Knowledge is Bliss:
An Experience Report of Neohumanist Teacher Training at the Neohumanist Toledo Cañada School, Capiatá, Paraguay
by Aniishá Domingues and Kevala Monteiro
Education is a transformation process based on universal love. With this assumption, we began this experience report of the teacher training which took place in March 2016 at the Neohumanist Toledo Cañada School in Capiatá, Paraguay, held by artist-educators Kevala and Aniishá and with the coordination of Didi Ananda Somadhara and participation of Didi Ananda Divyarupa. The training was attended by 8 school teachers.
A year ago, we started a study group of the book Neohumanism – Liberation of Intellect, by Shrii P. R. Sarkar with weekly meetings via Skype with other Brazilian educators. A common desire was to improve our understanding of Neohumanist Education and, who knows, come up with new practices in the schools and other Neohumanist projects in Brazil. The meetings were essential to strengthen the network among many educators, and inspire their individual careers as people who are committed to social transformation. Thus, we had already started thinking about concrete actions for training in Neohumanist Education. We had also been thinking about exchanges between educators of Neohumanist institutions in Brazil and worldwide. On this journey, we arrived at Capiatá, a rural municipality almost two hours from the Paraguayan capital Asunción.
Training in Neohumanist Education
It was a cool, misty morning at the Neohumanist Toledo Cañada School. Together with the eight educators of the institution, we plunged into the “Training in Neohumanist Education”, sharing and exchanging special moments among us.
According to Shrii Prabhat R. Sarkar, one of the key points of NHE is the trilateral development of human beings through education: spiritual, physical and mental. Thus, we began the day with a class on yoga asanas and meditation, promoting the well-being of the people involved. Our immersion followed with the theoretical exposition of Neohumanism bases, investigating fundamental concepts such as socio-sentiment, geo-sentiment, trilateral development and universalism, among others.
We emphasized the importance and the role of the Neohumanist teacher in the everyday doings at the school. Who am I? What do I believe? How do I act as an educator? These were the guiding questions for the dynamics and conversations among the participants. Besides this, we had the opportunity to share special moments such as the collective lunch in the schoolyard. Thus, among conversations, laughter and a delicious lacto-vegetarian lunch, we could experience learning and universal love as pedagogical facts.
In the second stage of our training, we chose to offer hands-on activities that could allow the educators to experience the playful and creative exercise. In our first activity, everyone dyed their fingers with colored inks and gradually materialized their own self portraits on the blank sheets of paper. Our second project gave free rein to creativity as we made rag dolls. The needles and flaps, dolls and smiles were themselves an exercise of active and creative meditation.
V’y’a é Vidya (Happiness and Knowledge)
In Paraguay, in addition to Spanish, a great part of the population speaks the indigenous language Guarani, which is a strong mother tongue that strengthens the heritage and memory of the Guarani Native People. We learned a few words such as V’y’a, which means happiness, a sound that immediately reminded us of Vidya – knowledge in Sanskrit. We thought then that for the Neo-Humanist Education, Vidya is not separated from V’y’a because, being guided by universal love, we get to know the world while we are overwhelmed with bliss! And so we ended our journey in a day of a lot of exchange in the Neohumanist Toledo Cañada School, with colorful fingers and full of inspiration for new steps.
The Neohumanist Toledo Cañada School is coordinated by Didi Ananda Somadhara. The school started in 1993, we have 246 children from 4 to 16 years old, garden to 9 grades.