Sai Education in Human Values (UK)
Welcome to the October 2005 issue of our monthly e-zine.
If you have any feedback about this newsletter, or would like to share your experiences of SSEHV, please write to us.
September Holiday School at ELAC centre, September 12th to 16th, 2005
by Barbara Edmondson
Twenty eight children aged between 5 and 12 attended the second Holiday Day School run by Peaceful Solutions, in co-ordination with Burnley Play Association.The children were from Stoops and Griffin Estates.There were three trained teachers of Education in Human Values and three Peaceful Solutions volunteers, all having done training with Peaceful Solutions.There was always at least one Play Association staff in attendance.
Peaceful Solutions uses a well established Human Values Programme called SSEHV [Sathya Sai Education in Human Values]. The Programme was designed to bring out the inherent goodness in all and to develop self esteem and self confidence.There are 5 human values, so each day was devoted to one of the values. On Monday it was Peace; Tuesday, Truth; Wednesday, Non-Violence; Thursday, Right Conduct and Friday, Love.
Each morning, we started with a Silent Sitting, followed by a story and group discussion about the Value of the day.The children were given an opportunity to act out the story.There are songs that stress the value of the day, so each day a new song was learned. After a short break, the children enjoyed art and design, all relating to the value of the day.
Staff at the ELAC centre were most surprised and delighted at our lunchtime activity. After a food prayer, usually said by one of the children, everyone eats their food in silence! They are invited to think with gratitude about the people who grow food, those who prepare the food and their parents who had to pay for it! We sat silently for at least 10 to 15 minutes and sometimes longer, even when given permission to talk, they remained quiet or whispered!
The afternoons were more active. On Monday there was Tai Chi, and on Tuesday and Thursday,Yoga. On Wednesday we had a day out at Offshoots at Townely. Phil Calvert gave a tour and talk about the work they do at Offshoots and invited the children to learn more about plants and especially herbs, giving them samples to feel and smell and to see if they could recognise any of them. At lunch time the children were delighted to have their lunch in the workmens hut! After lunch, the children presented Phil and Alan, another member of staff with posters and thank you cards that they had made the day before. The posters were large posters of the 5 fruits in the SSEHV Programme, that depict the 5 human values. Phil said he was going to put them up in his office. The children sang two of their favorite songs, ''I am the way I am and I'm very happy with that'' and "Peace, peace, peace". We finished the afternoon with fun and games on the field.
Another highlight was on Thursday, when the children were entertained by a magician! They loved it! There was a lot of laughter and audience participation, followed by party games and prizes.
On the last day, the children did a concert for the staff.They divided themselves into 4 groups and decided what they would to do. The older girls did some dancing, and then, under their guidance, we all joined in. Three younger girls did a play which they made up, about bullying. Then there were two groups of younger children who did puppet plays. It ended on a happy note when we all showed our appreciation of each other. One girl of 12 stood up and asked if she could give a speech. She said it was the first time she had been to one of our holiday schools and she was grateful to be allowed to come. She said she didn't know how, but it had changed her life! What more could we ask?
For further information about Peaceful Solutions (a registered charity), or the holiday school, contact organiser, Barbara Edmondson.
by Joyce Power
"Education is Concentration" was an innovative approach to education I had not encountered, before an interview with Sathya Sai back in December, 1997. The statement, however, struck a chord with me, as I was then, and still now, involved in an educational Programme where children learn maths and English, through a method where concentration skills are developed, and are paramount in the learning process.
My experience of the first Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Camp [also known as a 'Values Alive Event'], as a teacher, was profound and challenging. The camp generated an intense love energy which reflected the love energy of the headteacher, Stephanie Singh. All the volunteers and children were on a 'love high' by the end of the 5-day camp.
The challenge for me, when asked to be headteacher of a camp the following year, was to retain the love energy of my first experience, whilst creating an atmosphere of peace which I felt could facilitate better learning and retention of the human values experience - an experience that I hoped would influence the volunteers, and in particular, the children, for a very long time - perhaps throughout their lifetimes. As I thought about how I could achieve this, the view of 'education as concentration' began to take hold of my ideas. Concentration and focusing of the mind would definitely generate a peace energy. I knew this from my years of practising and teaching yoga. However, this would be quite a challenge with a hundred children attending from local state schools, where creating a focused mind was certainly not a key factor in education. Also, my experience of the modern day child was one with deteriorating concentration skills.
Since then, the seven camps I have organised follow a similar pattern. The emphasis is on creating a focused mind and a heightened awareness, enabling all the participants to practice and experience more fully, the human values of truth, love, peace, right action and non-violence.
Each day of the 5-day camps start with volunteers arriving early for a yoga and silent sitting or meditation session. Concentration is encouraged through focusing on the breath, physical movements, a relaxation exercise, and the Guided Light Visualization exercise.
The children arrive soon after, when the first activity of the day involves focusing on a pencil point as the children colour a picture. This is done silently. The teacher welcomes and instructs the child on the activity in a gentle, soft tone, whilst an assistant sets the example, by engaging in the same activity as the children.
all the children have arrived, and to a strict time table, the day starts
with an assembly, where children are introduced to the value of the day.
This is followed by various activities which include drama, sports, art
and craft, indoor board games, singing, and a martial art. Each child
participates in a typical SSEHV lesson every day where the value of the
day is discussed and elaborated through stories, songs and discussion.
Silent sitting to relaxing music or the guided light visualization is
introduced at the start or end of each lesson. The simplicity of the activities
in which all children, including those with special needs, can participate,
facilitates good concentration. The day ends with all the children singing
SSEHV songs in the hall. After the children have been dismissed, there
is a meeting of volunteers to discuss any issues that may have arisen
during the day. This concludes with a short relaxation and silent sitting
Feedback from volunteers, children and parents who have participated in the camps has indicated the value of the camps in sowing the seeds for positive change both in attitudes and behaviour. Volunteers have expressed a gratitude for having been given the opportunity to learn and experience the values; parents have been moved by the ethos of the camps; and the children have loved the experience. Weekly Good Values Clubs in the schools have resulted as a consequence of the camps.
As a former school teacher, the experience of the camps has been incredible, not only in seeing how effective the Programme is, but also in the realization that trust and surrender can make the impossible happen, and with such little effort! I am ever grateful that all the skills I have learnt throughout life, are now being put to use in such a fulfilling manner.
further information, or any advice about organising similar holiday schools,
Below are some testimonies from the participants:
From a parent:
"In the three days, I have learnt how to relax and trust everyone in the room. I have enjoyed watching the children grow and come out of themselves and making friends. Deep down I lack confidence and as the days passed I could feel a growth within me. I love the meditation; it always helps me connect spiritually with everyone around me. I love the singing and acting and have enjoyed being part of a truly wonderful experience. I love the simplicity of it all, sitting around the lovely long wooden table, sharing beautiful food. There has been a lot of kindness and I would like to thank you for inviting me on this spiritual journey." - Joanna
" I enjoyed the Good Values Drama Camp for several reasons.
1. The kids without exception enjoyed the course and had great fun.
2. It was a joy to watch the self-confidence of several of the children grow.
3. I was amazed at how certain children were able to happily plunge into
a spontaneous drama, whereas I, a very mature adult, felt initial shock-horror,
and was usually devoid of any ideas to put into such impromptu acts!"
Don, Volunteer and qualified school teacher
" I thoroughly enjoyed our small Camp which encapsulated the values in a variety of ways. It was lovely to see the children gaining in Confidence & Self Esteem, and accepting each other so readily. The feeling of being respected, loved and accepted was established very quickly.When asked to contribute on the first morning, no hands went up. By the end of the three days, everyones hand was up. The children joined in all of the activities which brought out the values and their own individual uniqueness. The Camp was fun, thoughtful, bond-creating, challenging in a gentle way, character-building and stimulating. And I enjoyed it as much as the children so evidently did." - Sylvia, Volunteer
From the children:
" This Camp has been a different experience for me. I thought it would be lots of different drama activities. But I found out that it was much deeper than that: it was really about human values and what we we all thought and understood about Truth, Good Conduct, Love, Peace & Non-violence. One of the activities that I liked most was when we each had a long piece of cloth, a tennis ball and either a feather or a soft toy. Then we went up to the front in pairs or individually and told some stories from our lives. Overall I found the Camp fun and entertaining." - Izzy, 12
Copyright © 2005 British Institute of Sathya Sai Education (BISSE). BISSE is a non-profit organisation committed to promoting human values in education.
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