During the preliminary discussions held between Integral Education administration of Auro University (AU) and the team of Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Integral Education and Research (SAFIER), Sri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry, it emerged that Integral Education (IE) can be best introduced into an educational space, not through academic set-up alone but through those who are practitioners of Integral Education. A theoretical understanding and familiarity can only be a beginning; this has to be followed up with a set of IE practices, leading to the beginning of one’s inner transformation. As the Mother, the founder of Integral Education, puts it, the first thing is “to educate oneself, to become conscious and master of oneself…”. By bringing such aspirants together, we need to create a team of individuals who can create an atmosphere of IE together, where further integration of IE into work-space, study-areas and collective life can be attempted.
To this end, a five-month long intensive, online engagement project was conceived to be rolled out in three phases, involving select faculty of Auro University and facilitators from SAFIER. The core text for the entire Course is ‘Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Education’.
Course Facilitators: Shivakumar, Priti and Srinivas Mulugu from SAFIER, Sri Aurobindo Society
For a course of this nature which involves the participants to be practitioners, it was important that the participation be made voluntary. Therefore, a brief outline of the AU-IEI Course was circulated among the faculty of Auro University, and the faculty were invited to participate of their own choice. As a result, nine faculty from different departments of Auro University became the participants for this course.
Design and Roll out of the course:
Phase I: Preliminary Individual Interactions:
Timeline: 17th July - 24th August 2021
To initiate a personal connection, to assess the participants’ previous exposure to IE, to relate the participants to existing ideas of ‘inspired education through inspired teachers’ and to create an awareness of the time commitment needed for this Course.
Based on the interactions and observations during this Phase, it was decided to introduce IE right from its basics where more emphasis will be laid on grasping its principles & approach through several personalised practices.
Phase II: Principles and Practices of Integral Education:
Timeline: 1st Sept 2021 - 22nd October 2021
To initiate both an understanding of Integral Education in theory and, more importantly, an internalising of its principles through sincere and methodical daily practices. The core text for the entire Course, ‘Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Education’, was to be introduced.
The participants absorbed the principles and concepts of IE by gaining mental clarity about them and delving into practices given during the sessions. As the sessions proceeded, a need was felt to increase the number of sessions to move at a pace and depth suitable for this particular group, and subsequently, the number of sessions were increased for this phase. At the end, all participants unanimously expressed that for IE practices to be introduced in the classroom, first they have to internalise these principles within themselves; they cannot become IE facilitators in the classroom without first becoming IE practitioners.
Phase III: In-Class Implementation of Integral Education:
Timeline: 25th Oct 2021 - 7th Dec 2021
This phase was planned to take place over two parallel tracks: one track would continue to focus on the Inner Development through IE practices which began in Phase II and the second track would be to apply the learnings of IE and develop an IE-based curriculum for select subjects on an experimental basis.
For the first track, observation and concentration practices were initiated to deepen the inner development of the participants and introduce them to the power of the faculties of the mind.
For the second track, three faculty, as the main leads and three streams (Human Resources, Psychology and Mathematics were the chosen streams), were chosen to focus on their respective subjects, along with the sub-group of faculty, for the in-class implementation. They were further guided with the help of reflective questions to come up with lesson plans using the IE approach, and make their classroom experience as experiential as possible. After implementing their modified lesson plans in the classroom and simultaneously working on their inner environment, the participants observed that they had emerged as more conscious facilitators and that their classrooms also turned into a participative learning environment.
The objective of this AU-IE Intensive Course was to introduce the principles and approach of IE to a select group of faculty of Auro University, to guide them to internalise these through a series of personalised practices, and then to help them begin the process of in-class implementation in the Auro University.
A beginning has taken place to establish an Integral education environment in select departments of Auro University and the commitment shown by the faculty in undertaking the practices and maintaining a regularity, in spite of several pressing personal and professional engagements over a four and half month period, was an important highlight of this course.
Some Feedback by the Participants:
At the end of this five-month interaction, the participating faculty of Auro University was asked to provide feedback on these sessions. In the concluding session, the group gave their feedback of the entire course through an online Feedback Form and also freely shared their experiences verbally.
All participants agreed that IE practices are to be applied with oneself before taking them to the classroom, they would highly recommend this course for other colleagues and all of them were looking forward to having an advanced level physical interaction with the SAFIER facilitators from Puducherry.
Here is the feedback by some of the participants:
The sessions that impacted the most:
The session on body mapping helped me to become more aware of bodily sensations and the importance of 'listening' to your body. The session on inner reflection as part of assessing yourself as a teacher awakened in me the importance of self-evaluation.
— Dr Priya Rajkumar - School of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
The deeper understanding about physical, mental, vital and Psychic affected me the most. This understanding will help me remain calm even in extreme situations. I personally experienced calmness in various triggering situations recently.
— Dr Neha Bhatnagar - School of Sciences
The theme covered on "Physical Awareness" impacted me the most. Because for some time, I was feeling the need to develop/leave certain habits related to the physical being but not getting any guidance to do so. The session helped me to know from where to begin and how to proceed.
— Dr Shilpi Sharma - School of Law
The key learnings absorbed during the AU-IEI course
Before the IE sessions, I was reading Mandukya Upanishad and Ashtavakra Gita. I could relate some aspects in common with our sessions. The key learning had been the realisation that you have to get engaged as self-awareness, personally, experientially to work towards developing a science of living for oneself. External sources just work as knowledge givers. So, in this quest for 'Know oneself' and 'Master oneself' the content has to be derived from within. Self-preparation as one would call it, and then take on the role of an IE facilitator.
— Avinash Engineer - School of Design
I have just started the journey. I will not claim that I have learned or I have absorbed. I will take time to understand and day to day practice in my life. But surely, I can say this course has helped me a lot to concentrate and the true meaning of the education process,That nothing can be taught. Earlier I used to define myself as a teacher - I mean I teach the students. This course taught me that ...Nothing can be taught. You can only be a facilitator.
— Vishwas Deokar - School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Ability to connect with others through the power of love is key to inspiration.
Role of a teacher is to help students to discover their potential.
Teacher cannot inspire students until teacher starts practicing values.
The source of values is within you called Psychic.
— Dr. Vikrant Makhija - School of business