New Delhi, India (PressExposure) January 18, 2012 -- Shruti Foundation's IInd WE ASC World Education Culture Congress envisioned by Lady Shruti Rana and organised in partnership with Indian Council for Cultural Relations was inaugurated by Kumari Selja, Minister for Culture, Housing and Poverty Alleviation and presided over by Dr Karan Singh, President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
Mr S.K. Misra, Chairman- Shruti Foundation enthusiastically welcomed the delegates and students and spoke briefly about the objectives of the foundation and the Congress.
Lady Shruti Rana, in her introduction to the Congress laid out the dimensions to the congress, and reiterated that the theme - Revisiting Education Culture for Organic Progress with a special focus on Natural Knowledge and New Experiments, adopted the following approach:
1) Transforming and developing the educator's psychology and pedagogical approach through a radically different paradigm for teacher education with awareness of the different planes and parts of the being and their development, 2) Evaluation and assessment paradigms which facilitate integral or holistic discernment of human development according to holistic ability, rather than left brained intellectual development and testing through written examinations or pre-planned, formative assessment, and most dangerously, 3) the separation and inequity in assessment of scholastic versus co-scholastic disciplines. Lastly Lady Rana deliberated on the need a) to revamp Curriculum content, b) to re-orient approaches to learning and imbibing knowledge, c) to include cultural and traditional knowledge in every subject and discipline and d) to include artistic, cultural and physical development disciplines as mainstream choices rather than co-scholastic or "secondary" subjects.
She reiterated the seminal significance of the three principles of teaching by Sri Aurobindo in this regard - 1) Nothing Can be Taught - hence the essential need for natural ways of making spontaneous and enthusiastic "learning" happen, 2) The Mind Must be Consulted in Its Growth - thus the need for a well-developed teacher to holistically understand the consciousness of the student and guide accordingly, and 3) From the Near to the Far - hence experiencing and learning from one's inner inspirations, one own body as well as one's immediate environment and language, before imposing unfamiliar knowledge, language and abstractions, which detract from the child's natural absorption, assimilation and expression.
Lady Rana further stressed that one must never lose sight of two key issues; soshan - action for personal benefit, versus poshan -nourishment by action for self as well as all universal elements and beings. She also reminded the Congress of two key ideas from the Upanishads, which taught the student the value of Shreyas - actions which contributed to sustainable and long term gain versus Preyas - choices or actions which were for short term pleasure or gratification.
In her inaugural address, the Honorable minister for Culture, Kumari Selja highlighted the importance of the synergy between Indian Culture and the educational process through its philosophies, values and Traditional Knowledge Systems, and its importance in developing a holistic human being. She said, "When we refer to 'natural ways of learning' we mean both the pedagogic methodology as well as the content. We are reminded of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore's efforts to deconstruct the structured rigidity of class-rooms and take the young ones out to a more open, flexible and natural ambience. His aim was to teach amidst the beauty of nature".
Dr Karan Singh, President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations in his presidential remarks spoke of the four pillars of education which he was also instrumental in drafting for UNESCO, which are - Learning to know?, Learning to do, Learning to live together, Learning to be and spoke of their true significance and meaning in the context of the Congress. He stressed on the inculcation of human values and universal understanding in learning through one's cultural knowledge and also spoke about the role of media in ignoring inter-faith and culturally significant events while highlighting negative and sensational events in the media. He congratulated Lady Rana on her dynamic action over many years and her vision for transformation in education, as well as on the intricately woven Congress structure.
Dr. Pitroda expressed dismay over the fact that the best brains today are busy solving the problems of the rich, where the need is to solve problems of the poor. He emphasized on the importance of leading children to do what they want, innovate and allow them to evolve at their own pace where "talent needs to be given opportunity". He said that he has learnt from Gandhi ji the fine art of accepting failure. He was confident about the future of democracy and advised, "Be around your children to love them when they need love, but allow them to grow with their own ideas - that is true education".
Dr Singhvi felt that since Independence, on this issue, there was" government but little governance, vision but little action" and felt the need to "redesign our moral science classes to rescue them from the stereotype jokes that they have become". He stressed on the need to redesign curriculum and make it "interesting, multi-disciplinary, anecdotal and biographical ... to experiment with new ideas and models" including yoga classes and inter-faith jurisprudence as compulsory subjects". He cautioned that a "compulsory subject is not to be taught in an insipid or didactic manner, unleashing tomes of reading material and deadening the entire imbibing process".
The scintillating and unique choreographies, "NAYIKA" by Dr Sonal Mansingh on Day 1 which seamlessly synchronized different classical dance styles to Tagore's musical poetry and "Chirantan" by Tanusree Shankar on Day 3 based on Tagore's music and writings with Narration by Amitabh Bachchan, provided a truly exciting, multisensory, cultural, educational and joyful dimension, mesmerizing the participants of this unique Congress.
Lady Shruti Rana's Integral Education Workshop for international and Indian educators on Day 2, moved fluidly with discussions, demos and experiential sessions, introducing the significant aspects of the learning process through four sessions:
"The Essence of Integral Education"
- The essential three-fold practicalities of training a child
- The elements of education
- The planes and parts of a being
- Being the perfect teacher/parent
Mental Training and Assessment
- How the brain learns - Increasing mental ability
- Sensory methodologies of education and subject teaching- traditional and modern applications
- Handling Formative Assessment
Natural and Cultural Paradigms in Learning
- Learning from Tradition
- Learning from Illiterates
- Curriculum Development and Innovation
Skills for Integral Development
- Self-Management for Teachers, Parents and Students
- Concentration techniques
- Development of Leadership and Life skills
- Towards Integral Living
The IInd WE ASC World Education Culture Congress from January 12-15, 2012 was indeed a very meaningful movement on a significant platform, with endorsements from leaders and decision makers, who applauded the effort, focus and direction of Shruti Foundation and of the impassioned organisers, educators, and last but not the least, of the students and youth volunteers who made the Congress a success.