REPORT OF “BALANANDINI” CLASSES CONDUCTED DURING OCTOBER 2020:
Balanandini – Online Sanskrit Classes for Children
‘Balanandini’ is a unique 8 hours Sanskrit learning course for children of age group 5-12 designed under the guidance of Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, Director ,SAFIC. The first batch of this course was conducted online by Ms Asha Radhakrishnan from 3rd to 25 October. The class happened weekly two times on Saturday and Sunday from 4.30.pm to 5.30 Pm.
Twenty children from various parts of the country had registered for this course. In this course the students were taught Sanskrit through Prayers, Subashithas, Stories, Vocabularies, Simple sentences and activities.
All the classes were concluded with students reciting “Punar Darshanaya” song. All the lessons were explained to the students with supporting Power Point presentations. On an average 20 students were present for every class. The students participated actively for all the classes and responded spontaneously for all the questions asked and exercises given to them.
The students are interested and showed their eagerness to continue further.
Garbhayoga Vidya – A Workshop on Yoga for Pregnancy
“Garbhayoga Vidya – a workshop on yoga for pregnancy” was organized online from 6th to 15th October. Sessions were conducted by Dr Nidhi Choudhary, a Yoga researcher and yoga consultant with specialization in yoga for women’s health.
Sessions were attended by people from India as well as Malaysia and USA. Sessions focused on Need for prenatal yogic lifestyle, as Yoga is about changing the mind to adapt to the changing phases during the antenatal phase. This is achieved through preparing the mind through asanas, breathing and other techniques of mind control. Thus, yoga plays a significant role from before conception till long after the birth of the child.
Also, sessions emphasized the importance of fetal talk therapy in pregnancy and pelvic floor strengthening practice of bandhas and mudra to prevent or cure incontinence issues.
Overall, the workshop was successful with good feedback from all the participants.
Feedback from few participants:
-Fetal talk therapy and yoganidra was explained clearly. The teacher’s approach was good (teacher – student). Mudras and Bandas were are also informative for me.
-They were interesting and I have learned many things and will try to practice them.
-Appreciate your honest way of imparting your knowledge. Sthambaasana was a very simple effective input sometimes we forget that basics can be very useful n effective
-Thank you for the classes which were truly holistic. Some of the discussions were relevant to us as individuals which I enjoyed. It was your hands on experience which made the classes more interesting.
-It was very interesting, insightful and interactive session. I have learned so much and hope with this knowledge I am able to prepare for my pregnancy.
An Introduction to Indian Philosophical Schools of Thought
This course was offered by SAFIC from 12 to 20 October with the aim of introducing the various Indian philosophical schools of thought. Around 25 participants had shown interest but finally around 16 participants attended the live classes facilitated by Ms Ruchita Rane from Mumbai. In the first class the participants were given an overview of the course and then in the successive sessions they were explained about the basic principles and ideas of various philosophical schools of thought like the Buddhist school of thought, the Jain School of thought, the Charvaka school of thought, the Sankhya school of thought, Nyaya school of thought, Vaisheshika school of thought, Mimansa school of thought, and Yoga school of thought. The sessions were interactive and the participants were clear that they want to learn the very basic things about these different schools of thought in a simple manner rather than entering into the intricacies of the subject. And this was followed by the facilitator. The participants were keen on drawing parallels or understanding the relevance and connection of our darshanas with the modern scientific or philosophical systems and these too were dealt with succinctly.
Feedback from few participants:
-Thank you very much! Great session and enjoyable!
-Thanks ma’am it has been an eye opening session.
Integral Education in Practice
With the idea of how the principles of Integral Education laid down by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are put into practice by various Schools, Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture (SAFIC) organized an E-Conclave in order to bring the representatives of various Schools in India following the Integral Education system for an interactive discussion. In this program organized on 23 October 2020, the representatives of various schools in India implementing Integral Education participated to discuss following:
-how are the principles of IE are put into practice into the existing system
-what innovative teaching learning practice are being implemented for the accomplishment of the IE aim
-what has been the impact of the IE practice
-what are the challenges faced in implementing IE principles
-what level of success has been achieved so far
-what is the way forward
Representatives who participated for the discussion
- Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry (1)
- Sri Aurobindo International School, Hyderabad (2)
Dr. Chalamayee Reddy
- Seth MR Jaipuria School, Lucknow (4)
Mrs. Asha Chadha, Vice Principal Junior School
Mrs. Mitali Srivatava – Head Mistress-Playgroup & Head Administration
Mrs. Kanika Chopra – Head Mistress-Pre Primary School
Mrs. Promini Chopra – Principal
- Future Foundation School, Kolkata (2)
Ms Suchandra Laha,
- Mirambika, Delhi Ashram (4)
- Sri Aurobindo International School, Patiala (2)
- Mirambika School for New Age, Bangalore (5)
Annapoorna – Teacher
Mrunalini – Teacher
- Sri Aurobindo Center of New Education, Jodhpur (2)
- Sri Aurobindo School of Integral Education, Chandigarh (2)
Mr Arvind Mehan
Ms Garima Bharadwaj
- L’Avenir Pre school (2)
Anuradha and Sunaina
- Sri Matri Vidya Mandira, Ratlam (1)
- Neevam – The School, Amaravati (2)
Neeta Nabonita Kakkad
- Matrikiran School, Gurgaon (1)
- Deepanam, Auroville (2)
Deven and Shalini
- Aha Kindergarten, Auroville (1)
- Sri Aurobindo Centenary School, Tadipatri (3)
- The Integral School, Hyderabad (1)
- New Life Education Trust (1)
Shri Prasad Tripathi, Secretary, NLET (representing Integral Schools in Odisha)
Summary Note (prepared by Pragya Upadhyaya from Seth MR Jaipuria School Lucknow )
Take Away Mantras
- There are all different types of people working together in a team. Some are driven from their vital energy, some are more physically oriented, and others are more mentally involved. The problem comes when one kind of leadership, fail to acknowledge the approach of people with other type of dominant life energy and totally discard their option or don’t make them a part of the discussion, simply because of the expected variation in thoughts.
- This sometimes creates a Yes-man kind of environment, as all core members are similarly opinionated, and diversity in outlook is not entertained. This can be a huddle in the progress and creativity.
- Learning to co-exist and function in an inclusive manner with dissimilar types of people, where everyone is given a platform and their voice is heard, is inevitable.
- As a leader, even if you are not too sure, but if your team member is confident, sincere and ready to put in efforts in their approach to yield the desired results, leadership needs to put trust in them and encourage them to try a new way out.
- There need to be a fearless working environment, where failure of a strategy does not make the executer a failure, and failures are taken as challenges and not as disappointments
- A culture needs to be developed, where the challenges are discussed openly and brainstorming happens by welcoming different diverse perspectives where leaders also share and embrace personal condensed experiences, without judgments.
- One-pointed clarity that the goal of the teachers is Service! This is the one of the utmost pious roles, and demands penance, self-refinement and surrender. A teacher is nothing but a Yogi.
- Transformation can be very well facilitated with the help of environment & influence. Methodology can be always flexible, depending on the circumstances.
- Three aims to keep in mind are Free progress- freedom to be oneself, Self-discipline-Control that comes from within and not from outside, & the development of will-power.
- Four most important values to be cultivated in the Teachers, Parents and Students are Love, Trust, Freedom & Silence.
- Children need to learn the importance of facing the consequences of their actions and developing their own power of description between right and wrong.
- Parents and Teachers need to ensure that they do not cut away the time and learning experience, necessary for a child’s growth by hurrying it up or impatiently correcting it, rather children must be promoted to learn and evolve in the moment, by completely undergoing that experience, in the supportive presence of the adults.
- Children must be treated with respect and there need to be a culture of effective dialogue and two-way communication with them and the adults; their consent should be taken while making choices and decisions for them.
- Being in touch with our own self and acting out from there is the most important thing as leaders and educators.
- Education needs to be Enjoyable and Engaging instead of seeking approval and external validation.
- The Joy of the students for learning is the best feedback and a mirror of their inner growth & outer learning.
- Teachers & parents need to be absorbed in what absorbs their children.
- Explore the possibility of “no teacher-no learner classroom”. Only the flame of inner light needs to rise higher.
- The most important thing for a teacher is to know the background story of each and every child in the classroom.
- Guidance needs to come in accordance with the temperament of the child.
- Children should always feel invited and welcomed. There should not be any interference in their creative expression.
- It’s important not make any thing compulsory by force rather giving multiple choices & alternatives to the children.
- Children don’t have the critical thinking, analyzing and reasoning skills like adults but they have the capacity to observe very minutely and the flexibility to change more rapidly than adults.
- We are here to do what others can’t do; because they have no idea it can be done. And make matter ready to manifest the spirit.
- We are here for opening the way of the future for the children of the future! Anything else is not worthy to be done, other than this.
- Remember, it’s not because of us, but despite of us!
Common Challenges and New Areas to be Explored
- How to Facilitate IE in middle school and secondary school with non-flexible syllabus and board exams?
- Do we need to get rid of ‘the competition’ and ‘the compulsory’ or they can go hand in hand with IE?
- Self-reflective and concentration practices
- Designing an effective structure for parental involvement.
- How is the experience and parental reaction for ‘no school uniform, except for the sports’; ‘no formal exams until class 7th ’ and ‘no books till class 4th, except languages’ ? What are the challenges that you are facing with this?
- How effective is the practice of Satang in the assembly? How are you able to make the adolescents interested and participative? What are the challenges that you are facing with this?
- How can we measure the impact of IE practices on the children and the teachers?
- How to check if children are happy, grounded and self-motivated?
- How to ensure that the team is motivated enough?
- Can DIYAS like model be followed in every school where some of the most empathetic teachers are made the point of contacts or facilitators of IE?
- Do you have any data to elaborate how IE students are able to excel in the highly competitive outside world?
- How do you maintain a highly demanding system, to prepare innovative teaching methodologies and artistic environment for creating psychological and aesthetic beauty?
- How to maintain a daily, rigorous and unbroken physical fitness routine especially for the middle school and secondary students? What are the prerequisites for the coaches-How do they prepare their lesson plan? How do you ensure the progress of all children at physical level?
- How to manage the problem of Teacher is to Student ratio imbalance? Is it possible to get effective results with significantly high teacher::student ration, like 1::45? What could be the solutions?
- How do you build rapport with the child on day to day or weekly basis so that a bonding at personal level is developed with every student? How to ensure or monitor that it’s effectively done by the teachers? Is there any structure been developed by any of the IE school that can be helpful for the rest?
- Would you like to elaborate on how you are roping in the alumni teachers and students in imparting IE to the current students and parents?
- Meera Singh, talked about measuring happiness and creativity quotient in the students- it would be lovely to learn more about this.
- How your school counselor is working on Indian psychology, Integral Psychology based intervention and research?
- Importance of Adventure camps, Excursions and Field Trips and how to handle problems like possibilities of accidents during the same?
- How to make teachers and students interested in project method of education, so that it’s not completed as a formality, but rather real skill building takes place for most of the students? How to make assessment based of project based methods of learning?
- How correct is this idea that “Anger is not present in the being of a child”? Should this be our purpose to ensure complete omission and avoidance of emotions like anger, fear, jealousy, etc? Or our purpose should be to develop self-awareness in the children to identify and articulate their emotions including Anger and ultimately learning to reject it and surpassing it, instead of suppressing it.
- “Subtraction is reductionist, Addition is progressive” Is this correct thing to teach because this might not be the case most often?
- How can IE, SEL & Value Education be made a part of the main stream subject curriculum in middle school and secondary?
- Lavlesh Bhanot, SAS Chandigarh, raised some very significant questions life- if there is no quest in the teachers & the parents- how to make it a personal journey for the teachers and parents first?
- Whats the role of IE in the light of the Technological Singularity
- What IE has to offer when it comes to handling the problems of present day teens with early maturity rate, great effect of social media, materialistic life style and addictive behaviors?
- How can we explore the use of the combination of Psychology, Life Skills and IE?
- How to take IE online?
- Chinmayie Pawan from Auro Mira, talked about including various aspects of Psychology in the methodologies and Psychological Training for the teachers, would you like to elaborate upon your methodology for it? Are their psychologists on board?
Strategies & Recommendations to be Explored in Detail
- Making a shift towards Inclusive Education and creating sensitization, orientations; breaking the stigma and providing equal opportunity to all.
- R. Sharadamba, talked about the importance of tracking problematic behavior, and academic skills in the child and providing early interventions like special education, counseling
- The need for documentation, working on individual students, recording the progress, and feedback.
- Life skills training, and workshops for psycho-education (vital-management) like Self-Awareness, Psychological Need, Creative Needs, Emotional Awareness, etc.
- Ensuring Physical and Mental Health of the Teachers and the Staff
- Psychological Training for the teachers
- Day Care service
- How to make teachers actively engage in IE & expand their level of Consciousness?
- Ensuring quality time spent by the teachers with the students (specially middle school and secondary)
- Making children aware about duties and rights as a responsible citizen
- Interdisciplinary learning for e.g. Music+ Art+ Math.
- 18 guide books published for Lesson planning. & Value.Education. (class 1-8, 20 activities per class)
- Well-structured Teachers Training, Regular Orientation and Mandatory Teachers Manual
- Ongoing workshops throughout the year, for staff and administrators
- Reality checks on how much are we living what we are showcasing on our websites and public presence.
- Teachers to be free to create their innovative LP & Methodologies, while Children need to be free to put the ideas of their teachers down and propose their own ideas. They should be also allowed to choose alternative response faculty.
- Aha School, Auroville (Arati, Deven, Shaaline) research work done in the area of Body activity based experiments
- Sustainability based education- waste management, water management, clean energy use.
- Hardik Kakkad from Neevam Amravati shared Extensive Feedback filled by the parents for each and every child.
- He also talked about having a dedicated Research team for carrying forward long term research projects related to the application of IE, it would be nice to learn more about it.
- Developing a culture to celebrate birthdays – as the best time to remind oneself of his maturity level & what roles he needs to play hence forth and what are the areas he need to contribute in the world out there.
- Working with fresher-s so that they are easily trainable.
- Role of the teachers as being the spokesperson of IE for the parents.
- Imparting authentic ancient Indian knowledge to the students through Bhagwad Gita, etc.
- Conducting youth camps is a great idea in the school.
Karmayoga in the World Today
In the current day, when we spend most of our time in engagement with the material world either by choice or by chance, where there are ocean of opportunities, but not an ounce of satisfaction, is there a way to make this work life meaningful, is there a way to transform ourselves through work? These are some of the major perspectives explored through 15 days of karma yoga sessions. The session started from 17th October 2020 and ended on 31st October 2020. Every day for an hour from 10.00 am to 11.00am IST, Karma Yoga Sessions reached the door step of all the registered aspirants through zoom virtual webinars. Participants from across the globe had participated in the sessions. Everyday a different facilitator shared different perspectives on Karma Yoga. With 15 different topics and 15 different facilitators, the program became very holistic addressing Karma yoga in many possible dimensions. Every session used to start with the Invocation by Dr. Sampadananda Mishra, the speakers were introduced to the participants by Mrs Deepa followed with the discourse by facilitators and the gist of the sessions were shared by James Anderson at the end before question and answer session.
Sessions started with the understanding of love towards work and ended with the excellence in work. The journey in between shed the light on understanding the dynamics of consciousness at work, the role of our attitude towards the people and work, right actions, surrender, balancing between the individual aspiration & the society, actions through decisions and practical ways to make simplest of actions to ripe profound bliss in us. Sessions deeply touched upon how to transform work to worship no matter where one stand, one may work for livelihood, or passion or as a service or as a social responsibility, how every kind of work and every action we do can be transformed and offered to the divine.
The sessions were mostly practical and interactive with the participants sharing their inputs through chats and panellists discussing them in the group and with the facilitators. The recordings of the sessions were made available to all the participants soon after the sessions every day. Participants were also encouraged to discuss and interact with the facilitators even after the sessions through WhatsApp group to get more clarity on the topics discussed. At the end of the program feedback was collected from the participants to cater the needs better in the future.
Participants shared that most of the sessions were meditative kind. They also shared that the design of the program helped them to dive deeper into the practise of Karma yoga, as after every session they were getting back to their work and they could relate and reflect more. They also expressed gratitude to all the facilitators and shared their willingness to participate in similar programs/sessions in coming days.
Here are feedback from few participants:
– All of them dwelt with different aspects of KARMAYOGA. The sessions were excellent.
– All sessions are beautiful especially Decision making, yogah karmasu kaushalam, work as worship, meditation by james, karmayoga for children.
– It was perfect
– The courses conducted are excellent however, the sound audio and sound quality needs to be a little better. Suggest that the speakers keep their mircophone nearer to them while speaking so that the softness in their voices are more audible. Other than that, the course/sessions were Exemplarily Excellent.
Sri Aurobindo – The Kavi: Exploring Sri Aurobindo’s Vision of Poet, Poetry, Poetics and Poetic Criticism
The second webinar of the 12-part webinar series being organised as part of celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo was conducted on the 30th and 31st of October. The topic was ‘Sri Aurobindo – The Kavi (Exploring Sri Aurobindo’s vision on poets, poetry, poetics and poetic criticism). The event was presided over by Dr. R.Y Deshpande (Scientist, Author, Researcher, Poet and ardent devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The mother). The event had a keynote speech session by Professor Goutam Ghosal (Department of English, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan) followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Ramaswami Subramony (Associate professor and head of English at the Madura college) and Dr. Debapriya Goswami (Assistant professor of English at the centre for language and communication, NSHM) as panellists and moderated by Dr Sarani Ghosal Mondal (Associate professor and head of English at National institute of technology, Goa). The webinar focused on the importance of looking at Sri Aurobindo’s entire literary work to understand Sri Aurobindo, the poet. The keynote gave a glimpse into Sri Aurobindo’s poetry vs his contemporaries highlighting that Sri Aurobindo wrote from his experience and that there was something that was supporting him beyond intellect and language.
The panel discussion highlighted how Sri Aurobindo was dismissed and not accepted as a poet though 8 of the 36 volumes of his complete works consists of poetry and that there is hence a need for this to be corrected and also that Sri Aurobindo’s poetry is not just to be taken across the world but also within us.