If we can create a culture of non-violence today, beginning with the classroom, we will move towards a better future. There may be many ways to do this, but here are two possible suggestions. Before focusing on people, religions, and different groups, we can begin with plants, insects and animals.
For many years I have been connected to the Waldorf school movement in India. Rudolph Steiner, the inspiration behind Waldorf schools, speaks of education as a ‘social, cultural deed’. The expression of any culture is reflected in its art forms – music, speech and drama, the visual arts of painting, drawing and sculpture – these art forms serve to capture the essence of a culture – whether it is a legacy of religion history or the geographic aspects of life.
What is culture? Culture can mean many different things to different people. To clarify my own mind, I imagined I was trying to describe the ‘culture’ (how we are, our way of life) of my own country to a foreigner.
Monday morning 8 a.m: As I walk towards WCS, a charter school in Philadelphia, Pennslyvania, USA, I see the friendly face of the school leader standing at the gate and shaking hands with every student as they enter and wishing them good morning.
As I sit down to write this, we are in the midst of a social media storm, which started with a #MeToo campaign, that sought testimonies from survivors across the globe, in order to establish the ubiquity of sexual harassment and rape.
‘Culture’ is a word which means so many different things; it can mean ‘values’, ‘beliefs’, ‘habits’, ‘conventions’. It can mean the bedrock on which a society is founded, the often unwritten ‘rules’ we live by, the lens through which a country sees itself, the collective will of a particular people…
Many of you who read the title of this article will probably wonder what the link is between these three phrases. “Write an essay / a paragraph on ‘how you spent your birthday’ / ‘your first train journey’ / how you spent your vacation’ are the three most common topics that we use in our English composition classes.
The school as we know it today is a structured way of learning about the world, in which many of our traditional ways of life and cultural values, particularly those that carry a stamp of religion, are sidelined. India is a secular country, the word secular here implying rising above religion rather than a lack of religiousness.
Chintan Girish Modi
My biggest grouse with most education conferences in India is the relative or complete absence of children from these spaces. Adults with a string of degrees to their name or years of teaching experience under their belt get together and discuss the finer points of curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and school administration without inviting any insights from children, knowing that they would be unemployed if the children weren’t there.
Culture is identity. It represents immersion in social and ethical values that a society embraces, practices and cherishes. It has an emotional impact on people, many of whom fight hardships to preserve it against what they perceive as corruption or attempts at annihilation by outside forces.