A discussion Paper by Dr Madhavi Majmudar, Sathya Sai Education in Human Values, UK
The NINTH ANNUAL
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON
The paper is in two parts. The first part of the paper will examine the contribution of the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values approach to educating the whole child by integrating values in all the activities of school life. It is a spiritual programme that seeks to promote the balanced development of the child through the five human values: Truth, Love, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-violence. The programme emphasises the "inner peace" of the child by using simple techniques. The underlying principle of this approach is unity in diversity.
The second part of the paper will be concerned with the role of the teacher in promoting greater understanding on the issues relating to the multi-ethnicity, cultural diversity and faiths in Britain. The emphasis here is on dialogic learning and interacting to enable teachers and schools to act as "listening communities" in terms of the school ethos and practices.
The National Curriculum 2000 for England states that education influences and reflects the values of society and the kind of society we want to be. It recognises education as a route to the spiritual, moral, social, cultural, physical and mental development and thus the well-being of the individual.
It can be argued that single minded focus on economic growth over much of the twentieth century has led to an erosion of human values. At the same time, there is an emerging new consciousness worldwide that affirms shared values of Peace, Equity, Social Justice, Democracy and Human Rights. These values are enshrined in the UN Charter and all other International Conventions and Declarations.
The Report of the UNESCO Commission on Education for the 21st
Century (1995) outlines the four pillars of education as:
SATHYA SAI EHV and EDUCATION FOR PEACE
The five teaching components used in the programme are: theme for the week( positive thoughts/prayer), silent sitting, stories, group singing and group activities. These direct components are used in a flexible and interactive way. In addition to these direct components, the programme integrates values in the teaching of all subjects and all activities of the school. The emphasis here is on educating the whole child rather than just separate subject areas.
Education must instil the fundamental human values….The higher life
which makes man human and a fit candidate for the unfoldment of the
Divinity that is his reality, depends on the cultivation of the cardinal
virtues - Truth, Right Conduct, Love, Peace and Non-violence. These
virtues elevate the individual as well as the society of which he is a
The Sathya Sai Education in Human Values programme takes a holistic approach to educating the child. The five universal values are also recognised by all major religions. The programme has a multi-faith approach and allows and encourages each child to follow his/her tradition and is therefore conducive to application in diverse cultural conditions. It seeks to develop positive values in the child by illustration and example rather than in a prescriptive way. It emphasises the triple partnership between the child, the parent and the teacher. The teacher is assigned a crucial role in developing these values by using the five teaching components and providing a role model.
The Conceptual Framework
The large circle in the diagram represents the physical body. We are not just the physical body but we also have a mind, which is very important in the learning process. The small circle in the centre represents the conscious mind. All arrows point towards the conscious mind. This is where awareness and understanding takes place. If the mind is calm and still, we can dive deep into the sub-conscious mind as well as raise our consciousness towards super-conscious mind.
The sub-conscious mind is the seat of all our memory. It can be
compared to the memory of a computer. We have to know how to retrieve the
information from the sub-conscious mind. It is through the activation of
the sub-conscious mind which stores all our past experiences that we can
find the roots of our negativity such as: anger, greed, pride, hatred,
jealousy, fear, anxiety and also any positive files.
The super-conscious mind is the source of wisdom, knowledge and intuition. Jumsai explains that in a balanced person, these three levels of mind contribute to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. For this to occur, it is necessary to free the mind from extraneous 'chatter' and also to ensure that the information that is stored is 'clean', positive and constructive. This is important as its retrieval will have a significant effect on the individual's thoughts and actions. Of course, it is not possible to remove the negative files from the sub-conscious, but building on the positive experiences helps to reduce the negative effects of past experiences.
Love is the most important quality with which a human being is endowed from birth. Love is interrelated to all other values. When love is combined with discernment from our 'conscience', or 'the inner self', it is Truth. The Absolute Truth is changeless throughout space and time. Basically, this Truth resides within ourselves and we call it by different names - conscience, 'inner self'. It is also referred to as the creative spark or intelligence within ourselves.
When the actions are based on the dictates of the 'inner self', they become Right Action or Right Conduct. The term Right Conduct is used, as there is no other equivalent term in the English language to describe the Sanskrit word Dharma to which it relates. Dharma refers to righteousness or moral action derived not from some external forces, but through an individual's own perception of what is 'right'. The five senses (smell, taste, sight, touch and sound) receive the information from the external world, but for the resultant action to be Right Action, interaction with the 'inner self' and love is necessary. 'Right Conduct' can be explained in relation to a number of related values. Examples of these are: courage, dependability, determination, helpfulness, politeness, perseverance, resourcefulness, etc.
When Right Action and Truth are practised, Peace follows. Peace is related to the recognition and management of feelings and emotions that are stored in the sub-conscious mind through past experiences. If, as a result of information from outside, the conscious mind retrieves some negative files from the sub-conscious mind, the resultant action may not be right action and in itself may add another negative file in the memory.
On the other hand, if the conscious mind (Head) refers the possible action to the 'inner self' (Heart), the resultant action will be the right action (Hands). Thus SSEHV is also 3HV - Head, Heart and Hands.
A person full of inner peace and love, following his/her conscience, will not act with violence: emotionally, verbally or physically. Thus, Non-violence is the final culmination of all other values. Non-violence relates to Non-violation. Non-violence is present when people do not violate self or others. It includes concern for all living beings in the form of Universal Compassion.
The reflection and the spark that has come out of Love is called
Truth. The same Love when expressed in action is called Right Conduct.
When Love is contemplated upon, mind attains supreme Peace. When we
inquire from where this Love comes, and understand its source, then we
realize the great principle of Non-violence.
THE TEACHING APPROACHES
The SSEHV programme has proved to be a powerful tool in promoting the overall development of the child in situations where it is used with full commitment.
The Five Human Values and Child Development
The core value in the SSEHV programme is Love. In practical terms, the development of love and empathy are taught through a set of related values as we will discuss presently. By positively reinforcing these values from an early age, it is expected that the child will be supported by positive influences adding positive memory "files" in the sub-conscious. Sathya Sai states that education must lead to a "broadening of the heart". This term encompasses expansion of love and consciousness and universal compassion.
Coles (1997) points out that basically all young people - sons, daughters, students - are looking for moral, as well as psychological, and cognitive direction. Babies need to learn yes and no. Elementary school children need to learn how to get on with others. Teenagers have even more difficult a task as they are learning to cope with physical maturation of their bodies and are, at the same time, put under tremendous pressure by peers, and by media influences. So how should we, as parents and teachers, convey our principles, values and convictions to the next generation? Most of the time we respond to the situations with our instincts.
We possess in our hearts, our bones, our guts (wherever our particular anatomy of moral intuition would locate it) an ethical sense of things, and we draw on it constantly. We also know way down within ourselves how eagerly most children look for moral clues from their parents, their teachers. (Coles, 1997, p170)
The current social trends in relation to the changing family patterns - an increase in one parent families, multiple partners and the shifts in the employment patterns with a greater proportion of women working - place tremendous pressures on those in charge of children's upbringing and welfare.
The Influence of TV
Johnson also referred to the studies (Healy, 1990, Pearce, 1992, Buzzell, 1998, Winn, 1985) which draw the attention to the possibility that the actual act of viewing television could have a potentially damaging effect to the brain of a developing child greater than the actual content of what is on TV. She further points out that the heart is now seen as an organ of perception that can respond to a stimulus and release a hormone-like substance that influences the brain's activity.
This phenomenon is referred to as our heart intelligence. Television cannot give us this intelligence of the heart.
If the heart, like the brain and probably the rest of our body, gives off electromagnetic waves (Pearce,1992, Tiller, 1999) then there is a form of subtle energy that only can be experienced between human beings by relating to each other in physical space. (Johnson,1999,p7)
The Role of the Teacher
Others have recognised the role of the teacher in conveying and promoting values. Carr for example concludes that:
But all this precisely reinforces the main
point of this paper that there cannot be any space for shortfall between
the values which a teacher holds and professes in his personal life and
what is expected of him in his professional life that might be possible in
other occupations. Because values are, of their essence, kinds of
commitment, and because a proper grasp of their significance requires
first hand experience of their operations and practical consequences, an
effective teacher of values can only be the individual who exhibits them
in his personal life . (Carr, 1993, p 205).
The children benefit from this approach as it gives them an
The five values are conveyed through a number of related values
which are summarised below for illustration, although many more can be
added under each main value.
Let us briefly consider each of the five components.
Theme for the week
Benefits of dynamic thinking/ positive thoughts/ quotations/poetry: It encourages positive thinking; helps develop self-confidence, introspection, humility.
The importance of introspection is recognised by many. For example, McGettrick, states that:
It is by no means obvious how in our educational practices, we educate the 'inner self'. It seems to me that this will be a crucial area for our attention in the twenty first century in Britain and a great deal of thought needs to go into thinking about it. (McGettrick, 1995, p3)
It is recommended that every class should start, if possible, with a couple of minutes of this exercise. The regular use of this tool will reduce the class noise and improve concentration. Silent sitting can be introduced in various ways.
Examples of these exercises include:
The benefits of silent sitting are: improved memory, better concentration, feeling at peace, equipoise, self-control, better intuition. Silent sitting is a very effective tool for young children especially in the age group 5-11 years and helps them to be in touch with their 'inner-self'. The need for this is widely recognised.
To summarise, story telling helps to develop listening skills, generates interest, develops creativity, imparts knowledge and provides inspiration.
Johnson, for example, lists a number of activities that can stimulate children intellectually. She recommends,
Read a lot of books to your children (especially ones without lots
of pictures) and tell your children lots of stories…. Telling your
children a story helps to stimulate their internal picture making
possibilities. (Johnson,1999, p8)
In the education of the future, music for every person will be deemed as necessary as reading and writing is at present, for it will be clearly seen that it is a most powerful means for bringing life, health and strength. (Prentice Mulfors 'Thought forces')
Most children like to sing, but may be shy to sing on their own. Singing creates a joyful atmosphere and is a good way of creating unity, harmony and self-confidence in children. The effect of song remains with the person long after the class is finished and the values that are in the lyrics will remain in the child's consciousness for a long time. Recent research has confirmed the positive effect of music in a variety of situations including class work.
Benefits of group singing include: promotes health (breathing), creates harmony and co-operation, strengthens the memory, brings joy in the class room and helps build good character.
All round development of children requires them to grow up and get on well with others. Children learn to communicate, co-operate and share with one another. They need to be effective listeners too. One of the main purposes of group activities is for the children to learn how to work and play in a harmonious way. Group activities include: role play and drama, games, quizzes, group discussions, and art and craft work.
Johnson (1999) points out that all activities in which children use their hands, feet and whole body in performing purposeful physical activities, help develop children's gross motor skills and myelinate pathways in the higher brain. Activities such as knitting, woodworking, origami, string games, finger games, circle games, painting, drawing and colouring help develop fine motor skills and also myelinate pathways to the higher brain.
The benefits of group activities in addition to the above include:
develop co-operation, creativity, sharing, unity, harmony, team work, and
listening to others' opinions.
It should be noted that a number of related values are labelled under each main values but in many ways they can be interchanged. Ultimately, all the five values have their origin in Love.
Thus there is considerable scope for the development of the teaching approach. The crucial role is assigned to the teacher.
The impact of the lesson plan does not necessarily lie in any one of the methods or even in the specific value itself, but it is the combination of the values and the components which provides its uniqueness. Furthermore, over time, the purpose is to develop the "inner connectedness" of the child.
Integration of values in the Curriculum subjects and
Jumsai (1997) provides a demonstration of how values can be integrated into Sciences and Mathematics. Burrows (1997) discusses and illustrates the integration of human values in Arts subjects and Extra-Curricular activities.
In Home Economics, the teacher may decide to offer an open choice to students from a range of related values. Activities can then be constructed around this theme. Example: Students can be asked to make pizzas starting from costing (budgeting and not wasting); buying ingredients (working co-operatively; good manners to sales staff); baking the pizzas (awareness, cleanliness and care) and then sharing the pizzas between themselves and with others, eating them with thanks and gratitude, then clearing up afterwards with friendship - all involving group activities. Different reactions and responses can be expected in terms of willingness to share, clear up, etc. This can become the focal point of the EHV hour in terms of final discussion analysing how they felt and what feelings were present. Both positive and negative feelings should be identified and accepted. They can then be discussed without criticism.
In the UK, the Good Values Club run by Dipak Fakey, at Abbey Primary School in Leicester, has set an excellent example showing how values can be conveyed through games as a lunchtime activity and after school activity, in addition to formal classes in PSHE. The school has received a special acclaim in its OFSTED report. Currently, the Sathya Sai Monthly Newsletter which is available through the Sathya Sai website gives suggestions on how to integrate values in curriculum subjects.
Taplin (2002) makes some practical suggestions on addressing contemporary problems in schools through the use of the five values.
When dealing with an angry child it can be helpful to use a "time-out" place where a child can "cool down" to a state where it is feasible to reason with her. When the child has settled down, the teacher is able to discuss the reason for conflict and the consequences of being angry.
Make pupils aware of the physical damage to health that can be
caused by excessive anger and by suppressing it - teach them to see that
conflict, if properly managed, can be a constructive way to grow and
Non-violence also means showing respect and understanding of the diversity of people's faiths and cultures around us.
To summarise, the three approaches used in the SSEHV programme provide a powerful system to elevate the development of the whole child nurtured in a value-oriented environment paying full attention at the same time to the requirements of the national curriculum.
Although, the impact of the programme in terms of changes in behaviour and the academic results is visible in most cases, the SSEHV programme has a lasting long term effect on the child which may not be easily measurable.
Kanu has given a lead in the practical application of the Human Values approach to Water Management in Africa. He concludes:
With rapid globalization and urbanization, our societies are increasingly becoming multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual. Widening income disparity is a fact of life in most African societies. For stability and prosperity amid such wide diversity, our society must draw upon, as never before, its reserve of values such as humanism, sharing and caring and respect for the dignity of the individual. The five human values: Love, Peace, Truth, Right Conduct and Non-violence, which are inherent in every human being, are the perennial streams which alone can provide sustenance to the nurturing of these societal values in young minds.
Water education provides a practical and useful context to
inculcate these Human Values through formal as well as non-formal channels
VEC shares the vision of a multicultural state 'based on a shared commitment to diversity and dialogue within the framework of a broadly agreed body of common values'. (B Parekh, ICA, Diversity Lecture)
We are all too aware of the heavy responsibilities of the teachers with multiple duties in addition to delivering the curriculum requirements. We are also aware that the stress level of teachers, as indeed of many other public service workers, is very high.
It is in this context that this project aims to create a positive dialogue within the teaching communities. The human values approach emphasises that teachers have to live the values to be able to convey them to the class. The teachers need to have positive approaches. Some practical ways of creating a positive classroom environment using the human values approach were suggested earlier.
The second project complements this by aiming to encourage teachers and schools to be 'listening communities' to meet the diverse needs of the pupils.
The Parekh Report (The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, Profile Books, 2000) views Britain as both a community of citizens and a community of communities. It reiterated that every society needs to be cohesive as well as respectful of diversity and must find ways of nurturing diversity while fostering a common sense of belonging and shared identity among its members.
The Macpherson Report (The Report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry,
1999) identified institutional racism as a major cause of social exclusion
in Britain. The existence of racism extends in all areas of public life
including education. The Report made specific recommendations on:
All these reports have recommendations on wide ranging issues to include citizenship and shared values, community cohesion, immigration, diversity, and education. The Cantle Team, for example, has called for a national debate to help develop shared principles of citizenship.
Despite the number of such Reports, the strengthening of legal provisions under the Race Relations Act 2000, and the Citizenship curriculum, there is a great need to have a positive understanding of what is involved in terms of the delivery of education. Unless teachers are comfortable with their feelings on these issues, providing them with a curriculum structure alone will not yield the desired results.
To illustrate in a broader context, for example, in the ensuing debate at the publication of Parekh Report which stirred up a lot of debate on the concept of 'Britishness', Stuart Hall (one of the members of the Commission on Parekh Report) made an important observation:
'How do you dig it so deep into the culture so that it is not just a matter of policy or of academic debate, but it is a matter of hearts and minds? How do you change the culture so that when people say 'Britain's finest hour' they see, as well as the young English and British people who (you know) kept Germans at Bay, they also see the West Indian and Indian pilots who volunteered to come and do something for Britain in 1939?' (The Runnymede Quarterly Bulletin, March 2001).
In a recent House of Lords Debate on Multi-ethnicity and Multi-culturalism (20 March 2002), Lord Parekh leading the debate, put the question to the Government as follows:
'Since our national curriculum does not fully reflect the great sacrifices of ethnic minorities in defending Britain and its civilisation 60 years ago and their contribution towards making this country rich and prosperous, what are the Government doing to set the record straight and suitably revise the national curriculum?'
The Project Proposal
We believe that work of voluntary organisations is important in creating a dialogue locally and through this process help schools to develop their own approaches and practices.
We are inviting schools from the Gateshead and Newcastle area to participate in Dialogue workshops in the next academic year. The programme will take the form of three one-day workshops initially. The timings and venue are under planning, but provisionally they are likely to be between November 2002 and May 2003. This will be followed by school centred work.
Three themes have been selected:
Member organisations of VEC have particular expertise to respond to different levels of the dialogical task. We describe this as the intrapersonal, interpersonal and group levels of learning.
1. Intrapersonal dialogue.
2. Interpersonal dialogue
3. Group dialogue
Members of VEC have contributed to the development of dialogue in different contexts so that these questions can be reflected on and the dynamics of power, decision-making and decision-taking can be understood.
We ask all teachers to develop an understanding of the connections between these strategies. We do not expect all teachers to become skilled exponents of the strategies, but rather to have experienced them. We are interested in teachers' understanding of the different levels of the task, so that it might inform the development of their own communication style in the classroom.
Strategies are not to be acquired to be put on as teachers walk into the classroom - they have to be lived. VEC believes that it is by putting a dialogical metaphor, rather than a curriculum delivery metaphor, at the heart of education that schools can achieve their educational potential.
Theme 2. Connecting with multi-ethnicity and cultural diversity;
listening, communicating and interrelating with focus primary school
We also hope to use the Sathya Sai EHV framework in the context of the issues relating to multi-ethnicity and cultural diversity and offer personal and social development programmes that incorporate these and the curriculum aspects.
The report by Blair and Bourne et al (DfEE, 2000) investigated school practices in over 20 multi-ethnic schools, to examine how these schools were attempting to raise the achievements of all students while taking into account the diverse needs of ethnic group students. They identified various features of an effective school.
Some of these were:
The authors conclude that in addition to these known indicators of
effectiveness, to be successful, multi-ethnic schools need to add a
particular slant: the recognition of group (historical, cultural, and
linguistic) needs, strengths, disadvantages and perceptions. They
Realising these goals would involve providing professional and personal development training to teachers which facilitate these processes and would commit organisational resources to developing new programmes specifically related to education in a multi-ethnic society and with special reference to working in contexts of linguistic diversity.
Such programmes could include generic modules on:
Theme 3. Building Multi-ethnicity and Cultural Diversity in the National Curriculum with special focus on personal, social, cultural and moral development and the citizenship curriculum
The National Curriculum 2000 for England does not provide specific guidance on how multi-ethnicity and cultural diversity are to be incorporated into the school curriculum.
Some ideas on how this can be done incorporating a human values approach are outlined each month in the Sathya Sai Newsletter. The Runnymede Trust Handbook on Equality Assurance in Schools (1993) gives a framework on integration of equality issues into the curriculum areas. A new and revised Handbook is due to be published shortly. This part of the project will explore these areas of curriculum delivery in-depth.
The final follow up phase will help develop teaching and learning strategies for specific schools in a co-operative and developmental way. This phase will be school-centred and negotiated school by school with a mentor from the project team.
Majmudar (2000) concluded, "The making of moral citizens in the context of SSEHV must mean persons with 'human excellence' which includes, in addition to academic abilities, strength of character and persons equipped with 'inner resources', ready to fulfil their role in the family, the society, the nation and the global community of which they are part."
The present paper has outlined the contribution of the Human Values approach in the context of education for peace. The core principle of Sathya Sai EHV is to provide an environment in which the balanced development of the whole child can take place. The child which is thus "connected" will have little difficulty in resolving conflicts in the external world and accept and celebrate ethnic and cultural diversity. The programme can be adopted to improve the classroom environment in any situation.
The current educational priorities and issues create an additional need to provide teachers with resources in the form of dialogic approaches of learning. These ideas are at a preliminary stage and will be piloted locally initially. However, there is scope to improve and empower teachers to work towards practices in their own context.
Majmudar, M. (2000). Moral and Spiritual Education Through Sathya Sai Education
in Human Values, Paper presented at the Association of Moral
Education, International Conference, 7-11 July 2000, University of
Contact Address: Dr Madhavi Majmudar,28 Chollerford Close,
Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 4RN, Tel. 0191 285 3110,
The author is member of the Executive Council of The Values Education Council, UK.