One year has passed, since Covid-19 came and closed many activities. With the break we were forced to take, a much needed time to revitalize and re-think many things became possible. With that same forced break still going on, we have decided to drop some old and take up some new.
First, we wish to thank all the people, who were part of and / or supported us during our journey with autism and special children. It was a memorable one, which taught us a great many important lessons of life, and about ourselves. We dare to say, that some friends may have been made, too. We are proud to say, that we did all we could, and gave our everything for the project. Yet, time has come for us to move on and call it an end, for the time being.
We were presented and unplanned opportunity to put our experiences and Divya Rasa Trust into action again, when Clemice Petter from Theosophical Society contacted us with her vision of a school. We had a talk and understood, that this feels good, and natural continuum to the work. With fresh energy aboard, it also feels a little lighter to take up such a great project again. Without more blabbering, I have posted Clemice's vision of education, and its purpose below. Please enjoy.
Vision of Education
A school is a place where a child comes to learn. The difficulty with modern education is, that we do not really help the children to learn. Instead, we tell them what life is, how one should behave, and, sadly enough, that success is all about how much money one is able to make. In our school the aim is to develop a learning mind. Therefore, success is gained through being able to be open to new, to learn with everything at each moment; therefore, in order to help the child to learn, is to allow space for exploration. Tree that lies dormant within its seed will never develop from a sapling, unless it is given space, air to breathe and water to nourish it. In the same way, a child cannot develop into a healthy human being, if we suffocate her with our opinions, judgements, conclusions and stagnant formulas for life.
A healthy environment is essential for a healthy growth, therefore in our school we work to provide the kind of environment, where the child is allowed to ask questions and most importantly, where she learns to look into the question, instead of hoping for an easy answer. A healthy environment allows self-confidence to grow, and also keeps arrogance away.
A mind that is constantly learning, that does not stop and says “I know” is a learning mind; and to develop such a mind, a child needs space to explore and learn about herself and about the world around her. The aim of our school is to help the child by providing her a physically and emotionally clean space, where she can flower in goodness and where she is allowed to ask questions and encouraged to go into that question without hoping for an easy answer.
To develop the potential that lies dormant in each child and to assist that seed to fulfil its potential, which we do not know what it is; we do not try to direct or mould the child. Instead, we learn about her and help her to identify and understand her innate talent. The precious contribution that each one brings to the whole of humanity is what we aim to protect with the right kind of soil, so to say, which in a school means the right kind of environment and an atmosphere of trust and openness.
There are many challenges awaiting for each one involved in this project, because we are used to think that a child needs to be moulded and to be guided. In our school we are going to help and protect the precious seed that is awaiting to grow and turn into the tree that is design by Nature. This tree can only fulfil its destiny if the right kind of environment is provided. The perfume of the flowers that will blossom from these “trees” are unique and will contribute for a new scent, a human touch in the world.
Each child in the school will learn with each moment. Hence, we cannot come to the school to meet the kids with heavily loaded minds, with prejudices, with conclusions and with formulas for life. We need to unlearn all the accumulated “knowledge” that we have gathered about education in order to be free from it and be open to a new way of education. So, the first and most important aspect in the school, for those running it, is the awareness that we, more than the children, need to be open to learn.
Here it becomes important to understand, what it means to learn and the state of a mind that is constantly learning. The first thing to realize for learning to happen is, that we do not know much, if anything. When we think that we know, the mind closes itself, and becomes unable to learn new. However, when we understand that there is no complete knowledge about anything, then we will be open to learn at each moment, about everything. Another important aspect in learning is the capability to listen. Here it is important that we see the difference between hearing and listening. We may hear but we may be incapable of listen to what is being said.
Our incapacity to listen is our inability to learn, because we only listen, when there is sensitivity and attention. Attention is the key for learning. In our school we will help the children to learn about Nature, listen to the birds, watch the lizards, and play with butterflies and so on. The seed of attention has to be cherished and if we allow the child to explore her natural curiosity she will also develop sensitivity. As a result we will have children able to learn and to respect themselves as well as every living creature that shares this planet with us. With attention, sensitivity, observation skills and focus learned like this the results in the academics will also increase and they will develop human values for life.
The academic subjects have to be given equal attention and cannot be neglected. Therefore, the children need to spend the whole day in the school. In the first year of the school we plan to accommodate fifteen to twenty children from the first grade. We provide them breakfast and lunch, and healthy snacks for morning and afternoon. Before they leave the school, they receive one more nutritious light meal, which can be, for example, a vegetable soup or porridge.
For the second year we plan to open the second grade, as the children will pass to the next stage of their education. subsequently the school will open new grades until the children come to the fifth grade.
After one or two years the school has plans to become a residential school where children will reside with teachers and some of the board members. The school will work as a Gurukul, where children learn about life holistically. They live with people, who care for their well-being. There everyone is responsible for maintaining a harmonious ambience with respect and care for each other and for the place as a whole.
The school will teach the standard academic curriculum, and will offer languages, arts, sports, skills as extra-curricular activities.
An important part of the curriculum is to preserve and teach about the culture and nature, through the wider range, as well as locally specific. Good examples are the plan for teaching sanskrit (the wider context) and learning about the plants as medicine and food in our local environment. Most of the education will be tied to the greater whole like this.
The impact of the school in the community:
The work with the community is important. We cannot live surrounded by people and not be a part of that community itself. Hence, the school will provide a library for public use, where children and non-students, are welcome to study and do homework with the help of volunteers. There will be a program to assist those, who study in other schools to have assistance for their homework in the library.
A free of cost human dispensary will be made available for the community.
The school will look for ways to help and improve the day-to-day of the people living in the surroundings.