Children & soulful schools

Children & soulful schools

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar karachi Saturday, September 13——-September 19, 2008

By Tika Khan
Since the dawn of civilization, teaching-learning models have been ever changing and so the meaning and theme of word ‘education’. During the prehistoric times, the meaning of word ‘education’ meant for variable and ever changing values in different cultures and societies. Before the formal design of education, it was supposed to guide people in their learning of culture, molding behavior and directing towards their eventual role as adulthood in the society. It is therefore, the term education can be applied very narrowly to enculturation i.e. the process of cultural transmission. In a state of society illustrated above does not include any curriculum and specialized subjects but only consisted upon a set of cultural values, myths, rituals, religion and a very limited known skills and societal behavior of the respective tribe. However, Greek timeline shows a formal educational practice and an advanced level of teaching-learning process.
During the Muslim rise from seventh to 15th century, Muslims rapidly advanced to a great extent in the oriental, Greek, Roman and the Latin scholarship. They established renowned libraries and centers of wisdom and knowledge, which became major centers of advanced scholarship in a diverse spectrum of fields like art and architecture, al-Jebra and Geometry, medicine and alchemy. Scholarship trend in Muslim lands stimulated and activating dormant non-Muslim civilizations and guided them in the new era of professionalized education, known as humanism. Like Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Sir Francis Bacon of England criticized the teachers of his day, saying that they offer nothing but words and therefore the schools were narrow in thought and demanded that schools should be scientific workplaces in the service of life based on logic and reason.
Rousseau, an enlightened thinker introduced a new idea in education known to be ‘naturalism’. He comes up with new concepts of “Natural Man” (man as formed by nature) and “Social Man” (man as shaped by society). He argued and emphasized that good education should develop nature of man in its ‘pure state of nature’ but the creation of artificial and synthetic environment caused man to become ‘less pure, more artificial and egoistic and man’s egoistic nature prevents him from regaining the simplicity of original human nature.
Emile, a major contributor in the field of education also emphasized on careful and sensitive natural treatment, not through the words of a tutor but through experience from the natural open book of world so that the child could be able to do naturally what is needed in any situation. This concept of natural man has influenced the contemporary thinkers to apply at a mass level as one can see there in Canada, John P. Miller, a professor of education is heading a project called “Soulful Education”. Miller is hired by the Ministry of Education-Canada to restructure the synthetic and artificial school environment into a ‘soulful schools’, the curriculum into a ‘soulful curriculum’ and teachers into ‘soulful teachers’ and finally to develop “soulful children”.
As in one of his lectures to an international group of ‘professional teacher educators’ gathered in Canada he shared his ideas about this new concept of ‘soulful education’ where he said that the research on violent behavior in students shows that our curriculum, the school environment and the interaction of tutor or teacher may have deficiencies and un-soulful. Among several factors effecting child non-naturally could be addressed through the concept of ‘soulful education’ as the concept emphasize on both spiritual and material needs of a child. Since its formative period, child must be given a balanced approach between spiritual and temporal domains of child keeping a careful eye on its spiritual nourishment and healing. Child must not be encaged in a totally synthetic environment which influences the young soul negatively as soul is the only energy, which gives the direction, sense of truth and peace of mind.
As he quoted an experiment, designed on the soulful lines, school and the school environment in some of the schools in Japan has remarkable results and changes in the process of teaching learning where children meditate during their classes and children closely interact with animals and plants. Before the end of this discussion, our own policy makers should think of ever changing educational world to benefit our young souls to empower with “soulful education


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