The national-level Integral Education workshop for this year was organized at the Society House of Sri Aurobindo Society at Puducherry, by the India Council for Integral Education (ICIE, an initiative of Sri Aurobindo Society), from May 10 to 20, 2017, in two parts. The first part of the workshop was attended by 45 enthusiastic learners who came forward to learn about Integral Education and in a way to take forward the mission of Education as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother by generating awareness and sharing the practical approaches for the same. Out of the initial 45 participants, 27 continued their exploration for 3 more days, going a bit deeper into the ways of Integral Education. The participants included many principals, coordinators, teachers and parents of different schools from different parts of the country.
The workshop was divided into different sessions, giving the participants a variety of exposure about different aspects of Integral Education and how learning could be made joyful and creative. The sessions were aimed at developing an experiential understanding first for the teachers so that, with some practice, they can make a beginning of this approach through appropriate environment and activities in their classrooms.
Part I Sessions (May 10-17, 2017)
Unleashing the Child Within
• The series of sessions by Shivakumar Da, Director, ICIE, formed the skeletal system to give the form and space to the other sessions of the workshop. The sessions of Shiv Da mainly covered the theoretical part of Integral Education in a commendable manner through the means of interesting discussions, interactions, sharing of experiences and anecdotes.
• Jasmine Di and Riddhi rejuvenated us through their sessions be it bringing Environmental Awareness or being determined and focused in life, with sessions of Riddhi on morning Nature Walk, Yogic Exercise sessions, Concentration Games and sharing her own life experiences. Sessions on Sense Awareness with Jasmine Di made us alert about our own senses and helping us to tune them through various concentration activities. These activities made all of us much more aware and alert about our senses.
• Shankar Da became the best example to show that child within us never grows up. His collection of unique rhymes for every activity generated a spell of energy in us even when we were dead tired at the end of the day. His playful methods taught us many useful and interesting ways to capture a child’s attention and keep him engaged in class.
• The sessions on Integral Project with Harvinder Di helped the participants to understand the three principles of Integral Education in depth through the collective presentations given by the groups. The session gave us exposure to the project method which could be used in various classes making the child eager to inquire and learn to seek the answers to his questions.
• The session of Awareness taken by Uttama Di focused on bringing awareness of our own being or, to be more precise, our own inner self. Her mode of bringing awareness through the craft session surprised us, as each one of us displayed a variety of thoughts and emotions through the same material that had been provided to us.
• Sushanto Da left no stone unturned in creating awareness about the beauty of Mother Nature whether it was through the session of Nature and various art styles, or the session of studying variety of leaves and then analysing their structure and beauty. The sessions, assisted by Rathi and Sagarika, laid emphasis on developing our observation skills with an artistic touch to it.
• Sessions with Dilip Bhai cast a spell of Mathematics on all of us. His simple tricks for complicated operations of maths left all of us in love with this so-called ‘scary’ subject. Dilip Bhai also shared stories from the Ashram School and also how Sri Aurobindo Ashram came up in Puducherry.
• The session with Dr Arati Sharma left us all with a lot of information as to how right and proper educational system is important for the growth and over all development of the child. Her session ultimately taught us that ‘healthy body and healthy mind are key factors of happy life’.
• Sampad Da told us various interesting facts related to the subject and also to the unknown fact that the Sanskrit Varnamaala (letters of alphabet) was arranged in such a scientific manner that their pronunciation makes us do pranayama automatically. The chanting of Vedic mantras and rhymes in Sanskrit is what enchanted most of us.
• The workshop concluded with Shivakumar Da emphasising on the need to make the change happen, starting with oneself. This was followed by a feedback session and the certificate distribution.
The sessions wouldn’t have been successful without the special touch of Uttam Da and Basudev Da who always took care of our food and technical problems during the presentations and always made us feel at home. Our gratitude also goes to Shruti who silently captured the serious as well as the fun-filled moments of the workshop through her camera. We would also like to thank the staff of Matrikunj for providing us with best possible comfort amidst the wilderness and a special thanks to Baburam Bhai for giving us immense knowledge of herbs and trees grown in Matrikunj. We would also like to thank food providers Ganesh and Sharana (a social developmental centre in Puducherry) for providing us with delicious and healthy food during our stay which gave us opportunity to relish various South Indian delicacies and didn’t make us miss home food even for a single day.
Part II Sessions (May 18–20, 2017)
The Experience Continued…
Twenty-seven of the participants decided to continue their experience of Integral Education in a yet deeper and more comprehensive way, laying more emphasis on collective learning. The sessions flowed more freely into one another, and the interactions among the participants and the facilitators also deepened, creating more openings within each of the participant towards a more spontaneous and deeper way of life itself.
Some feedback from the participants…
“Let this journey be continued for the masses of the Principals and Teachers…”—Jayprakash B. Maurya, Principal
“My mind was all into it. Did not deviate even for a minute.”—Anitha Jose
“An eye-opening workshop. Enjoyed like a child and explored myself!”—Sreya Mitra
“Every concept related with examples was helpful to understand the gist of the sessions; discovering within sessions was an awesome experience. The sessions gave me a chance to understand myself deeply, who I am, what I want to achieve.”—S. Krithika
“Really an eye-opener; enjoyed it, got a lot of ideas to bring in my classroom to make students enjoy their talents”—Gayathri
“Excellent! Amazing! Experienced how care and understanding and unconditional love for children could enlighten us and get expressed through simple actions and gestures. Have workshops more often. And call all of us again & again!”—Nandini Grover