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National Symposium on Character Education

On March 23, 2005 the Sathya Sai School of Canada sponsored a National Symposium on Character Education, followed by a Four-Day Workshop presented by Carole Alderman of the British Institute of Sathya Sai Education in which nearly 100 teachers and community workers participated. The Workshop and Symposium were well received with teachers showing interest in the school’s integration of values in the curriculum as the following media report indicates:

 Education through the values lens

Ontario curriculum has scope for character education.

 It is possible to successfully meet the expectations of the Ontario curriculum from a values perspective, claims the Sathya Sai School of Canada. There is clear scope for integrating universal human values within the curriculum, they say. Educators, policy makers, school trustees from various boards across GTA, city councilors and parents attended the National Symposium on Character Education last night at Brampton. They learned about a pioneering approach used by a group of educators who have successfully implemented a Values Education Program within the Ministry of Education’s curriculum in Ontario.

 

The event was sponsored by a unique private school in Scarborough, the Sathya Sai School of Canada, which specializes in delivering a character education program within the Ontario curriculum. A balance between academic excellence and character education complete the successful education model that the school offers, free of cost.

Founded by Sathya Sai Baba, a humanist and an educator who lives in India, the school is currently in its fifth year of successfully delivering the Ontario curriculum from a values perspective, based on its Founder Sathya Sai Baba’s philosophy that the End of Education is Character.

Held at the Holiday Inn Select in Brampton, the event brought people from across Canada and the Atlantic to listen to and pose questions to a panel of experts who have implemented their vision to bring out every student’s inherent positive character traits through their programs. The teachers of the Sathya Sai School presented a case for Values Education within the Ontario Curriculum expectations.

T.R. Pillay, Principal, Sathya Sai School, the host of the first ever National Symposium on Character Education, recalled the decadence in student morality and character he witnessed in his years as an educator and Vice-Principal in Edmonton for over 4 decades. Highly inspired by Sathya Sai Baba’s Education in Human Values Program, he relocated to Toronto in the year 2000 to fulfil the vision of balancing values education within the Ontario curriculum, thereby creating history. Today the Sathya Sai School of Canada is the only school in North America that successfully integrates universal values of Truth, Peace, Love, Right Conduct and Non-violence within the Ontario academic curriculum.

Carole Alderman, Director of the British Institute of Sathya Sai Education shared her vision and experiences in successfully implementing the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values program in Britain ’s public school system. Alderman trains teachers from various school boards on how they can bring out the universal values, inherent in human nature through their classroom activities and lesson plans. She is the author of various teaching literature for use by teachers as resource materials. She screened a short film on the program in action in Britain and the positive impact it is bearing upon not only the children who participate in it, but also their parents who are highly pleased with the positive change in their children’s behaviour. The two Sathya Sai Schools in the U.K. are located in Leicester and St. Andrew’s in Scotland.

 
Raising such issues as the spiritual dimension of reality and the need for change in consciousness, Gordon Naylor’s philosophy of inspiring academic excellence within a clear citizenship moral framework struck a chord with the audience. He shared his vision of a well-balanced approach to education. As the Executive Director of the Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute in London, Ontario, Gordon has been instrumental in creating, developing and successfully implementing programs for the holistic education and empowerment of youth and families both in North and South America. For twenty five years, the development of Moral and Ethical Leadership has been the focus of his work. Gordon called for cross cultural understanding to bring out the best in human nature.

Sandra Dean, Executive Director, Together We Light The Way, Durham District School Board, Whitby, Ontario complemented the Sathya Sai School for being the one that is lighting the way with its values education program. A seasoned educator, Principal and now the Executive Director of Together We Light The Way program, Dean talked about her program’s all inclusive approach to create respectful, responsible and resilient citizenship. Her program involves children, their parents, educators … the entire community creating safe and caring learning communities.

Michael Greenwood, Gunjan Sahni and Seema Poddar, teachers of the Sathya Sai School provided the gathering with empirical evidence suggesting scope for values education within the curriculum guidelines. They also gave an experiential lesson in how their school has successfully delivered the Ontario Ministry of Education Curriculum using a values lens. Quoting the report of the Royal Commission on Education, the teachers of the Sathya Sai School made a convincing case to include universal values within any area of learning, such as Physical Education, Social Studies, Math, Language, Art and more. They also presented a complete lesson plan from a values perspective, using a strand from Grade 1 Science curriculum. The Sathya Sai School focuses on each of the five cardinal values of their program, namely Right Conduct, Peace, Love, Non-violence and Truth for two months, from September to June and create an environment where it is cool to be good and virtues.

Professor Yassin Sankar, Professor of Business Administration, Dalhousie University, Halifax and moderator for the evening, captivated the audience with his eloquence, knowledge of ethics and understanding of its relevance to a balanced education. He ended the evening by quoting Sathya Sai Baba who says that the “Ornament of the sky is the moon. The ornaments of the ocean are the waves. The ornaments of the trees are flowers. The ornament of human beings is character.” He reminded everyone how much character matters.

On behalf of the Steering Committee, Surinder Sharma thanked everyone who pitched in to make this successful event take place at no cost. Over 500 people attended the symposium. Registration and participation in the event was free and many city councilors and Trustees from York Region, Peel, Toronto and across Canada expressed great appreciation for the initiative of the Sathya Sai School.

 

- Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 5 Issue 06 - JUNE 2007
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