International Neohumanist Center in Chandigarh, and Noida, New Delhi
By Rutger Tamminga
Gurukul, India organized two seminars on Kids Yoga and Storytelling, February 7-9, in the newly constructed International Neohumanist Center in Chandigarh, and February 15-16 in Noida, New Delhi.
The seminars were organized by the Kulapati of Gurukul and attended by dedicated educators from around the country. For me it was an exciting event. Neohumanist Education as a movement originally started in India, but has been explored very actively all around the world. Sharing some of the non-Indian experiences of working with the Neohumanist ideology in India itself and see how it can connect (or not), was something that I looked forward to.
The seminars first introduced the elements that can contribute to creating more ideologically inspired schools. I mentioned seven main aspects Neohumanist Schools can strive for:
Develop a Consciousness Based Child Psychology: Teachers and management form study groups to develop a more reflective educational practice in tune with inner development.
Character Education: Based on the yogic moral guidelines of Yama and Niyama, story resources were shown.
Ideal Based Curriculum: Our academic knowledge that we wish our students to acquire is centered on a social or moral ideal. This makes learning not just transfer based but also transformational and inspiring.
Bio-Psychology: Yoga based sensory integration for health and proper body – mind balance.
Quiet Time Exercises: Introversion contributes to greater intelligence. The practice of quiet time also helps in self-control and emotional regulation.
Social Outlook: the integration of local culture and festivals in the curriculum.
Community School: Parental involvement in the school and guidance to parents.
After this short overview of what Neohumanist schools practically can look like, the workshop introduced movements inspired by yoga for body-mind balance. A yoga class consists of many aspects: warm-ups, yogic greetings, breathing, yoga songs, partner games, massage and relaxation. And of course storytelling was part of the training too. The participants did prepare stories and story props which they used to entertain the audience in vivid and dramatic fashion.
Much of the seminar was very practical and experiential. And the teachers participated very well. I think for some it was an opportunity to feel and enjoy the love of learning, rather than learning and teaching as responsibility only.
For twenty plus years I had been giving seminars in Taiwan and China, Malaysia and other south-east Asian countries. The academic focus in all these countries is often on test performance only. While I found that while many Indians are very devotional, the educational practices are also not in tune with this sensitivity. The teaching practices seem to lack the psychological insight that connects the inner world of divine love with the external world of practical living, as if they were two separate and disconnected entities. In this respect Shrii P.R. Sarkar’s Neohumanist educational concepts of integrated learning will be of great value.
This is a long term project, but with great potential to impact many people. Currently NHE India has close to a thousand schools. For a country that is geared to become the most populated nation on the planet that may appear to be small. But with a firm and unique Neohumanist inspired education system we can support thousands of other schools as well.
Dadaji Shambushivananda, Gurukul’s Kulapati is determined to make this happen and invites others to join this effort.
Personally being in India again, and travelling with Dadaji was a deeply uplifting experience, and the chance to meet wonderful and loving people, who welcomed us into their homes, shared their time and food generously and supported this educational work with all their hearts. Many thanks to them all and I look forward to the next step in this journey of supporting Gurukul in India.
Reflection on the Seminar
We are like candles waiting to be lit!
All it takes is one human heart on fire
to ignite the passion in others
to caste off limits,
and delight in the little things where miracles,
once obscured by habit, lie patiently waiting
to link the thirsty soul
with that longing for the Great
that seeds new stories and flows
toward our inner/outer horizon
where once impossible things blossom,
and release that fragrance
which is the gift of one intoxicated heart