Shanti Ananda

The Nature Concept School

English

Shanti Ananda Newsletter 2/2008

Focus of this newsletter is our kinder garden. The teachers, our advisor and I thought together how to improve the quality. We came to the result to take all our energy to get inspired by good examples, to learn new connections and habits and to practice in the daily school life – with the aim to receive a very good child oriented kinder garden. Regularly I come to the school to observe the education in the LKG (Lower kinder garden) and the UKG (Upper kinder garden) and to give ad- vice; our teachers’ workshop in March was also focused on the subject “How to improve the quality in the kinder garden”. The photos show some impressions:

Training of the writing skills with wooden blocks

 

The children train animals’ voices

Playing with Puzzles

Exercises for the development of the senses

in the kinder garden workshop

Essentials of our kinder garden education:

We start every day with a circle!

We let the children practice a lot of movements!

We work with all the senses!

We use play way methods!

We respect the individuality of every child!

Sheila Swift, multiplicator of the „Education in Human Values“,
donates hand puppets in the kinder garden workshop

In the following lines I want to present some thoughts of Swamy Vivekananda (1863 – 1902) concerning to education. Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi are the two great symbol figures of India. Although Vivekananda is no more on our earth for more than 100 years his words did not lose their actuality.

 

Vivekananda was born in Calcutta on January 12th 1863. He devoted his life to working for social reforms such as eliminating child marriage and illiteracy and encouraging care of the poor and the sick. Also it was his patriotic zeal and elo- quence which made the Western world aware of India’s great spiritual and cultural heritage. In 1893, he won thunderous applause at the world Parliament of Reli- gions in Chicago with his very first words, “Sisters and Brothers of America”, and boldly proclaimed that religions were not meant to spread hate and discord but to foster love and brotherhood.

The Ramakrishna Mission founded by Vivekananda in Calcutta after his return from America, carries out educational and charitable work throughout India and has branches in Asia, Europe and the United States. Belur Math, eight kilometers from Calcutta, is the international headquarter of the Ramakrishna Mission. Its ar- chitecture represents a church, a mosque and a temple when viewed from differ- ent angles.

India celebrates National Youth Day on January 12th every year, on the occasion of Vivekananda’s Jayanti.

Here are some statements of Swamy Vivekananda:

What we say a man ‚knows’, should, in strict psychological language, be what he ‚discovers’ or ‚unveils’; what a man ‚learns’ is really what he ‚discovers’, by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.

We say Newton discovered gravitation. Was it sitting anywhere in a corner waiting for him? It was in his own mind; the time came and he found it out. All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in your own mind. The external world is simply the suggestion, the occasion, which sets you to study your own mind, but the object of your study is al- ways your own mind. The falling of an apple gave the suggestion to Newton, and he studied his own mind. He rearranged all the previous links of thought in his mind and discovered a new link among them, which we call the law of gravitation.

All knowledge, therefore, secular or spiritual,is in the human mind. In many cases it is not discovered, but remains covered, and when the covering is being slowly taken off, we say, ‚We are learning’, and the advance of knowledge is made by the advance of this process of uncovering. The man from whom this veil is being lifted is the more knowing man, the man upon whom it lies thick is ignorant, and the man from whom it has entirely gone is all-knowing, omniscient. There have been omniscient men, and, I believe, there will be yet; and that there will be myriads of them in the cycles to come.

Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man… Therefore the only duty of the teacher... is to remove all obstructions from the way.

What is education? Is it book-learning? No. Is it diverse knowledge? Not even that. The training by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and become fruitful is called education.

Education is not filling the mind with a lot of facts. Perfecting the instrument and getting complete mastery of my own mind is the ideal of education.

To me the very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collecting of facts. If I had to do my education over again, and had any voice in the matter, I would not study facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration and detachment, and then with a perfect instrument I could collect facts at will. Side by side, in the child, should be developed the power of concentration and detachment.

Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library… If education is identical with information, the libraries are the greatest sages in the world, and encyclopedias are the Rishis.

We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.

The education which dies not help the common mass of people to equip them- selves for the struggle for life, which dies not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion – is it worth the name? Real education is that which enables one to stand on one’s own legs.

What we need,... is to study, independent of foreign control, different branches of the knowledge that is our own, and with it the English language and Western science; we need technical education and all else that may develop industries so that men, instead of seeking for service, may earn enough to provide for themselves, and save something against a rainy day.

How can there be any progress of the country without the spread of education, the dawning of knowledge?... But know for certain that absolutely nothing can be done to improve the state of things, unless there is spread of education first among the women and the masses…”

In February a Bhajan Workshop took part led by Prema. The teachers had the opportunity to be busy with this subject in a deep way. Bhajans, songs for the praise of god, are deeply rooted in the Indian tradition; there are thousands of them. Singing Bhajans is a special spiritual discipline. In the Shanti Ananda School it takes part one time weekly.

Bhajan Workshop

At the end I want to give a report about our parents’ meeting in February. We called the parents to the school to have an impression how they think about the idea to build a new school. Of course this idea is connected with our intensive educational efforts to become a creative school oriented at living skills as well. I wrote in the last newsletter that the teachers would like to start a nature school where the children can learn living skills – similar to the nature schools of the Timbaktu Collective (www.timbaktu.org) we visited in January.

Our parents are very happy with our development and also very motivated to help us with advice and practice. They offered to help us in any concerns. So there is nothing to stand in the way against our further development. We are looking for a fitting property, after that we need some donors. Eventually we found the right property already…

Parents’ Meeting on February 16th

With sincere greetings from South India from

Helga Shanti Fründt

Donation Accounts

Foreigners should give their donation to this FCRA account

Shanti Ananda Education Society

Andhra Bank, Mudigubba Branch

Anantapur District, Andhra Pradesh, India

Account No: 185410100007532

IFSC: ANDB0001854

Indian persons should give their donation to the

Shanti Ananda Education Society

Geetha Nagar, Mudigubba 515511

Andhra Pragathi Grameena Bank

Account No. 19073080607

Shanti Ananda Newsletter 1/2008

This first newsletter of the year 2008 is focused on the prospects of our school. In the last 18 months the elementary needs were fulfilled: Water and electricity were made available, the use of the building was ensured, the rooms were renovated; teaching and instruction materials – not present up to this time - were given as well as dresses and books for the students. The recognition of the government of Andhra Pradesh concerning to the school is also a part of these elementary equipments; we are going to receive it in the very next time.

All the teachers receive daily English coaching; they take part in "summer camps" during the holidays and in workshops concerning to different subjects as well. Further more they took additional responsibilities in the school life like caring for the library which is being structured, the laptop and the new teaching and instruction materials. Education in Human Values, meditation, yoga, painting and drawing, games and handling with the computer became regular contents in our school expressing the education with head, heart and hands which is our endeavor.

Last not least sufficient salaries are also a part of our changes since 2006. I am happy that it is possible to pay fitting salaries to our teachers starting in 2008. Here is a survey on the new salaries:

Name Function Salary in 2008 Salary before

Chandra Mohan

Headmaster

3500 Rupees

2400 Rupees

A. Saraswathi

Correspondent

2700 Rupees

1550 Rupees

Sabitha

Teacher

2600 Rupees

1350 Rupees

Jayalakshmi

Teacher

2500 Rupees

1300 Rupees

M. Saraswathi

Teacher

2500 Rupees

1400 Rupees

Nagaratna

Teacher

2500 Rupees

1250 Rupees

Anasuya

Teacher

2000 Rupees

850 Rupees

Shivamma

Working lady

1000 Rupees

500 Rupees

Venkatesh

Watchman

600 Rupees

500 Rupees

 

As a part of a teacher workshop the teachers painted their "ideal school". Basing on these pictures the group wrote a list of the priorities which is exhibited at the notice board of the school as well as the paintings:

The teachers’ paintings are very different, but they have in common that we need more space! Since December we are trying to find out whether it is possible that the school can extend to the neighbor properties. Two pieces of land are available, but their size is not sufficient; and the second piece of land is in some distance to the school. The prices are also very high because our school is located in the center of Mudigubba. So we came to the opinion that it makes sense to start a new school. We are planning to buy a bigger piece of land at the boarder of Mudigubba and to build new buildings. Of course we need the help of some donors to realize this vision!

The visit of two "Nature Schools" strengthened this point of view. The Timbaktu Collective in Anantapur District, Andhra Pradesh (www.timbaktu.org) built up child like and organically structured schools: seven schools in Anantapur District. All the teachers of the Shanti Ananda School visited two of these schools and are fascinated and enchanted of them.

Headmaster Chandra Mohan in front of a building of the Nature School

Headmaster Chandra Mohan in front of a building of the Nature School

In the Nature Schools the students are only in the morning busy with the traditional subjects generally defined as “education”. In the afternoons they learn weaving, handling electricity and agriculture, stitching, cooking etc. On the big and also very attractive area of the first “Nature School” one small house was built up by the students themselves – one example for the ability of the students to practice “living skills”.

The problem of most of the schools in this country and also at other places is that children with practical oriented talents are very disadvantaged; they have to sup- press their abilities in favor of theoretic and often boring teachings. Many of these children resign, fall into apathy and are no longer able to learn anything. That means in the consequence that they learn nothing because they are not able to learn the traditional skills useful for the life as well. They don’t have the time and the opportunity to do anything else because of the strict timetable of many schools (in the daytime “education” and in the evening “tuition”). Their future fate probably will be poverty. The Nature Schools took this need and concreted wonderful schools finding the full acceptance of the teachers of the Shanti Ananda School. The students of these schools are intelligent and cheerful and seem to be able to master their lives. They are able to handle the “normal” subjects as well as to work in a team; they are self confident and creative.

View to the school area and a learning group

At the second „Nature School“ a „Children’s Center“ is located. Children coming from other schools and from the village can use it as well as the students of this school. They can borrow books from the voluminous library and also take part in courses „How to handle a computer“ or learn how to stitch, to do embroidery and other handicrafts. A big range of products made by children invites the visitors to buy some items for taking home as key holders, toys, dresses, jewelries etc. The children learn many techniques of handicrafts they can always rely on. Further more the school receives funds by selling these products.

On the next photo groups of children can be seen producing notice boards, cro- cheting and painting. All the walls of this big group room are painted by children only. They prepare food, are busy in the agriculture; they are busy with everything useful in the practical life: "Non scholae, sed vitae discimus “ (We don’t learn for the school, but for the life)!

Group room in the Nature School

On February 15th a parents’ meeting is planned in the Shanti Ananda School con- cerning to the future vision and our prospects. All the teachers are very inspired by the visit of the “Nature School” and want our school develop into a similar di- rection. But we need the support of our parents to be able to do this. So it is very necessary to convince our parents – most of them are very simple persons – of the need of such an education.

Our "Kinder garden“ – up to this time it is not really one – is in the focus of our awareness as well. Our endeavor is to integrate more childlike sense oriented and movement oriented elements into the daily structure. At least the children play with artificial clay twice a week; and a big box with wooden blocks made by a carpenter in Puttaparthy is used daily; some puzzles and construction games complete our offer still very modest. In the next teacher workshops the main matter will be how to improve the quality of the kinder garden. "Small children need a lot of sense experience for their personal development. They smell, taste, feel, see and hear to get known of themselves as well as of their surroundings… They can play the same game ten times, twenty times or one hundred times without feeling bored. Their playing is not simply a time pass but it is necessary for them to ac- quire new skills and abilities. Every child wants to develop itself and trains a special action as long as it is able to do it in a sufficient way… All the children want to develop themselves. But not every child is able to control the steps of its development. Some children have some problems, they need more time or more support.“ (Y. Ellneby: Die Entwicklung der Sinne – Wahrnehmungsförderung im Kindergarten, S. 7).

Small children playing with the wooden blocks

Our students accepted the medium of the "drama“ or theatre play as their own medium also in their free time. Every time when I come to the school they perform some dances, songs and small theatre scenes. They like very much to present themselves in this creative way:

With sincere greetings from South India,
Helga Shanti Fründt

 

Donation Accounts

Foreigners should give their donation to this FCRA account

Shanti Ananda Education Society

Andhra Bank, Mudigubba Branch

Anantapur District, Andhra Pradesh, India

Account No: 185410100007532

IFSC: ANDB0001854

Indian persons should give their donation to the

Shanti Ananda Education Society

Geetha Nagar, Mudigubba 515511

Andhra Pragathi Grameena Bank

Account No. 19073080607

Shanti Ananda Newsletter November 2007

This newsletter concentrates on "Creativity".

Nowadays this subject is discussed with passionate enthusiasm in the world of education as shown by the headline in the "Hindu" from October 22nd 2007. Step by step the public and the teachers begin to understand that creativity practiced in the daily life of school has many advantages: the students have more joy and fun with learning, they learn more quickly, they are more self confident etc. One striking exercise found by scientists in Germany: the students are able to get the knowledge needed for the baccalaureate in only eleven months when they are al- lowed to design their personal way of learning. In the normal school they need nine years! I am very convinced that the mankind has the knowledge and as well the skills for solving all our problems in a deep and including way when our crea- tivity is allowed to come out. Our children are our future – we should give the chance to them to create it in a creative way!

This way of thinking is new in Andhra Pradesh; many schools are still very tradi- tional even using the stick as a medium of “education. So it is very important that the teachers can learn how to handle the children in a more inspiring way…

The first "Educational Meeting" –

initiated by the Helping Eagle Foundation, Puttaparthy, for representatives of three primary schools and for people busy with education found part on October 31st at Monika Müller, the patron of the Helping Eagle Foundation. It focused on the sub- ject “Creativity”. All the present persons agreed that education in creativity is very important for the schools nowadays. I was honored by showing my PowerPoint Presentation about creativity prepared for the demonstration to the members of Rotary Club in Bangalore. Here are the main statements:

Creativity is our god given ability to create. We are creators, and the world is our creation.

Nowadays our ability to create is more important than ever before.

Our creativity is supported by an atmosphere of joy, acceptance and love. Fear and pressure are the natural enemies of creativity.

Children expressing their creativity learn better and keep the matters more deep- ly.

They are happier and more self confident caring for others as well.

The participants of the Educational Meetings stated that the education towards creativity has the first priority, not only for the students, but especially for the teachers. Because of this reason workshops about this subject are needed.

 

Teachers of the Sri Shirdi Sai School in Puttaparthy are busy with artificial clay in a work- shop given by me in August 2007.

Chandra Mohan and Nagaratna, both Shanti Ananda School, showed with a spon- taneous theatre play how creativity can be practiced. They gave an idea to the present people how a teaching in Human Values can look like. They performed the "Hasty Rabbit" – a story about the herd instinct and the results – taken as an ex- ample in a teacher workshop given by me in January 2007.

 

Chandra Mohan and Nagaratna performing the drama “The hasty rabbit”

 

The hasty rabbit

It was a windy day. Strong wind blew so hard that there was a "whiz" sound throughout the forest. A rabbit was very frightened. He ran and hid himself in a hole in the trunk of a big tree.

All of a sudden, he heard a big "thud" sound near him. He sprang up and ran through the forest. He started hooting "The sky has given way and fallen down".

On his way he met a deer. The deer asked: "Hey rabbit! Why are you running?" The rabbit answered: "Didn't you hear the sound? The sky has fallen down". The deer too started running.

They both met a zebra. On hearing the matter, the zebra also started running. As the three ran they were joined by a giraffe, a jackal, a fox, a wolf, a deer and many more animals.

A lion heard the noise and came out of his den. He asked: "What is the matter?" All animals said in a chorus: "The sky has fallen down".

The rabbit said: "I saw a portion of the sky falling down". The lion asked: "Can you show me the place?"

The rabbit led all the animals to the tree. There, they found a mango lying. The lion said: "Here is the portion of the sky which has fallen sown". Now, all the ani- mals were ashamed of their immature behaviour.

Herd instinct leads to chaos.

 

Manjunath Reddy is official advisor for the school –

He is the person with the white shirt sitting beside headmaster Chandra Mohan. Manjunath is very talented and engaged for the Shanti Ananda School: he trained the students for the cultural program shown in our school inauguration; he gave good advice concerning the contract with the Surpanch about the using of the school rooms – originally a temple room. Concerning the application of the recog- nition and registration his advice was also very helpful and useful. At this time we are happy to say that the application is completed; we are very sure to receive the recognition as well as the registration at the latest in January 2008 – including the classes 1 to 7 as well as U. K. G. and L. K. G. (Upper Kinder garden and Lower Kinder garden). The M. E. O. (Mandal Education Officer) plans to visit our school in the next two weeks.

The last teacher workshop focused on the subject “paper theatre”. At the end the teachers performed a drama for the students. The photo shows a scene of the training:

 

With many sincere greetings from Puttaparthy,

Helga Shanti Fründt

Donations

Foreigners should give their donation to the

FCRA account:

Shanti Ananda Education Society

Account No.: 185410100007532

IFSC: ANDB0001854

Andhra Bank, Mudigubba Branch

India


German account:


Spendenkonto der Anahata Stiftung fuer Naturschule Mudigubba

Bank für Sozialwirtschaft

Kt-Nr.: 375 1241 124

BLZ: 700 205 00

IBAN: DE72700205003751241124

BIC: BFSWDE33MUE


Indian persons might give their donation to the

General account:

Shanti Ananda Education Society

Account No. 19073080607

Andhra Pragathi Grameena Bank

Mudigubba Branch

India

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