This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

(click to enlarge)

Journey of a teacher

Srila Basu

Abstract

This paper is a description of the genesis on the Mirambika Teacher education program. The process of how a teacher evolves during her teacher education programme, how she educates herself with the help of the content and the guidance offered. During the course, the teacher sustains her interest by participating in community living, practicing ‘Science of Living’, understanding and applying the three principles of teaching in her life.

The core idea is to change the nature of the teacher education programme, with an emphasis on the humanist teacher. One who grows and changes and does not use the classroom as a laboratory to experiment the hypotheses drawn from educational theory.

Further the teacher is also a seeker, walking a path of discovery to reach a level so as to be able to receive new things.

It concludes that at the core of Integral education lies in the development of the inner being. Integral education makes the being conscious of itself and gradually manifests itself in its outer nature, mental, vital and physical plane thus helping in the growth of consciousness.

A part of this project consists of extraction from the study undertaken by Mirambika teacher education funded by NCERT.

Introduction

The main purpose of education is to tap and evolve the latent potentialities in the individual in the same way as nature evolves a tree out of a seed. A human being is no longer considered merely as a mental or physical being but an evolving soul growing in consciousness. This consciousness must be helped to grow and widen itself. To help in the growth of consciousness and for progressive unfolding of the mind, education is considered to be the best means because it is through education that effective changes can be brought forth. Again, education itself is not just the training of the mind but integral and harmonious development of the being. The seeds of change have left their mark in the field of teacher education and teaching methods. In the present context we focus on the ‘teacher’ in its entirety with special reference as to how it is making a dent in the rapidly changing values of the society and how it is bringing awareness in the individuals about themselves and the way society needs to progress.

“The world is preparing for a big change. Will you help” – The Mother.

In response to this call the seed of Mirambika was sown in 1981, in Sri Aurobindo Ashram –Delhi Branch which successively grew into an Integral Teacher Education centre following Free Progress learning. From the beginning Mirambika is perceived as a living entity, an embodiment for the growth of consciousness and embraces all those who come in contact with it. It views schools as a place where both teacher and student can progress alike and have the freedom to develop freely. It examines the existing belief and norm practiced in teacher’s education and gives new dimension to the education of the teachers’.

The teacher as an agent of change

In today’s world, perception of teachers and teacher education is permeated with several assumptions. One of them is that, nowadays a teacher is considered to be responsible for changes. Whenever new concepts, ideas are brought in, which need to be incorporated, it is the teachers who are looked upon to initiate the process and act as the harbingers of the change. We have had some great teachers, Socrates, Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo to name a few, who infused in the young soul, the quest for the unknown and helped them to discover, explore new possibilities, and create new things, thus bringing in a change in the thoughts and perception of the student. Other teachers stimulated the mind and urged them to delve within and look at life from that inner poise, inspired them to begin a life altogether different from the one previously lived. They showed what a man could achieve in a favourable condition and that human personalities have far richer potential than is normally reflected. In the recent years, Swami Vivekananda’s life, mission and activities are a perfect example of such teachers. Yet there also were teachers who influenced others by their thoughts and personalities by setting good examples. In Mirambika we have Jasbir Bhaiya, Partho who influenced and inspire many young heart to change their course of action and infused new ideas in them.

Another assumption is in the relationship of the learner and the teacher. A conscientious teacher forges an inner bond with his student. He is constantly searching for more effective ways to reach up to his students, taking keen interest in their lives, influencing them with his own passion for life long learning, thus diminishing the difference between the teacher and the learner. Today’s teachers are guides and friends to the children, leading them to develop both their inner and outer nature.

A significant change is noted in the field of teaching learning process. New fields are explored with the evolution of the society. A shift is noted in exploring new aspects of human being; the soul and the spirit. Awareness in Value education, Psychic education, Spiritual education is growing and the teachers are progressively finding themselves in a greater need to look into these aspects of life and rejuvenate themselves while turning within for guidance and support.

Another important feature of a teacher is that he is constantly dealing with the future where both the learner and the teacher delve deep, breaking pre-conceived ideas, questioning old values, simultaneously bringing new dimension in their outlook, attitude and perception of teaching.

Alternative models in Teacher Education

The above assumptions lead us to look at alternative models practiced by teacher education programme keeping abreast with the changing need of the modern society. Mirambika, a teacher education program envisages Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’s ideal of education. With a radical departure from the existing norms, it believes in the ever-widening process of self-understanding. The role of a teacher is not just one of a trained graduate or a post graduate passing on the acquired knowledge to the student, but guiding the evolution of a whole being, infused with the joy for learning and growing.

The Mirambika Teacher Education Program is radical in approach and innovative in detail. It is an ongoing research in the field of Integral Education and Human development. ‘The program does not seek merely to prepare teachers to teach children, it seeks to go beyond the immediate objectives of teaching in school and addresses the more fundamental questions of human growth and evolution.’ When one decides to be a teacher, one enters a sacred portal and needs to realise the tremendous potential that is present within a young growing person and look within for guidance.[1]

Mirambika teacher education believes in harmonious and integral development of the human being with the psychic consciousness at its centre. It believes in the evolution of human being to a higher realm of consciousness. It encourages the prospective teacher through self-observation to sharpen their instrument and guide the pupil through instruction, influence and example. It instills in the student an urge to discover the inner knowledge that which is within and simultaneously pursue the outer knowledge and harmoniously blend the two.

Philosophical Basis:

The philosophical basis of Mirambika teacher education is based on Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s vision on education. It conceptualizes understanding, translating and practicing Integral education free progress learning. At its core are the three principles of true teaching as delineated by Sri Aurobindo.

According to Sri Aurobindo the teacher of integral yoga follows ‘the method of the Teacher within us’. The persistent endeavor of the teacher in integral education is that she/he knows that the real teacher is seated within the learner, and hands over the task of guidance to that inner guide as soon as possible. Until then, she/he devotes all his energies to one single aim, the flowering of the learner’s faculties and the awakening of the inner guide seated within the learner’s heart.

Sri Aurobindo delineates three principles of true teaching. The first principle is that “Nothing can be taught”. The second principle is that “the mind has to be consulted in its own growth.” The third principle of education is “to work from the near to the far from that which is to that which shall be.”

The above three principles throw considerable light on teaching – learning process. A teacher in mirambika begins his journey with these principles as his guideline practicing them in his life. To realise his objectives, he designs playful and experiential activities for the children and before beckoning the young one’s practice and trod the path himself.

Reflection in Teacher Education

Mirambika teacher education program emphasizes on the growth of the inner being and on its outer manifestation. As an integral part of the teacher’s education and self-development, he is encouraged to do self-observation, self-introspection and reflection. A teacher in mirambika maintains a diary, writes reflective journals, evaluates his own self to record his understanding and progress made in the field. Various exercises and activities are designed, to initiate and enable them to understand the process. In the course of their stay here they write reflective journals initially on the development and progress of the group children, monitored weekly by the coordinator and later widening it to their own lives and struggles, their ambition and visions.

Extracts from reflective journals and two case studies are mentioned here. The reflective journal and the case studies are self-explanatory and give us an insight into the life, mission and role perception of a teacher in Integral education.

The Mission

A teacher has to be clear about his mission. Why do I join this field? Is teaching a profession or a mission? The clarity of one’s understanding changes one’s outlook and perception of teaching. A teacher in her 4th year of education writes;

To lead an integral life, that is, to work on my whole being - body, emotion, mind and psychic, --- are there within me from a very long time, before I had got the chance to work here in mirambika. I was quite certain about what I wanted to do in my life. So, when I came here it was not difficult for me to accept the new way of looking at life, experiencing and learning various new things. It seemed at time as if the path for which I was aspiring was lying in front of me and I only have to walk on it. So with lots of enthusiasm, I started my journey, here in this land of the children.

Living Integral Education

A teacher first learns to manage himself. An ancient wisdom reminds us that that man who would be a teacher of others must first put himself on the path. Education is living and practicing. The teachers need to live and practice in their lives the ideology they believe in before beckoning others.

I was allotted to a particular group of children to take responsibility. I took charge and started observing the children while doing activities in the class. A week later, I found it stressful to manage taking all the sessions in a day and discovered how important it is to be organised. The stress was not imposed by an outside person but by me as I tried different ways to get organised. I took that as a challenge for me and worked with another teacher. Collectively, we’d set goals for a year, plan weekly at the end of the week and implement it throughout the week.

Understanding of the three Principles of Teaching

The three principles of true teaching laid down by Sri Aurobindo are profound yet visionary. The first principle is that ‘Nothing can be taught’; that the teacher is not an instructor or taskmaster but he is a helper and a guide, and that his business is to suggest and not to impose. The second principle is that ‘The mind has to be consulted in its own growth’. The third principle is ‘To work from near to far from that which is to that which shall be’. In other words, education must proceed from direct experience and even that which is abstract and remote experience should be brought to the ken of its experience.

My initial years were spent in unlearning a lot of pre-conceived ideas and beliefs and I was gradually drawn to this process through practice and experience. I recall my first learning “Nothing can be taught” from a child of 3 years old picking up a book lying in the group and started working on it till he finished all the 64 pages with one pointed concentration at one spell. Similarly the third principle ‘near to far’ was brought to my attention when a child announced I will first celebrate my own birthday and then Krishna’s birthday. We would work on topic ‘House’ only to find what we house within and how can we keep our temple within clean. We would work on the topic ‘War’ and delve within for the conflicts that tear us apart. Slowly and gradually every moment became a learning opportunity and we started becoming conscious of the happenings around us and within us. Self-observation, self-introspection, self-questioning became a part of everyday process unfolding new avenues and paths that I had never trod before. These helped in noting my strength and weaknesses. Gradually I was more confident to work with the children.

The paradigm of Learning

Integral education offers a different paradigm for learning and teaching: it begins with the assumption that the learner is a unique, complex and evolving person and needs an education that accepts his or her uniqueness and complexity. It stems from a holistic understanding of human nature.

I had to unlearn a lot before I could relearn. My thoughts, ideas, perspective, preconceived notions and my ego all shattered. I became empty with no mind. I started reflecting, introspecting and asking questions. My initial vision of what Integral Education is all about was very blurred. The word education itself was over for me after I left school in Darjeeling. I thought now I had enough of everything and the time has come to travel across the uncharted seas. My quest, aspiration and Grace brought me to Mirambika.

My real Education began in Mirambika and it took form in different fields of art, music, poetry, dance and games. Learning was in action with unlimited possibilities. The creative spirit, which was dormant for so long, became active. I was nurtured like a child and was given my space to develop naturally. I was now working towards bringing orderliness in my life and sensitizing the senses. The Nachiketa fire was burning in my heart. To understand various situations the tension of dialogue was alive within me.

Teacher – a constant learner

In integral education, a teacher is a constant learner. He not only renews his knowledge in the field of his specialization but also continues to enrich his personality and strives to achieve deeper and higher realization while sharing his knowledge, skills and experience with others, he proceeds along with them.

I visualized first 2-3 years of learning as a discovery mode of learning. Things such as setting up of library, making teaching aids, planning format and many more – all evolved out of experimenting and discovery. I learned that true progress is made not only by developing the faculties and sharpening the skills but when one grows within. Our journey began with the children, sometimes they leading the path and sometimes us guiding them. I got maximum cooperation from the children when I made them conscious of their shortcomings and fostered their strengths and helped them how to learn and not what to learn. I learned that I had many latent possibilities that needed to be tapped, tried and explored. I learned that Integral education is not a school of thought but transcends all boundaries and can be practiced by any individual keen to educate herself. My learning grew manifold both outwardly and within, with an understanding that for a balanced holistic development, the outer and the inner being has to be blended in harmony and peace.

Values in Integral Education

The perception of a teacher in integral education does not merely depend upon what a teacher is or should be or that she has to be a paragon of virtues and qualities in order to set an example. It is more important that she knows where to look, when in need of guidance to be aware of the divine realisation within her, governing her whole life. She looks for the virtues and the qualities within that need to be nurtured and inculcated and also has the skills to do so. Her constant endeavor is to find out her own mission and help others to find theirs.

As all human beings have some desirable and some undesirable qualities in them, I too had many such difficulties. Jealousy, anger, selfishness were the major obstacles in the way. There was a strong urge to overcome all these. When I was in Orissa, I used to hear people talking about practicing sincerity, truthfulness, will power, self discipline, self confidence, but never realized the taste of it nor got any opportunity to make it a living reality. I could not find any proper guide. I came to Delhi, with this inner quest burning brightly in my heart. During our teacher-training period, I attended several sessions on ‘personality development’. The sessions were interactive in nature. Each one of us could speak, be open and share our inner problems. The sessions gave answer to all this. Personally I was involved in this process by practicing and observing my actions and reactions. I could see myself climbing the ladder.

In one evening session with Tara didi, I asked ‘there are many things to be done – to be sincere, perseverance…. What is the starting point?’ Her answer was ‘just control your self, one should know how to control oneself.’

In another occasion I asked didi ‘since three months I am not able to practice anything. Nothing is happening, what should I do?’ She said ‘wait’. ‘How long’ was my question. She replied ‘for eternity’. I understood what she meant. It was the practice of patience and perseverance, which for years I was waiting to do.

With self-observation, I started my long journey of inner exploration hoping that this adventure will make me more aware of my outer nature and also it will lead me to the discovery of my inner world.

Teaching – Learning Process

Teachers develop various teaching strategies to reach out to each individual learner. They restrain from imposing their ideas onto the learner but encourage and enthuse them to explore and device their own learning method thereby instilling in them a sense of learning. A teacher educator narrates an incident where a student teacher questioned her ‘How she could evoke the passion of learning art in him?’ On introspection she become conscious of her own teaching process.

“One day as I entered mirambika lobby, Deep came smiling towards me. He was busy with some students decorating the place, drawing Rangoli on the floor, creating new designs. He said ‘I need to talk to you. Aren’t you surprised seeing me drawing Rangoli and enjoying it? Now I am keen to know how could you develop this interest in me?’

Deep was never interested in Art. He never did Art, neither had aptitude or desire to do it. I promised him that I will never ask him to draw anything in the class but insisted that he should come to the class everyday and do what ever he is interested in. Reflecting on the matter I never insisted that he draw in my class but would make it a point to sit and demonstrate in detail to students sitting on either side of him, different techniques of art. I would engage the student to appreciate art form and what they have drawn. This helped Deep as he would unconsciously participate in the discussion and gradually started drawing.

17.9.03.

Whenever I plan for the class in advance, it gives me a satisfaction and I feel I am ready for it. But when I actually go to the group and face the children the plan goes to the wind. Holding attention of children is not an easy task, especially when one is the anchor. One has to be alert, vigilant, inventive and on the spur of the moment, be capable of changing the course, if required. We revised binary numbers on the abacus and did few conversions. We learnt about how alphabets are coded in binary nos. and how conversions take place in the computer. Surprisingly the kids were interested in knowing how the numbers are stored in the computer, a thing I didn’t plan. I used the opportunity to introduce programming to them and tell them about hard and soft parts of the computer. My planning was something different but this opportunity came out of the blue. And this opening was more effective than my planning. Next time I’ll be on a look out for these moments.

Teaching - a gift

Besides developing one’s own inner realization, the teacher’s role is to help the child’s innate potential to blossom fully. The task of the teacher in integral education is to create an environment to stimulate where the pupil could grow naturally and spiritually, broaden his horizon and the most delicate aspect is to give him inner guidance.

The finest and the foremost thing mirambika offered me, is to experience the joy of freedom, to choose what I want to do. In spite of stumbling and falling, it helped in growing as an individual and enabled me to understand what sincerity is and how to discipline my own life. It also gives me the scope to understand and express my inner hidden possibilities. I started realising that I can write I can sing, I can dance, I can play, I can draw and I can do everything very well. It is like realising and experiencing that everything is inside us and our task is to bring it out.

While working with children it has been always fun, interesting, risk taking, and a big responsibility. Every year it has been something different inwardly as well as outwardly. The learning process has become sometimes very slow and sometimes very fast. According to my aspiration I have got the opportunities – to have an outward experience or inward experience, grow inwardly or outwardly, only wide or high or both. Project work, language, music, arts, dance, games, clay, and carpentry... We used to do a whole lot of things together, and it was so much fun. The questions children asked couldn’t be found in books alone. It required a whole lot of research and hard work and that used to make the topic even more interesting. We made use of our library, resource centre, and resource people and also went for field trips. Most of the time we used to try to integrate our work and give space to every child to grow according to his own pace, every child is special in Mirambika. They are our tomorrow, our future. Experiences like being a musician, or a project coordinator or interaction during English language sessions with the children gave me a sense of fulfillment.

Inspiration, Influence, Example…

Inspiration, influence and examples are effective instruments of a teacher. Setting a good example is an inherent part of the teacher’s task as the teacher sets example not merely by his outward behaviour or act but the manifestation of his inner feeling according to his own nature. Influence is more important than example. A teacher tends to influence simply by his presence, through the contact of the soul. Above all the teacher is looked upon as a source of inspiration that motivates and encourages student to move forward to progress.

Another chapter in my life is Initial Maths. I was fascinated by it and continued to enrich myself in this world of maths. Though I am not teaching it now, the interest is still alive. While doing my B.Ed as well as M.Ed, I had taken this as my project and wrote my thesis on it creating interesting questions for the children, which is the first step to Initial Maths.

During my service in Mirambika, I developed a special interest in initial Mathematics. I was inspired to work with Jasbir Bhaiya who guided me to develop a teaching strategy of initial maths for primary children. The experience I had was wonderful and I enjoyed myself taking great care with my work. All these supports helped me to leave Mirambika in 2000. I came away believing that for the interaction for the people to be meaningful – as far as initial maths was concerned – the first requirement is Trust and this is possible only when there is a strong base of knowledge, understanding, patience, firmness, fairness and love. I take the cue from the child rather than from theories and textbooks; for me, that ensures the child’s needs are met, not the adult’s.

“There are many inspiring messages, stories that helped me when I was not in contact with my spirit.”

During our conversation with ‘dada’, he narrated an anecdote to us. “Once I asked the Mother, Mother, there are many things to be done with children, where is there such time, energy and space? Mother said – ‘give your best always’.” This was enough for me. It inspired me a lot.

From being a teacher to a facilitator

In integral education, a teacher considers herself not as an organiser of learning but a facilitator, a guide. She stimulates the young mind by creating an environment conducive to learning. She facilitates the process to nurture the soul in an atmosphere of freedom and love.

When I had completed a year in Mirambika, I was completely a different person. My journey with the children was full of adventures and explorations. The best part was I was not a teacher like in any other school, but a facilitator who was a kindling flame. We were learning together, playing, singing, and communicating with the young children. They have helped me see the world with new eyes. I am their friend, brother and guide. We could be learning and interacting anywhere in space and time.

No boundaries, no rigidity in learning. The age difference simply didn’t exist.

Self – Evaluation: a dynamic process

Integral education urges teachers to adopt a process of self-introspection, reflection and self-observation to evaluate themselves. The evaluation of the student teacher is based on the belief that one is a best judge of oneself and needs to develop an insight and understanding of self before embarking in the process of self-evaluation. Again it is a non-judgmental, long drawn process and needs constant vigilance. The student teachers are encouraged to record their progress in which development of all parts of the being is noted.

The program and the content offered in teacher education changed me both outwardly and inwardly.

The realization that I have so many hidden possibilities lying untapped changed my perception of my self. The urge for learning more and quest for spiritual path grew. I enjoyed working with the children as a learner doing project work, in-depth studies, experiencing new things every year.

Many a times I was questioned about what I am learning, how I am growing and I found that these questions helped me to introspect more. I started expanding my thinking and widening my perspective. Mirambika has given me the inner strength to move forward. Every year is a new beginning, new orientation, new vistas opening, with the path being laid out and guided by the Mother.

One of the things, which I learnt from integral education, was to become a reflective human being. To become aware and observe myself minutely under any circumstance. I also became conscious of the challenges of life rather than looking at life’s hurdles as problems.

Meditation

Meditation is a powerful mean to control one’s thought process and channelise the energy. It uplifts the being to a higher plane. A teacher attends meditation regularly that help her to brings peace and calm into the being.

There is something good and positive about meditating and starting the day. I woke up with a light feeling in my heart. It was a strange kind of lightness. I asked didi to switch on the tape, ‘Om Agne Maate’. It transported me to some other world with a queer feeling of mysterious caves and water trickling down a rock. I can even see the dark inside the cave. I can even feel the damp coolness on my skin. This feeling stayed with me for sometime and elevated my spirit.

Once I felt close to understanding Psychic presence while taking Initial Maths class with 5+ children. I was sitting in the center of the circle with some children and my colleague was sitting in the painting corner doing painting along with story telling. Children were moving from one corner to the other when their work finished, talking and explaining to each other about their corners. Though there was lot of talking and shouting going on in the atmosphere, nothing could disturb me. Even the children who were working with me continued to be unfazed by the surrounding noise or movement. I continued asking questions eliciting quick and satisfactory responses from them. The whole interaction went on smoothly with peace and calm prevailing inside the circle. The inner silence vibrated and controlled the outer movements and situations.

Integral Education – a tryst with Divine

A teacher accepts his work as a trust from above, the work he is entrusted with. His constant endeavor is to remain in touch with his true self and act from that higher plane of consciousness.

After spending some years here, I am now starting to understand something about Integral education, starting to realise something that the essence of Mirambika lies in recognising and listening to one's own inner guidance, which alone can give peace, joy and guide one’s own self. Looking forward to this is my sole aim now.

As an integral part of their training, the teachers are encouraged to write their views, aspiration, perception, and role of a teacher in their initial years. They review their thoughts and understanding of the role of a teacher periodically. Near the completion of the teacher-training program they write self-appraisal report sharing their frustration and achievements, suggesting changes that need to be addressed. The following two case studies are outcome of such self-appraisal writing.

Case Study I

M. Krisnamoorthy: Krishnamoorthy popularly known as Krishna bhaiya comes from Auroville and has a non formal educational outlook both in his approach and style. He is popular among children for his ability to enthuse and instill in them a sense of striving for perfection and developing skills in basketball, drama and painting. Krishna teaches English to children of age group 10 + to 12+. His classroom is usually filled with children’s laughter and it becomes a stage for perpetual drama. He is a keen sportsman and coordinates and organises the physical education program for the age group 10+ onward.

Stepping Stones:

Those days have gone but still I keep hold of them in a special alcove in my heart. They are not mere memories; they are animated thoughts filled with energy, stimulation, motivation and enthusiasm to push me through the hardships of my present and give me the courage to jump into the unknown void of the future ….

June 20th 2001 8:30 a.m. the sun had started shining brightly and sweat poured out of my body as the bus pulled in front of the Ashram? A mixture of nervous excitement and sorrow of leaving home gripped me. I didn’t know what lay in store for me beyond those Iron gates. I had arrived one month ahead of actual commencement of teacher training programme. But the month slid slowly packed with grinding mirchi and wheat in the kitchen from 8:30 to 3:30 p.m. As if my life lacked enough spice, Arvind bhaiya was marching around the place wearing a Hitler like expression on his face and scaring the wits out of me. Sports and meditation completed the dreary picture. It was all so, so different.

On July 12th I was exported from the kitchen to Mirambika. I was thrilled and eager anticipation washed me over. It was the beginning of the roller-coaster ride which would change me so much. English, child psychology, integral education, pedagogy, child observation, art, clay modeling, carpentry, self-reflection, fights with peers, assignments, sports, Baren bhaiya, Srila di, Harvinder didi, Kamala didi …. The onslaught of all these knocked me out completely. By the time I actually crept into my bed I was too exhausted to sleep even. The thing which annoyed me the most was that we were sent on cleaning missions occasionally (art room, costume room, junk room and the list can go on and on). There seemed to be no dirth of dirty places in Mirambika. It was only later that I started to respect all odd jobs that I was assigned and do it to my best. The kind of work held less importance than the way I did it. It was quite a humbling experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the handwork sessions as I found another way of expressing myself apart from art. Gradually as I started getting in tune with my hectic schedule, the theory classes made more sense to me. A whole new world of ideas was unfolding before me. A world where there was little space for your own petty troubles and problems, a world which seemed too good to be true. It existed only in the books. It was distant, fascinating and intimidating. Would I get to partake in this land of fantasy? But the same teeny – weeny voice inside me gave me hope to give it a try. The reflective journal which I had to maintain, gave me a chance to break down my day into sections and review them systematically. My day was somewhat more organized than earlier times. It gave me a strange sense of satisfaction.

Yes there were moments when resentment built in me and I felt suffocated. Moments when I felt people were not fair, were demanding, harsh and judgmental? It seemed that I wasn’t getting enough space and time for myself.

Apart from these we were involved in doing hands on activities like carpentry, clay modeling, origami and art. I simply hated painting. Ritu didi was the one who enthused me a great deal and just let me splash paint on the blank sheets and before I could realize it, the blob of paint started taking amazing shapes and forms. Anger, frustration, sorrow, neglect, joy and freedom I could express it all on paper. Words had failed me but colors were my best friends. So many knots untied. I was breathing fresh clear air. It was while doing art that I came to see how my life was taking a meaningful form and I started thinking about my aim.

The first year skidded to a grinding halt and the second year saw me working away laboriously at setting goals for a group (11+) for which I was to be the Diya. Waves of doubt and anxiety overwhelmed me. Was I ready to take up this enormous responsibility? Nevertheless there was a small voice inside which encouraged me and gave me enough strength to stand in the face of such negative thoughts. I set about planning my first lesson with Lakshmi di (my co diya) with spirit and vigor.

But alas! That was the first lesson which I was about to learn as a teacher – what looked so interesting and perfect on paper fell flat on its face in the group. One whole year of intensive training on integral education, pedagogy, child psychology and effective teaching techniques all blurred as I bravely tried to hold back tears which threatened to spill over. Nothing … Nothing had prepared me for this. What went wrong? Oh what? Luckily I had a friend  to pull me out of the misery. She helped me introspect honestly, which is a quality so special to people in mirambika. At some point or the other they are open to sincere consideration of their own actions. It doesn’t mean I was comfortable instantly. It took me quite some time before I could introspect without condemning myself too much. And gradually through my interaction with the children the realization dawned on me how important it was for me to be spontaneous and improvise on the spot. I had a period of laziness, a conviction that I could do without the introspection, I had to cope with physical illness, broke my collarbone and was laid in plaster for 1&1/2 months.

A prerequisite for this to happen was a lot of sensitivity towards children’s needs. I also learned that somewhere I had to bury my bundle of ego 1000 feet under the ground, which is something, I am still struggling with. Anyway at least I had one bleak ray of light illumine my way; I sat with the children and planned each activity according to their needs and interest. It proved to be a more fruitful exercise.

Gradually feeling for children grew better at communication though there was trouble shooting and behavioral problem resolution. This was the turning point in my life. I introspected and restarted to write reflective journal and shared with my peers my experience during the meetings.

The one thing which made me feel uncomfortable was the quality of freedom given to the children of mirambika. I understood it as a license to do whatever one wants and that was quite disconcerting. As time passed I started feeling more and more responsible for children and also learned writing the reports without being judgmental, conducting parents meetings. Evaluating the children raised the record of my confidence level.

Yet another year to pass and it was the final year too. This time I was well equipped to handle the larger group. There were different levels amongst the children. A feeling of heartbreak due to change of group, unsettled, passion of attachment to former group stirred my thoughts. I contemplated how could I handle a large group? This year gave me a different experience, diverse, rich, challenging and I gained more confidence. Managing a larger group and its own challenges, handling multilevel learning and understanding that change is important for us to grow stronger. We resist change because there is uncertainty. I realized that learning can continue regardless of the group one works with without limiting oneself to a handful of children.

I actually started applying integral education at conscious level. I did and am doing lot of planning, organizing, assessing aspects of physical development in children and their education, over and above taking charge of top four groups. I am now working with clear objectives in mind about developing a programme for them. It was Baren bhaiya who inspired me and through this I have learnt time management, organization of activities and precision in work.

I, M. Krishnamoorthy third year teacher trainee, the anonymous river from Auroville have flowed a long way to mirambika. Now I feel my coming here is not a chance happening. It all seems predestined. I can only go further and further till I realize my own vastness. Till I gain the capacity to make myself and the world around as beautiful as it is possible to be. I did not have any idea of my own potential and now I know that, given time and space I have been able to tap my hidden potential.

I can grow and need to hold on to become independent and develop new strategy to use my energies constructively. I have more to explore and understand about my aim in life and the way that I can use the given conditions to strive for a new and different future for  myself and the world I work and live in.

“An Aimless life is always a miserable life”

This quotation of The Mother made me introspect now and then, when I was in solitude, among the crowd, friends, relatives at home, at school, at night, in the day, whenever and wherever. This introspection gave me deeper, higher and wider understanding of things around me. Starting the journey sometimes might be boring, no fascination and it may demand more liveliness and exertion, but what is one’s goal? What is one’s objective? One’s aim to attain ‘that’ should ever remain in your heart, (mind) until one wholly accomplishes that which one has aimed to achieve.

Hence take initiatives to change the core, the source, the origin, which lies silent and peacefully waiting for your attention. Turn within and then project yourself that is your “self” out. You see, feel, enjoy, witness, your own potential.

I had a vision to be of service to man and seek to gain materially and dedicate myself to help the poor, those with special needs. I would choose a path less trod if it will meet my needs and work towards my final goal. I am confident, truthful to myself and have chosen to be alone and experience all the ways before choosing the right path. I am confident that I know what is good for me and now choose between working towards my aim of self-growth rather than extending myself for everyone as I used to do. I will now learn a big lesson in my life, which I do not know now but feel deep within me as a possibility.

Case Study II

Lakshmi Jayaram: Mirambika has several resource persons who joined and stayed with us for years. Laxmi di is one of them who has contributed considerably and simultaneously enriched herself. With Lakshmi, children share and express their happiness and sorrow freely. She does not know what to name these classes – moral class/value development class or home session? What ever it may be she is a friend to her students with whom they confide their secrets. Lakshmi di is also a teacher educator conducting science workshops for the student teachers. Her sessions are filled with science and spirituality.

One early morning I had a dream. In that dream I was playing with several children and suddenly left the children to drift into a desert. At the far end of the desert I saw majestic golden mountains. I started walking across the desert to reach the mountains. I came near a slippery hillock which was very wet and with hesitation I climbed up the hillock and went to the other side to enter a temple. On the right side of the temple were stairs and I climbed and reached a square room in which a man was sitting. He told me that the woman who does the “Pooja” had gone outside and asked me to wait. I came out and saw a woman standing below the stairs. I woke up and started to do the household work. I never felt so peaceful before. The slightest movement was very jarring to the peace. I did not go to mirambika that day because I wanted to assimilate that experience. It lasted for a day and half but left me totally changed. The next day when I went to mirambika I involuntarily touched the ground at the entrance with respect. Since that day mirambika became a temple of work for me. Irritation, criticism, annoyance at the behavior of others and several other things took leave of me.

Like in the above dream, I literally drifted into mirambika nine years back. After completing M.Ed I started to apply to several schools and one day I prayed to Sri Sathya Sai Baba to guide me properly. When I went to check the mail immediately I found a letter sent by Sri Aurobindo Ashram to attend the orientation program and I took it as the guidance I prayed for and attended the orientation programme.

Till then my knowledge about Sri Aurobindo was limited to the information that he was the author of Life Divine. I did not know who The Mother was. Three points that were spoken in the orientation program mesmerised me.

  • By effort and aspiration one can discover one’s Swabhava.
  • By aspiration one can bring down The Divine to earth
  • Importance of three hundred years of physical continuity in the evolution of consciousness

I did not understand these at that time but they were effective in making an opening in me. I took a decision to join mirambika because I wanted to know about the alternative education that I heard during the programme.

To me it was like an adventure in the unknown regions without any guidance. I was put in a group and without any hesitation I accepted because I was very sure of my content level in science and previous experience. I started with “the then progress group (8-9 years of age). When I looked at the planning sheet everything, the physical, vital, mental and psychic looked like Greek and Latin to me. I realised that I had to learn so many things. I had slowly familiarised myself with the terms physical, vital, mental, psychic and spiritual. In another session with the then principal I came across the words like stepping back, observing the thoughts, consciousness, Sadhana, yoga, the shifts that one has to make to become a facilitator, information accessing, organising, assimilating, presenting etc. Here, I used the word “getting familiarised”, because I had neither used them nor experienced them at that time. The information was absorbed and stored neatly in my sub-conscious.

One day in ‘96, when I was in the green group, I looked at the photograph of the Mother. I felt something deep within me and now I know that I made contact with the Mother. But the real opening occurred when I was in the Green group. One day (i.e. after 3 months of joining mirambika) I came to school very angry. I told this to one of the seniors and she advised me to drink a glass of water and the principal asked me to offer it to the Mother. I was guided to the meditation room and obediently I searched for the meditation room because till then I was not even aware that there was a meditation room in mirambika. As I didn’t know how one can ‘offer’ I just sat in front of the Mother’s photograph and looked at her. Some how I felt very calm and left the room peacefully. After that, till today, whenever I get upset for any reason or when I feel peaceful and happy, I spend my time in the meditation room. Nobody discouraged or questioned me as to why I spent my time in meditation room and now I think that is the ‘mirambika’ way. I found a way to control, channelise and purify my vital without anyone teaching me. That ‘freedom’ has in one way brought me to this level and that room became an anchor for me in mirambika. Like a curious child I used to approach one or two senior teachers to teach me to meditate and to tell me about consciousness and psychic. All I got was an elusive answer that these could not be understood intellectually.

I don’t remember how I took it but all I recollect was that when I was put in the library I started to read the writings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Slowly I got interest in the library work. I devoted my time in dusting and arranging the books on the shelves. This work put me in touch with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s work. I started reading their books. By the end of 3 years a zoology teacher has metamorphosed into a good librarian. During that time I have unlearnt everything in science. I was fresh like a child; absorbing Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s work like a sponge. I have also learned that one can take up any work to progress and skill development in the basis for any kind for information learning. At that time another faculty which was hitherto pushed back, came into light, i.e. I began to write once again. Amazingly the next couple of years became precious for me because of the visions and experiences that I had. They brought me closer to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and I strongly felt their presence in mirambika. Work became worship for me and the thought that I was an apparent failure in the eyes of society left me for good. I felt that I was an instrument in the hands of the Mother though at that time I did not know what my work was in the cosmic plan. I started to write a lot and the then principal and another senior diya gave me lot of encouragement. The beauty of it was that they both never tried to correct my writings and accepted them as they were and it taught me one important lesson. If writing, drawing or any other form of expression comes from psychic never even think of correcting it or pass comments on it. Leave it for the world to enjoy it and till today I strictly follow it with the children’s work.

Though inner growth was taking place in me, my outer nature was still the same. Getting annoyed quickly, intolerance to criticism and imperfection in others, bursting out angrily and using words severely, craving for praise, past hurts projecting into weird forms, sulking for a long time, living in the past, were all there.

At this juncture, I was sent to the group. I worked with various groups for six years. During this period two parallel things were going on in me simultaneously, the inner growth and the mental relearning. Hitherto understood dreams and visions started to make sense and were acting like guidelines. On the mental front I started to plan with insight, observed the children to know and evaluate them from within. I liked those two years of work i.e. 1999 and 2000. Once I was sitting in the “Living Museum”. As it was the month of “Art, craft and science Corners”, the room was crowded with electronic gadgets, batik work displayed, knotted ropes, painted pots, glazed tile pictures and papers. As I was preparing for my class, I saw two children who were “labeled” as “naughty” children entered the living museum and after a ‘hi and hello’ to me they went straight to the electronic sections. I stopped writing and approached them to see what they were doing. Their faces were beaming with happiness and upon questioning they informed me that they made these games and came to see whether they were working properly. I congratulated and showed “real interest” in these works and they left the room with satisfaction. I knew that this was a reward for them.

I came back to continue my work but my thoughts wouldn’t budge even an inch further. Then I realized that I was looking at myself. I felt surprised because my normal reaction would have been to talk to the children not to touch the gadgets as they would spoil it if they did so. But now I understand their “need” to be with their accomplished task and get thrilled about. Once they were rewarded by adults’ genuine happiness, they left the room without being “naughty”.

What a change in me, I thought. A lecturer had transformed into a facilitator. Now I realize that Education is not imparting information alone. It is not all tests and grading. One has to first establish a loving link with the children and colleagues. Unless this is done we cannot succeed in being a successful guide. ‘Guiding’ is the right word regarding education. A child has to be guided or facilitated to learn on his own. Innovative methods of offering the topics are always to be in the thought of the teachers. A teacher or guide has to be always alert and creative regarding teaching. The shifts that I wrote about previously were all experienced and practiced by me.

Then came a big challenge. Information level was on the rise and pangs of coping up with new authority started. Initially I could not take it and revolted several times. My sulking, criticism and health problems were on the rise. So I started to assert myself and for a time being forgot that I was an instrument in The Mother's hand and so were the others. I did not have enough time to read the masters’ works. At the home front also material possession started to take over me. Every year I had to work with a new diya. My changing role and duties as a coordinator, a resource person, and a project teacher confused and taught me new lessons, of course after much mental stress and ego clashes.

But The Mother’s plan was different. As I had a ligament problem I was put in cast and could not go to mirambika for couple of months. During that period I spent my time in reading books other than science. I took fancy in preparing a curriculum for the age group between eight and thirteen years on values. I strongly felt that dealing with the vital is equally important. I started to work with children on the vital front.

I started to take up one value after another. Children enjoyed the role-plays, games and stories. These classes brought lot of changes in me. I became quieter and quieter day by day and started to reflect on many things. I earnestly believed that one has to live the values that one teaches. So I began to observe myself and wherever and whenever something was lacking I started to work on it.

The group work, value classes, and the discipline I imposed on myself with attempts to be a good mom and wife became too much for me. I could not handle every thing. Naturally it did wonders to my back and moods. Again I stayed home for about twenty days undergoing medical treatment. When I went back to mirambika I expressed my wish to stay out of the group and take only value classes. Reluctantly I was given permission and I devoted my self completely to these classes.

In these five months lot of irreversible changes took place in me. Craving for perfection gave place to doing the work in hand as best as possible. The circumstances were so created that the desire for material gains and possessions had completely vanished. I learnt to step back and it taught me to accept others as they were and appreciate others. I stopped criticising others because I realised that one should not criticise unless one has the capacity to change or show alternative ways.

Right now I enjoy my children at school. A kind of love and compassion flows towards others. There is an inner joy almost all the time. The irritation that I had experienced towards the increasing levels of academics and authority had also changed. I am positive that it is not a helpless acceptance but a glad surrender to the ways of the Divine. Now my entire focus is on the final victory of the vision envisaged by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and I believe that mirambika and all of us have a role to play.

I express my gratitude to the Mother and mirambika for bringing a change in me. Now I realize that I was never forced to do anything out of my will. Suggestions and advice were given to me only when I sought for it. Positive support and appreciation was given to me when I took up something innovatively, creatively and beautifully. Though I was angry and expressed my views a little aggressively, mirambika dealt with it affectionately and with understanding. Above all I was treated like a person.

I joyfully collaborate with everybody in this onward march.

Analysis of the reflective journals and the case studies:

The extracts from the reflective Journal and the case studies are self-explanatory. The reflective journal of the teachers point to the fact that values and qualities such as faith, trust, aspiration are universal. That the teacher identifies and realises the need of these human values is a sign of progress in the psychic and spiritual domain.

All the above case studies written by teachers are spontaneous expressions and vivid recollection of their understanding, living and practicing of Integral Education. The case studies themselves are revelations and important documents in the life of a teacher following integral education. As one goes through the experiences narrated by the teachers there are some salient features which stand out predominantly. The case studies indicate the following;

Motivation: That each one of them has opted to come for teacher education of their own volition and not out of circumstantial factor, makes a difference in the teaching mission. They are self-motivated learners and willingly practice whatever they learn in their own lives. With their aims and goals focused on becoming an effective teacher they have gradually transformed into committed teachers of integral education.

Introspection: That each teacher has gone through a great deal of introspection and self- analysis to discover his or her own strengths and weaknesses. There has been a serious effort of non-critical self-evaluation and for self-development.

Reflective teaching: The understanding that to be a sensitive and reflective person is the need of the hour in today’s educational environment as teachers’ deal with tender hearts. Writing reflective journal which is an activity unique to the teacher education programme, is imperative as it empowers the teacher to become conscious of his own self, develops control over his emotions, changes the course of his action voluntarily and betters his capabilities and performance.

Constant Learner: That the teacher has to continue learning along with the child. That any learning is a life long process and that children play an important role in teachers’ learning and development, is clearly stated by all.

Freedom and Discipline: Understanding of the fact that freedom is not a license and both freedom and self-discipline are intertwined and imperative for the soul’s growth. All case studies mentioned freedom of choice to decide one’s future plan, freedom to evolve curriculum and the freedom to pursue one’s aim to be the unique features of the teacher education program. It creates a relaxed atmosphere, congenial for self-development.

Instruction and Influence: That only one has mentioned about instruction, reflects that instructions are used minimum in mirambika be it with the children or among the teachers. Mostly they learn from examples, experience and inspiration. Almost all mentioned that they were influenced at different stages of their life in mirambika by someone or the other, initiated to this concept of influence through books, helped by children's loving responses and above all by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s guidance. It varied from individual to individual as to who and what influenced them. For example, a few mentioned about developing an everlasting interest in maths under the influence of a teacher, whereas another teachers’ influence was felt in the area of leading an integral life. The influence of the environment, books, children and co-teachers are also noteworthy.

Facilitator: That all of them understand the role of the teacher as a facilitator and not one who is imparting knowledge brings a change in the teaching – learning process. Creating pleasant environment for learning and taking the onus of the learning onto oneself is the key to integral learning. Facilitation enhances creativity. Facilitator guides the path of the learner and suggests them how to learn.

Teaching-learning process: Role of Rewards and Punishment do not figure in any of the study. So does product-based learning, which gives way to process based learning as mentioned in some case-studies. This implies that there is a need to look into the teaching learning process of teacher education programme.

The Course Curriculum

A cursory glance at the entire course curriculum and the course structure offered to its teacher, designed and followed in various years points to some common features unique to mirambika teacher education. The broad outline of the curriculum focuses on;

  1. Self development of the students, nurturing human values emphasizing on the individual growth. Time and space are provided to adjust with the Ashram environment and living in an ashram environment, saturated in spiritual ideals. The course curriculum designed in different years includes components like Who am I? or Understanding Human development with special reference to self or Personality growth. This forms the major part of the curriculum beside language skills, Art and craft and music.
  2. Another feature of the curriculum is the teaching practice. It deviates from the normal practices in its approach and application. The approach is innovative, experimental and experiential activity oriented. Student teachers have the freedom to chose their own projects and present their findings through seminars and workshops. 50% of the learning is based on practical work. This is achieved by creating conducive learning environment that caters to both psychological and physical needs of the child by the student-teachers who design activities to realise their goals to achieve their mission. Besides, the students spend half of their time in the classroom either interacting with the children or observing them and assisting the group diyas in various possible teaching aspects. This leads to the third aspect,
  3. ‘Feedback’ concept where student teachers plan, implement their ideas and evaluate them by sharing regularly with their coordinator and discuss different aspects of the teaching learning process and the child’s psychology. The sessions become lively with anecdotes and actual incidents and through situation analysis where each student has to find solutions according to their own nature vis-à-vis the child.
  4. The flexibility of the course allows student teachers to design their learning program. If they feel the need to interact with children they can do so under supervision or pursue specific area according to their interest within the parameters of the teaching learning programme which tries to follow the principles of teaching
  5. In number work they follow ‘Initial maths’ specially developed by the school maths teachers in consonance with the school philosophy. 
  6. The school curriculum and the teacher education curriculum run parallel and overlap in certain areas, so that the transaction from one area to another area is smooth. The course curriculum encompasses the emerging needs of the school. The content, topics are introduced and adjusted according to the school needs thereby fostering and promoting harmonious blending of the two programs.
  7. a. Activity and Project based learning: The methodology adopted in the school is project based learning. Similarly in the teacher education, student teacher also takes up projects to explore and conduct indepth learning. The student teachers participate actively in all the school programs and help in organizing them also.
    b. Action research: Mirambika encourages its student at all levels to take up action research and case study and to develop new material in Integral Education. Ongoing research is conducted in the fields of physical education, initial maths, sensorial development and development of mental faculties. Slides, short documentary film on mirambika, booklet on physical education, power point presentation on mental faculty are available.
  8. The course duration is of 3 years. In the first year, the Student teachers focus on self-development, in the second year the focus is on class room management, planning implementation and evaluation, learning to interact with parents and various other agencies to accommodate and expand their horizon of teaching learning process. The third year comprises development of organisational skills; organising school activities such as trips and celebrations and consolidating their learning. A few take up Action research study and prepare research proposals and reports and some work on case study.
  9. The major part of the curriculum constitutes understanding and practicing Integral education following three principles of true teaching.
  10. The evaluation of the student teacher does not follow the normal procedure but is based on the belief that education of the soul and character cannot be assessed or measured but is more subjective and is a long drawn process. Therefore the students themselves are encouraged to maintain diaries, reflective journals, do self observation, self introspection and record their progress through which their psychological, emotional, social, mental, psychical and physical development is noted. The evaluation is purely non-judgmental and subjective in nature.

A few cardinal features of teacher education are;

  1. Freedom and self-discipline
  2. Psychic development
  3. Shift in attitude of the teacher from teaching to learning
  4. Becoming a Facilitator
  5. Continuous evaluation with special emphasis on self evaluation

Curriculum for Integral Teacher Education in Mirambika.

The integral teacher education curriculum is spread over 3 years. In the first year the teacher trainees are oriented towards their own self development, training of hand skills, improvement of communication skills and an understanding of Integral education.

1. Integral Education

(Aspects of Integral education and their application: concepts of Mental, Vital, Physical, Psychic education and their application, understanding Free Progress learning, Three principles of true teaching, shift in attitude from teacher to facilitator.) These involve questionnaire, files, assignments, and practice of integral education in one’s own life.

2. Human Development

  1. Self-development – Who am I, (aim of my life, my learning process, self–observation, self questioning, managing time, using freedom , self actualisation; Maslow’s theory of self realisation – The Science of Living, maintaining reflective journals, vision of the teacher, learning styles, learning theories)
  2. Child development – understanding needs of the child, child’s psychology, pattern of growth and development – Piaget theory, How children learn – John Holt, Bandura’s Observation theory, J. Bruner – Icon theory, Multiple Intelligence, Planes and Parts of the Being.

3. Models of Teaching

Value attainment model, Concept attainment model, Enquiry training model, Integral Education

4. Teaching changes to learning

The emphasis is self discovery, guided research, and discovery based learning, research based inquiry and a docking of art, music, drama and the learning of concepts. The emphasis is not on teacher centered learning but on child and teacher cooperation and coordination. This makes the class lively and varied.

  1. Initial Maths: A program developed and followed in mirambika, essentially focuses on intuitive learning, mental calculation at the initial stage and on concept based practical projects on the later stages. Example of few of the maths project taken up by the student teacher are geometry and space ‘labyrinth’, ‘banking’, ‘Mirambika student culture – a survey work’, ‘Mathematics in Nature’.
  2. Language development: Includes, communication skills, story telling, making worksheets, appreciation of literature, integrating language with project work, creative and critical writing, writing article and poetry for school magazine, reciting and enacting poetry.
  3. Science and Social science methodology - consists of guided and discovery oriented approach – experiments, experiential activities, making models, teaching aids related to the projects. The student-teacher are exposed to different approach and learning strategies.

5. Skill development

  1. 5.1 Vocational Skills – Weaving, Carpentry, Clay modeling, Pottery, Candle making, Chalk making, Handmade paper and products, Agarbati making, basket weaving, beekeeping, agriculture – kitchen gardening. Recycling and composting. Animal care and Cooking.
  2. 5.2Aesthetic development – art and craft, music, drama

Art and Craft

(Both visual and performing art; drawing, painting, sketching, pottery, sculpture).

Art in education - Understanding what is art, Why art teaching, drawing, painting, calligraphy, model making, Integrated project of art and craft, Composition and Design, Art appreciation.

5.3 Music

(Instrumental music, vocal, dance). Understanding and exploring Melody, rhythm, beat, tempo. Learning voice projection, voice modulation, language, lyrics, learning chanting of slokas, carols, hymns. Teachers are encouraged to write poems and compose songs and tune. Creative dance movements, learning various dance forms; Dandiya, Garba, Bamboo dance, Naga dance, Sword dance and folk dance.

Compose simple rhymes, dance sequences, action related poems, epics- Ramayana, Mahabharata. Link music with everyday life and nature.

5.4Theatre in Education

a)Theatre for self development. Understanding the body – movement, posture, voice, facial expressions. Physical energy - relaxing, concentration, focusing attention and action. Facing a partner, getting over inhibitions. Developing trust. Cooperation and understanding one another. Working together, receiving, creating and passing on. Finding one’s own space in a group, while remaining connected with ones inner and outer world. Imagination, detailing and interaction. Defining oneself, strengths, weaknesses.

Analysing emotion, enacting and creating situations (improvisation) spontaneity, expression of self and group, making scenes, making songs.)

b) Understanding Theatre for one’s own expression

Elements of theatre: actors–action, speech, interaction, space – design, colour, shapes, lights; choreography – image, aesthetics, makeup, creating masks. Kinds of theatre – different spaces, different impact, space and improvisation, discerning performance stage, arena, outdoors. History of Theatre in India – Asian & western theatre.

The teaching learning program delineated for the 2nd  year;

1. Integral education in the classroom situation using the impact of instruction, example and influence.

{Aspects related to Goal setting, Planning, Reflective teaching, Psychic education (through centering and concentration exercises), Self improvement, making the teacher aware of their own growth through self analysis.}

2. Integral Health

(Undertaking activities with children and self on Integral health – good eating habits, cooking, catering, choosing activities for physical well being, rest , relaxation, Yoga,   Understanding the needs of one’s own body and the ways to improve the senses, gain control over ones body and overcoming defects if any.)

3.Teaching –Learning Pedagogy

1.Applying the techniques of pedagogy learnt in first year and following the principle of True teaching. Educational technology, Class room management, Project Work integrating science, social science, language and mathematics using creative and innovative technique, Observing the self and the working in a group, Psychic education.

2.Resource Management - preparing worksheets, questionnaires, Using Educational technology – learning to handle computer, OHP, SP, CD, VCR, DVD, computer aided material – magnetic sensor, microscope, motion imager, material care and organisation of school space – wall magazine, display boards, library management – cataloguing, shelving, book purchase, computers in the library. Resource room management – models, teaching aids and material production.

3.Methodology of teaching content – the mirambika approach. Choosing at least 2 subject areas and undertake intensive activity in the group. Planning language development for children of various age groups both in Hindi and English enhancing creativity, writing articles, poetry for newsletter. Preparing activities and worksheets in language. Developing teaching strategies through action research. Planning Maths applying the method of initials maths, concrete experience and through project work. Computer education – Linux and its use. Computer based learning – using Power point, Excel, Database, Word to prepare learning materials.

4. Evaluation in Integral Education

1.Examining Educational Philosophy 2.Observation, keeping development records, collecting and processing data using participant analysis methods, 3. Report writing,  4. Parent evaluation strategies

5.Skill development: choosing any Hobby – agriculture, environment improvement, Community services in health, literacy, and awareness campaigns. Art – various art techniques; pencil drawing, sketching, shading, painting-using water, poster, ink, art as a medium of expression, understanding child’s psychology through art medium. Music - exploring melody, rhythm, beat, learning instrumental and vocal music both Indian and European.  Infuse sense of rhythm and listening to the music in the world around. Each teacher chooses an instrument from Flute, Violin, Tabla, Hawaiian guitar or vocal music and studies under a musician – guru for a period of 3 years. Theatre in Education – theatre for introspection, –Creating a play with children. Reading plays, writing plays.

The teaching learning program delineated for the 3rd  year;

Integral education

1.Action Research (developing and evaluating teaching learning strategies of one’s own to develop faculties, senses, social skills, values, manual skills.

2. Case Study – Self reflection on ones own development – towards integrating inner and outer development.

3.Understanding oneself – practicing silence, becoming whole, making a change in self and society.

The teacher is now in-charge of the group and working towards gaining complete confidence not only as a person but also a true teacher. The practice and perfection of the method of Integral education is the main aim of this year.

4.1 Pedagogy studies – Directed reading of the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and other philosophers and philosophy.

4.2 Evaluation – Uses for improvement - Orienting parents and children on understanding Integral education. Organising camps and working with teachers and in other schools. Taking responsibility for organising school based activities – club, excursions, celebrations, physical development. Orienting teachers in 1st and 2nd years in day to day activities through participation, observation, evaluation and discussions.

4.3 Action research – Undertaking a project in any subject - theatre, music, art. Teaching Project methods evolving new strategies, taking up any special interest subject taken up in second year and developing an innovative practice or material and try out. Making discovery oriented activities in the Science laboratory. Curriculum development for the primary, upper Primary and secondary school.

5. Aesthetic developmentArt education includes development of aesthetic sense, planning art activities for children, enhance creativity, graphic design, book printing and publication, carpentry, exhibitions for social awareness, caring, maintaining beauty and order in the environment of the class, school and surroundings. Striving for Perfection in work. Music – Organising dance drama, playing, teaching and performing instrumental music. Theatre in education– Direction – its elements and using these techniques - Writing plays and organising its production – lights, cost, sound, sets etc.

Conclusion

The content and program offered in mirambika teacher education programme coupled with the philosophy that it follows and the environment in which the teachers are placed plays a significant role in the preparation of the educator. It initiates a dynamic process of self-observation, self questioning, thus bringing a change in attitude and perception.

Participating in a community life oriented towards spirituality, practising ‘Science of Living’ in life, regularly attending discourses on the ‘Message of Gita’, ‘Psychic education, maintaining daily diary, writing reflective journal are some that a teacher endeavours in her pursuit for knowledge and mission. The environment encourages them to pursue their aim of life, ‘give their best’ and ‘remain in contact with their deepest self’.

The proposed teacher education curriculum is derived from the grass root experiences of the teachers over the years. It is an outcome of a need based, practical, spiritually inclined programme practiced by student teachers at different stages of their journey during their stay in mirambika. The program initiates the student teacher to a life long journey of being a seeker and discovering their hidden potentials and talents.

This study of mirambika teacher education points to the fact that at the core of Integral education lies the development of the inner being which seeks to perfect its instrument, bringing harmony in the outer and inner nature, accenting towards growth of consciousness. It endeavours to inculcate a meaning and purpose to learning for the evolution of a better society. In the effort every one who comes to mirambika does so out of burning desire to learn, the child, the diya and this alone provides the energy to continue. Our ardent hope is to see a change in Education where the focus is learning for all not merely manipulating the teacher or the child. The freedom around and in everyone’s spirit is the guide, the equality for everyone to live and grow without condition and rule. Enquiry not Imposition, Equality not mere Quality and Perfection not competition are the values we cherish and aspire to inculcate.