Teaching children ‘to be’

Anna George

Schools, by virtue of their role in community and social development, are extremely suited to contribute to a child’s value system. The major paradigm shift brought in by NCF 2005, from a behaviourist approach to learning to a constructivist approach laid stress on the personal experiences of the learner in the process of knowledge construction and emphasized on ‘education for peace’ not as a part of value education, but as an independent value in itself. To develop a culture of peace, the pedagogy of education needs to be broad, diverse and oriented towards lifelong learning. This transfer in concept was instituted to develop a more mature and self-directed learner, a pre-requisite for living together.

Amalgamation is the ideal pedagogic strategy for education for peace, especially since peace is an all-embracing concept. The integrated approach has an edge over the “separate subject approach” from the psychological, motivational, and pedagogical points of view. The principles underlying the concept of Inclusive Education are integral to achieving equity in education… The NCF (2005) strongly recommends, “The curriculum must enable children to find their voices, nurture their curiosity to do things, to ask questions, and to pursue investigations, sharing and integrating their experiences with school knowledge rather than their ability to reproduce external knowledge”. It motivates schools to “provide opportunities to students to question, enquire, debate, reflect, and arrive at concepts to create new ideas.” This in turn removes apprehensions, mistrust, and doubts about others and encourages living together. Active listening, critical thinking, problem-solving, and conflict resolution are the skills emphasized in the context of education for peace promoted in NCF – 2005. These skills help in inculcating the feeling of living together and provide the opportunity for promoting peace. “The values of equality, social justice, and respect for diversity, as well as of the dignity and rights of children” became the corner stones of the school education system.

A culture of peace reflects an active, positive, participatory process where diversity is respected, differences are tolerated, dialogue is encouraged, and conflicts solved in a spirit of mutual understanding and co-operation. It’s a process that grows out of the beliefs and actions of people and develops differently in each context, and region, depending on their traditions, cultures, and religion. Therefore, a culture of peace is by necessity a long-term, multi-dimensional process, a process of transformation of values, attitudes, behaviours, and ways of life in favour of peaceful living together in an increasingly interdependent world.

The eight guiding principles that give direction to teaching and learning for peace are used as markers in the improved curriculum. Skills development is a crucial element since the methodology favoured is a cyclical inquiry model of reflection, choice, and action. The end products are readied to embrace their responsibility for building a more harmonious, just, and peaceful world.

peace Significantly, in the new curriculum, equal importance has been given to both scholastic and co-scholastic areas. Work education, art education, and physical education form an integral component. Work education promotes self-reliance in meeting one’s daily needs, those of the family and community. Art education enhances a wholesome development of the learner’s personality. It encourages the young learner to develop creative expression, to explore various means of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, to sharpen senses and to develop a keen observation power and in the process to imbibe a sense of organization and order. They get a taste of aesthetic, cultural, folk, and social heritage of the community and nation. Health and physical education provides learners with the foundation for practising healthy living involving physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being.

Life skills are a set of skills used as practical application of one’s value in real life. Introducing and enhancing emotional skills, thinking skills, communication skills, and social skills at school level contribute to the development of the student as a better human being. It builds in students ways to find creative solutions to conflict and to live in harmony with themselves, with others and with the world around them. It helps them to change their attitude, behaviour, and nature of relationships.

The evaluation process too, was amended to be pro-peace and student-friendly and thus emerged the CCE to assess the learners’ holistic growth. Formative and Summative Assessments were planned and implemented. The scholastic area consists of academic work while the co-scholastic area of life skills, attitude, values, and co-curricular activities consisting of art education, work experience, and health and physical education. This system minimized the classification of students on the basis of marks, eliminating unhealthy cut throat competition among achievers, reducing social pressure, providing the learner a better learning environment.

With the basic aim of making learning more interesting for students, specific programmes to train and guide teachers are established… Online training programmes are made available to schools to assist the designing of a wide range of creative activities for the enrichment and extension of learning and prepare assignments that will help students understand concepts better while enhancing logical, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Question banks provided to schools ensure quality and standard across schools. Monitoring checks at school level are defined. Transparency will be the key.

The schematic representation of the Education for Peace framework is meant to educate our students to be Active World Citizens. Education for peace in the Indian context means social justice in education, social cohesion, removing economic inequalities, bridging the rural-urban divide and upholding the ethical foundations of a peaceful society.

In the words of Swami Vivekananda, education is teaching them “to be” and not just “to know”. That is what Systemization of the Peace Curriculum across schools’ aims at.

The author is an independent educational and academic consultant. She is currently engged in peace education and has experience in teacher training. She can be reached at annageorge02@gmail.com.

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