Pre Conference Activity at the Ananda Prerana School
The Ananda Prerana School, located in Jarsuguda, is a Kindergarten in a newly constructed building with 60 children. Didi Ananda Pramita is the principal and Didi Ananda Kaoshikii the supervisor. The school has plans for expansion and of becoming a model Neohumanist school. Before the conference we held a pre-conference activity at the school where much work was done on upgrading the environment and the curriculum.
The school has nice vegetables and flower gardens and a big playground. We painted a big mural at the entrance gate with images of children going to school, watering plants, caring for animals, reading, dancing, riding an elephant and doing yoga and meditation. Inside the compound a long wall got the whole Yama and Niyama story, The Fairy Flower, painted on it.
We shifted the Morning Circle into the Dharma Cakra hall where all the children can sit in a circle. The room is called the ‘Circle of Love room’ and it now has a big mural of the Brahmacakra cycle on it. The children enjoyed the colourful additions to the school and even the gardener thought that the new murals went so well with the blooming flowers in the gardens which he tended.
I brought lots of puzzles, games, and books for them, including a magnet board with magnet attached letters, bead stringing, memory games, construction games, flannel board, etc.. We set up learning areas for different activities with tables and chairs, shelves, baskets and mats. The block area is demarcated with chalk on the floor, and there is a reading corner, a creativity room, etc.
The Conference Begins
The conference was held on the spacious Master Unit, Ananda Samvrddhi, where a Kindergarten is run with currently 90 children. Dada Hiteshananda Avadhuta is the principal and plans to expand the school in the near future to Primary and Secondary Schools.
The conference was attended by two dozen principals and teachers of Ananda Marga Kindergartens, Primary and Secondary Schools from different parts of India. The focus was practical implementation of Neohumanist Education practices. In the evenings there were sharing presentations and films of inspiring schools and projects. Some highlights of the conference:
Ideas for School Environment
– ‘Sa vidya’ ya’ vimuktaye’ – ‘Education is that which liberates’ to be posted on a public wall near the office.
– A bulletin board for informing parents and visitors about the school, the school calendar, events and announcements.
– Posting the E.D.U.C.A.T.I.O.N anagram with title “Objectives of NHE”. These are the traits in the child the school is aiming at through its teachings.
– A mural painting of Brahmacakra painted on a big wall.
– A Yama and Niyama poster for each classroom.
– Vegetable and flower gardens to tend and if possible animals to care for.
Circle Time /Morning Circle
– An optional style of gathering in a circle was introduced as an alternative to the usual row and columns. The participants practiced various elements of a 30 minutes Morning Circle:
– English songs with movement from the Circle of Love manual which has over 300 songs, Prabhat Samgiita singing or with mudras, recital of inspiring quotes and Sanskrit verses, sitting meditation, story-telling and yoga for children.
– A suggestion was made to hold smaller Morning Circles in individual classrooms where the content could be more age-appropriate.
The Didis and teachers prepared and demonstrated the various ways of how to tell a story: – Verbally with gestures and by varying your voice and adding songs to the story
– Using a book to show the illustrations while narrating the story
– Using the ‘Magic Circle’ with small figures on a landscape on a circular cloth
– Involving children to hold stick-puppets with the characters and objects
– Using flannel board and felt figures that stick to the board
– Hand puppets with a puppet theatre
Using the content in the Circle of Love book we discussed creative ways of teaching language and demonstrated easy to make material for sight reading. Language arts is basic to all learning. There are three abstractions:
1. Conceptualization – experience into thought – non-verbal
2. Verbalization – thought into speech – oral
3. Literacy – speech into print – written
Yearly STUVOL Curriculum
We discussed designing a yearly curriculum that brings NHE elements into the entire learning of the class. We elaborated on the STUVOL (Student Volunteers) syllabus using the Circle of Love manual and its themes for a two week period. Local cultural celebrations were added into the yearly calendar. For example the Spring Colour Festival theme is dealt with for two weeks. Each theme will not only be covered in the STUVOL period but also overlap into other subjects in coordination with all teachers. Each theme will have at least one leading story, then songs, rhymes, quotes, befitting Ananda Vanii, Sanskrit slokas, Prabhat Samgiita, selected vocabulary taught during Language Arts, a related science activity, art and crafts, games and other activities. Example:
Theme for 2 weeks
Quote/Ananda Vanii, sloka
Art and Crafts
Fish and Reptiles
Etc. see Circle of Love Manual
Creative, Individual Child-based Learning
We found a way to introduce new educational material such as puzzles, manipulative educational material, reading books, building blocks and other activities. At the Ananda Prerana School one room was set up as the Creativity Room where the new STUVOL syllabus will be implemented. Learning corners with tables and chairs, shelves and mats were set up. Children were instructed about the rules of how to work with the educational material on a one to one basis, and how to return the material after use. This learning method has enriched the child’s experience as the child faced new challenges and was able to measure their own achievement. The children also learn to rely on their own timing, making their own choices and practicing responsibility.
Teachers’ Attitude in the Classroom
When the teacher uses sweet, polite and respectful ways of talking and interacting with the children, the children copy the teacher and in the course of time the learning atmosphere becomes relaxed, pleasant, peaceful and ideal for learning. This attitude is in line with the dictum of Shrii P. R. Sarkar “The teachers must bear in mind that whatever the ages of their students – child, teenager, young adult, or older person – all to them are but children of different ages, and they too are children like them.”
NHE Conference Action Plan
– All material covered at the conference will be presented by participants at the upcoming Education Training Camp in Raipur.
– Jarsuguda Schools will be pursuing model NHE school status with attached Teacher’s Training
– Ac. Kishan Sood will be supervising schools and giving teacher’s training in Patna area and Nepal
– Hisar Naresh will establish a school at the Master Unit in Hariyana