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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Holistic Approach in Education


Lessons for the Soul





IT is all about sharper mental faculties, reduced stress levels, increased intelligence, clarity, creativity, inner peace, a healthier mind and body, increased self-confidence and self-empowerment. It is not only adults but children as well who need to ‘de-stress’ themselves in this increasingly competitive world, hence most schools are now adopting a holistic approach to education. 


   Nilam Sharma, head (junior programme), Heritage School, Gurgaon, says that learning doesn’t necessarily happen at their Yoga Centre alone, rather is integrated in their classrooms. She elaborates:“A day at our school begins with a 45-minute sports activity followed by a glass of juice. Once students settle down, they meditate for five to 10 minutes listening to shlokas or mantras before they start studying.” 


   An important aspect of yoga is that it helps children learn to control their senses, feels Veena Dhyani, counsellor, Cambridge School, Noida. She says:“It is important for children to learn to control their senses and with yoga, it is found that there is an increased self control among students.” She adds that it also helps in controlling anger, in decision-making and de-stressing. 


   The Planetary Peace Movement Trust, for instance, is actively engaged in introducing meditation in schools, organisations and groups, which can be learnt and practiced in only 15 minutes to accrue a lifetime of benefits.This involves physical exercises, deep abdominal breathing, activating the heart by smiling, releasing excess energy and chanting of Om among other things. Similarly, Superbrain Yoga is a simple three-minute exercise that helps redistribute a body’s energy flow to help supercharge the brain, based on principles of subtle energy and ear acupuncture. 



Pilot studies on the effects of Superbrain Yoga on differently-abled children showed significant increase in academic and behavioural performance, greater class participation and improved social skills. Says Geet Oberoi, founder-director, Orkids:“This is very helpful for special children as it helps increase focus and concentration and consequently, there is an increased attention span, they follow instructions well and complete their tasks in time.” 


A day at Mirambika, situated at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Delhi, begins with an hour of sports activity everyday. Children and their diyas (teachers) are responsible for dusting, mopping, tidying and beautifying their spaces. There is short meditation so that they can connect their inner selves with their outer selves, to set the pace for the day. 


   This is followed by project time which involves a lot of experimenting, searching, calculating, developing, inventing, exploring, creating, reading, writing and so on. Further, training time is devoted to subject-specific learning. Next comes home sessions meant for generating togetherness, openness and trust. The day ends with concentrating and being silent for a few minutes, to go within, integrating experiences of the day. Lastly, they have a glass of juice with snacks before leaving for home. 


   Similarly, at Shikshantar, the curriculum is inspired by an interdisciplinary understanding of philosophy, psychology, human development and education.The school follows the principles of integrated education that enables students to make connections between the development of their physical, emotional, mental, social and inner selves. 


   Likewise, Rishi Valley Education Centre reflects J Krishnamurti’s philosophy of education that aims to educate students in a way that they are able to explore both - the outside world and their inner being. Informs A Kumaraswamy, the principal: “Teachers take special care in sustaining close relationships with children, attempting to keep connected with the growing ‘inner life’ of individuals as well as the changing patterns in peer relationships.”




Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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