Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dalai Lama Supports Holistic Education!

Well, maybe he didn't use those words, but that's pretty much what he said.

Last autumn the Mind & Life Institute, a group of contemplatives, neuroscientists, educators, activists and policy makers who are devoted to promoting "the creation of a contemplative, compassionate, and rigorous experimental and experiential science of the mind which could guide and inform medicine, neuroscience, psychology, education and human development" held a conference in Washington DC. Called "Educating World Citizens for the 21st Century", this gathering included a number of great minds including the Dalai Lama, who led the first panel discussion on educating children to be "compassionate, competent, ethical, and engaged citizens in an increasingly complex and interconnected world".

He said that he believes that rigorous academic preparation is critical, but our educational system is too focused on this aspect of teaching children. Once we have knowledge, he said, the question becomes one of using that knowledge - will we use it in a way that is constructive, neutral, or destructive? Obviously we would come down on the side of "constructive", but there is certainly a difference of opinion as to what exactly that means.

And that is what Holistic Education is about. We look to give children knowledge and a rich and diverse academic background, but we also recognize that to focus on that aspect of their beings at the exclusion of all else is to do them, and the entire world, a disservice. We also ask children (and the adults who live and work with them) to consider the bigger picture, to look at and understand themselves and their place in the community, the environment, and the "global neighborhood". We want them to think carefully about the responsibility that comes with being human, and how they can use their knowledge in constructive ways - constructive to their own sense of well-being and happiness as well as constructive to the world at large.


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