yogic dance).
Each human being needs to be physically fit, mentally strong and spiritually elevated. There are 7 energy centers in the body. There are 50 propensities – emotions that are expressed through those centers. Religion puts fear in the minds of people. Meditation, on the other hand, gives happiness as the mind is filled with vastness.
The teachers requested to meet together for a weekly yoga postures and meditation class which has since then been started.
On the fourth day, Didi Ananda Girija, a Ghanaian Didi who works in 4 schools in Kenya, shared her experiences. She described how she became a missionary of Ananda Marga and told of the responsibilities and sacrifices of a teacher.
To be a teacher is not to get but to give out. To be a teacher one should have a strong desire to impart knowledge. If the person is a teacher only to get economic income there will not be proper teaching. In Ananda Marga schools teachers are members of our family, we embrace them like our own. This is what Neohumanism is. This is the call of love. Nowadays immorality is spread throughout the whole world but children who come in contact with our schools will naturally develop habits of good moral conduct, they will learn to be respectful and responsible. In Africa most parents leave the house early in the morning to work so they even do not know if their child attended school on that day or not. The teacher should always say the truth and give a good example to their students.
After Didi Girija’s class, all of us went on a trip to do social service in a poor stricken village in the Central Region of Ghana (about 250km away from our school in Accra!). Since many of our teachers are mothers they also brought their children and babies with them. It was not compulsory but all of them wanted to come. The roads were very bad and transportation slow. As we arrived about 300 of the local people were very excited to get new clothes, shoes, bags, biscuits and candies so they crowded over and soon everything was beyond our control, but everyone got at least one article. What teachers said:
“… I would like to do more social services because I was very happy to see that the people were all happy to come for the goods we have for them. I would like to do more for the needy one. I wish that one day I can also gather things to distribute to those who are in need.” Abigail – KG1 teacher
“It was my first time embarking on such activity, travelling from the city which I have lived all my life to a village just to distribute articles to the needy ones. It was distributed without favoritism in the sense that the toddlers, young and old all had something to take home.” Kofi – KG2/Class1 teacher
On the fifth day, we had in-school service day, where we all cleaned up the school.
The last day we had an exam just to see what the teachers understood. In Ghana most of the people don’t read books due to economic hardship and struggle for survival. We knew that it would be difficult for the teachers if the classes were given in a complex intellectual way so we made it simple and interactive. By their evaluation I could see that they understood the inner spirit of what we wanted to teach them.
“NHE is about how to create a universal world, where there will be love for all creatures”.
”NHE is teaching to love everything in the world and care for them.”
“Vegetarianism helps the body to be strong and healthy as well the mind becomes sharp as you can digest well.”
“Meditation is to sit to think only about God. It helps the mind to think good things and gives an open mind for the day.”
For me the most important and satisfying output of the training is that now the teachers work whole heartedly and are ready to sacrifice more for a better school.