These thoughts on education were put together by a group of concerned local and ex-patriot teachers and educators after the Jan25 Revolution in Egypt:
Currently we cannot truthfully say that the Egyptian education system truly draw forth the vast potentials of its students, nor does it serve the need to create healthy, productive and well adjusted society where people can contribute the best of their unique potentialities and enjoy a reasonable standard of life.
There is an ever increasing gap between a few wealthy and many poor. Communities are suffering under the yoke of profit drain to already wealthy pockets while the environment is becoming more and more polluted. The ordinary citizen does not understand this well-tarnished deadly grip of exploitation and manipulation for profits but suffer due to lack of education, medical care and increasing costs of living.
Children and youth are victims of the onslaught of superficial pseudo-culture which bombards them through mass-media and consumer psychology, confusing their values and creating endless distraction. Parents tired to make ends meet hardly have quality time with their children. Cherished values gradually become eroded by this materialistic way of life and social ills are on the increase.
We need an Education that works with the family to shape the human being to have a strong backbone (character) and be able to make proper decisions in life and have enthusiasm to contribute to the betterment of the community.
We need an Education that aims to build sustainable communities through grass root education and thus empowering people with moral strength to reclaim their living bio- community. Education is designed by the needs and reality of the locality while at the same time carrying the lofty ideals of universal humanity.
Education needs to be based on unchanging universal principles while the method of teaching and the environment are flexible. With such an education the school, staff, parents and children grow and their living standard and culture is continuously upgraded.
Aim of Education:
We aim for the original meanings of the word education (from educare) to “draw forth” the students innate potentials, talents and abilities. We need a reorientation of the concept that a child is a “blank slate” to be spoon fed with information which he/she is supposed to absorb an regurgitate at exam time.
Rather, the teacher views each child as a potential genius, whose inherent knowledge, talents and potentials are awaiting discovery and actualization.
Education balances self-knowledge and self-mastery with empirical knowledge of the world around us. Thus, Education is that which liberates the person from ignorance; that which helps them to attain fulfillment of their potentials and instills love and compassion for all beings, including animals, plants and the environment.
Principles of Education:
- Cultivation of Universal Love – Recognising the deep interconnectedness of all life
- Inner and outer ecology – Environmental awareness and respect for animate and inanimate things derived from this sense of interconnectedness.
- Holistic Development of the Child – developing the physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of the child.
- Cardinal Human Values as an integral part of education
- Knowledge of Self and knowledge of the world, applied benevolently in daily life.
The teachers embody the ideals they teach in their inner and outer lives and thus become the living models of Education. They create the atmosphere and environment in which children thrive. They would ideally consider themselves as a friend and co-worker with the child. They have high integrity, sense of social service and strength of character. They are righteous, unselfish and have an inspiring personality and leadership capacity. They have a loving relationship with the child, observe the child and make decisions. They communicate well with students, parents and staff.
Personal development is the backbone of Education. This includes the skills of self-mastery in good health, emotional well-being, creativity, benevolent intellect, intuition and spirituality.
All academic knowledge is learnt in order to contribute to the development of human civilization and serve the planet in a better way
The curriculum should be created by educators of integrity and must be guarded vigilantly so as to remain free from historical distortion and/or the influence of vested interests, corporate sponsorship and military or political propaganda and agendas. Curriculum may vary according to the needs of geographical regions but should be adjusted with the needs of the Global; society.
The methodology of teaching aims at awakening the thirst for learning and teaching students how to avoid distractions.
Children and Students Learn Best:
- When teachers strive to awaken the child’s innate curiosity and thirst for knowledge. this thirst or interest precedes all true learning.
- Through the current of joy, utilizing all the creative arts
- Making full use of stories, games and play, rhythm, movement and repetition
- Engaging the whole child in active learning. Learning takes place when the student is actively involved in an experience. Whether it be constructing or creating something, manipulating or observing physical objects or researching or interviewing for a project. Simple memorization of facts is the least effective method of learning.
- Through methodical thinking. We need to develop the child’s thinking skills logical thinking, creative thinking, problem-solving.
- Learning needs to be relevant to the ‘real’ world. It should be engaging, relevant, challenging and significant. Learning is integrated with life and applied.
- Transdisciplinary learning- learning isn’t confined within the boundaries of traditional subject areas, but is supported and enriched by them. (People learn better when what is being learned is important to them).
- Individual approaches, recognizing the different types of intelligence choosing the best method suited to each child.
- Inquiry-based learning. Discussion and inquiry by both the student and teacher is actively encouraged. As far as possible, learning should be a journey of mutual discovery.
- Absence of fear. We must move beyond the realm of fear-based learning, recognizing that true learning takes place in a supportive, caring environment that encourages curiosity, wonder and enthusiasm.
- Developmentally appropriate expectations and behavioural guidance
- Libraries in every school- Reading needs to become part of the culture
Culturally Appropriate Learning According to location:
Education needs to be culturally sensitive, considering the social context in the design of the curriculum and the learning process. There is use of local language besides the universal language. Local language is afforded full respect, students should be encouraged to take pride in their cultural identity, and all its benevolent arts and expressions.The school takes on the task of understanding the social needs of the students, their families and their community, and aims to contribute towards meeting those needs and impact the community for the sustainable good of all and their eco-system. The local environment influences the syllabus and makes learning meaningful and practical besides striving for general excellence.
Objectives of Education: These are the desired outcomes for the child (taken from the EDUCATION anagram of Neohumanist Education)
Enlargement of mind – love for continuous learning
Discipline – etiquette, smartness, memory, English, social development, communication, teamwork, self-esteem, confidence
Universal outlook – love for all of creation
Character – values, virtues, moral principles
Active habits – applied learning and service spirit; academic, practical and personal skills
Trustworthiness – reliable, responsible, ecological and social consciousness
Ideation of the Great – practicing spiritual understanding
Omniscient grace – joyful life-long learner with good will and benevolent intellect
Nice temperament – emotional development and balance