A child is a member of a family, a community and the world. It is important that schools integrate human education as integral part of their Broader, Bolder education for the 21st century, an education which is capable of saving humanity.
The ground new education has to cover is vast. For example, teachers today are increasingly more fearful of their students and schools have to frisk children through security for weapons before they can enter schools. Another disturbing factor is growing criminality, prejudice and hatred in younger and younger children. From Littleton, Colorado, to Sarajevo and Bosnia, what has gone wrong? The perpetrators were innocent children not long ago.
Children are themselves more apprehensive, insecure and fearful. Compounding factors that are more difficult to counter are the escalating volume of international terrorism around the world, deteriorating global environment, growing and random abuse and violence in communities. Many problems are global in nature but many relate to lack of a proper education in the three schools of humanity: the home, the school and society.
If future lies in part within the four walls of a school, can conflict and its elimination be possible in part through education? Can hearts be changed by proactively sowing the seeds of love from the youngest ages so that when children grow up, they cannot think of violence, conflict and war? Can the diverse views and people unite to work together for the common cause -- the welfare of the children?
While formal schooling cannot fix all the problems facing humanity, schools can attempt to provide children with more balanced education that puts combines Human and Spiritual Education with Material Education. Is there demonstrable evidence that this kind of education leads to the outcomes we seek from it--a more tolerant world, for example?
Child to Child, Heart to Heart
Children need to learn not only how to work with each other and tolerate the other but also feel a deeper emotion of love for the other, irrespective of how different the other is in her views, habits, culture and tradition. Present form of multi-cultural education focuses on the 4 F's: Food, Festivals, Flags and Fabrics of different countries and cultures. While it creates knowledge of the other, multi cultural education in its most prevalent form, provides often a limited understanding of human diversity and its richness. Even coexistence cannot be taught unless diversity is experienced, acknowledged and appreciated. Such programs, though valuable, are not sufficient enough an antidote to the intolerance for difference we face today. They are not sufficient to immunize a child, for example, against the kind of crimes that took place not long ago in Littleton and Kosovo. The perpetrators were little children not long ago who played together and who often went to the same school.
The time has come when the children are taught to recognize the fundamental unity of the human race, a unity based on diversity and not on sameness. M. Scott Peck most beautifully puts it. We must learn to "share our similarities, celebrate our differences," and that we are all different and yet the same. Children need to learn to appreciate and embrace diversity even more than they appreciate sameness. Imagine a garden full of flowers of the same colour, size and perfume. It is the diversity of the flowers in a garden that makes a garden beautiful. Likewise the diversity of the human race makes the world more beautiful. Diversity allows for creative growth and inquiry. Unity in diversity is an expression of unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation. "This attainment is made possible through passionate concern for choice, in an atmosphere of social trust." (Michael Novak, epigraph opening Unity in Diversity: An Index to the Publications of Conservative and Libertarian Institutions )
Children are never born prejudiced. Instead, it is the environment in which they learn the prejudices their elders have taught them. We need to teach our children to be open minded to other possible ways of thinking and being, and to appreciate the diversity of the human race. These are essential ingredients of an education for the 21st Century.
Global understanding must go a step beyond academic appreciation to experiencing diversity. International exchanges and diverse school communities are a wonderful way to have children appreciate the good in the 'other' from the earliest age. When they visit other countries or have children visit them from other countries through Children's International Summer Villages (CISV) or the International School to School Experience (ISSE) Programmes, for example, they never forget these experiences. These programs build bridges of understanding that go far beyond any intellectual understanding. They create love and understanding for the 'other'. They touch the hearts.
Children never forget these experiences. When a school hosts a student delegation, it can be a rewarding experience for all. The impact is often life changing.
In last two decades CMS has sent 72 delegations comprising of 358 participants to 17 countries. CMS has also hosted 177 delegations comprising of 926 participants from 25 countries.
CMS experience has shown how a school can bring hearts together from diverse countries and nations to focus on issues of common interest, and in particular, on the welfare of children and making a world safe for them. The children's appeal to world leaders and chief justices of the world has had a measurable impact as documented in the last chapter of this book.
To create a culture of peace and develop a love for diversity, CMS creates a myriad opportunities for personal interaction among diverse student groups. It organizes, for example, some 32 international exchanges and events at its World Unity Convention Center complete with two guest houses which CMS has custom built for this specific purpose. [[http://www.cmseducation.org/events.html].
In the last decade since 2001, 5020 schools from all 28 states of India and 72 countries abroad have participated in conferences and events at CMS where not only have they had the opportunity to learn from each, they have also been able to better understand the Broader, Bolder model of education as being implemented by CMS. They not only appreciate such a model, they also take back to their schools and communities some of the lessons learned.
CMS began to send out teams of children for international exchanges around the world as early as 1972. Since 1985, CMS has also hosted its own CISV Camp each year in which children from ten to thirteen countries live together for a month.
- Making a quality person through International Students' Quality Control Circles ICSQCC –Kanpur Road Campus, Quality Building.
- Celebrating English Literature through Odyssey International – Mahanagar Campus I, Lighthouse Building.
- Developing a passion for Mathematics through International Young Mathematicians Convention – Gomti Nagar Campus, Global Understanding Building.
- Developing a flair for science through International Science Fair QUANTA – Chowk Campus, Integration Building.
- Creating Maths wizards through Wizards at Mathematics International WIZMIC – RDSO Campus, Wisdom Building.
- Developing a spirit of healthy competition through MACFAIR International – Mahanagar Campus II, Excellence Building.
- Expanding knowledge of computers through COFAS International – Station Road Campus, Vasudhaiv Kutumbukam Building (Earth is One Home)
- Widening awareness of the world through International Geography Olympiad GEOFEST –Mahanagar Campus III, Character Building.
- Educating our future through International Youth Festival of Biotechnology QUEST – Rajendra Nagar Campus I, Peace Building.
- Learning about history through International Youth Festival of History & Civics REFLECTIONS –Rajendra Nagar Campus III, Kindness Building.
- Promoting Cosmic awareness through International Astronomy Olympiad – Chowk Campus, Integration Building
- Creating Healthy Body Healthy Minds through International Sports Olympiad EXSPO –RDSO Campus, Wisdom Building.
- Celebrating discovery through International Cultural-Literary Function EUREKA – Anandnagar Campus, Service Building.
- Deepening emotions through International Music Festival CELESTA – Aliganj Campus I, Harmony Building.
- Finding ones talents through International Education Fair - Personality Development and Career Counseling Department, Jai-Jagat! Building (Hail the World)
- Entertaining while educating through International Children's Film Festival - CMS Films Division, Jai-Jagat! Building (Hail the World)
- Encouraging creativity and innovation through International Innovations Day – Jopling Road Campus, Family Building.
- Eliminating differences through Children's International Summer Village (C.I.S.V.) Camp, Jai-Jagat! Building, Inspection Department.
- Understanding beauty of the inner soul through International Innerscape, Lighthouse Building, CMS Mahanagar Campus I.
- Nurturing global understanding through International School-to-School Exchange Programme (I.S.S.E.), Jai-Jagat Building, Inspection.
- Celebrating oneness through Commonwealth Youth Conference, Global Understanding Building, Gomti Nagar Campus.
- Striving for a peaceful world through SAARC Youth Festival, Consultation Building, Rajendra Nagar Campus III.
- Promoting cross cultural awareness through International Youth Festival, Rajajipuram Campus, Friendship Building
- Promoting sustainable development through World Peace Festival, Indiranagar Campus, Communal Harmony Building
- Expanding knowledge through World Unity Summit and International Educational Technology Development Programme, Kanpur Road Campus, Quality Building,
- Increasing prosperity for all through International Youth Convention on Global Economics and Commerce, Station Road Campus, Vashudhaiv Kutumbukam Building,
Events for Principals and Decision Makers
- Evolving Effective Teaching Methods, International Conference of Pre-Primary and Primary Principals, Jai-Jagat! Building, CMS, Quality Assurance Department.
- Creating world citizens through International Conference on Global Trends and Innovations in Education - GLOBAL TIE, Rajajipuram Campus I, Friendship Building.
- Changing the direction of education through Ed Leadership – An International Roundtable for Educators Worldwide, Jai-Jagat! Building, CMS Innovation Wing
- Promoting peace and unity through International Conference of Chief Justices of the World, Jai-Jagat! Building, World Unity Education Department (WUED).
- Building mutual trust through International Conference on promoting Interfaith Discourse in Multi-Religious Community, Unity Building, Asharfabad Campus.
- Addressing growing criminality in and against children, International Media Conference on Growing Criminality In and Against Children, Jai-Jagat Building, World Unity Education Department (WUED)
Service to Humanity
Service learning combines service to the community with learning outside the classroom. Through service learning students are involved in meaningful community service with instruction and reflection components built in. Many see it as a great way to bring alive the curriculum and connect learning to real life.
In Broader Bolder education, service learning is more specifically directed to prepare students for a life of service, to strengthen resolve and build leadership skills in them in order that they may help those less privileged or in need, and to direct their efforts to helping a community with its needs. The notions of service therefore go beyond charity to recognize service as a way of life. Such training prepares students more fully for a life of service and makes them more proactive agents of social transformation. Research has shown children have a desire to serve. This desire must be supported and nurtured through education.
At the experience level for the child, CMS frequently organises service and environment related activities that nurture in children a desire to serve.
CMS students participate in environment and conservation projects with the objective of promote environmental awareness and to involve the masses in cleaning up the environment. In the Clean Gomti Campaign, for example, CMS joined forces with local volunteers to clean the Gomti river. This proved to be a source of inspiration for students of Riverlands School in Australia, for example, who subsequently emulated the project in their own country.
CMS students also organize massive campaigns against noise pollution each year in the fall. The campaign aims at persuading children, as also the public at large, to resist from lighting high-decibel fire crackers and celebrate a pollution-free Diwali. Valentines Day, for example, is celebrated by CMS as a Family Day.
CMS Floats and Marches
CMS peace floats and marches are a regular feature of the annual Republic Day Parade in January each year which is avidly watched and appreciated by millions of viewers city and state wide. CMS floats are always based on the theme of peace. They have won the Governor Trophy and the Best Float of award a record number of times during the last 26 years.
CMS students and teachers often carry out marches to raise awareness of various issues.
Bringing in the Diverse Religious Community
CMS organises interfaith dialogues, debates and discussions to build a more tolerant community. A world parliament of children is organised each time a school function is held. This is an impressive setting in which tens of children sit in a semi circular arrangement. As representatives of different countries of the world, they take up issues of global concern and come up with solutions to world problems. A distinguishing point is that even while they represent different countries, they represent their views from the vantage point of being citizens of the world. They thus think in terms of welfare of the entire human race and not just the welfare of their own countries.
For the past twelve years, CMS has been hosting the World Unity Satsang which is a non-denominational gathering of peoples of different faiths, the parents and other community member and leaders. The Satsang addresses the need for tolerance, non-violence and world peace and how these goals may be realized. Some of the most well known religious and civic leaders have addressed these Satsangs, for example, Sri Sri Ravishankar and Dada Vaswani, among others. Several well-known musicians and singers have also render devotional hymns at these gatherings.
Prayer for World Peace
A unique World Peace Prayer Ceremony graces every occasion. In this simple yet effective ceremony children hold flags of different nations of the world and pray for peace in every country and continent in the world. An equally powerful All Religions Prayer is an integral part of children's morning assemblies and used to start every CMS event. Children of different backgrounds say prayers that are sacred to their religion in the presence of children and parents of all faiths. This has a tremendous salutary effect on the psychology of both parents and students.
All these activities build peace loving individuals who are tolerant of differences and who are citizens of the world.
In a city historically torn by conflicts, especially religious, CMS has created a climate of peaceful coexistence and also succeeded in diffusing tensions and violence between Hindus and Muslims. At a time when the Babri Masjid was attacked by Hindu fundamentalists in a city not far away from the capital city of Lucknow, entire India was engulfed in violence. Lucknow escaped this violence. Many have accredited this to the impact of this large school on the populations of Lucknow over a period of time.
When the Ayodhya Mosque was destroyed in 1992, violence and death occurred throughout the state of Uttar Pradesh, of which Lucknow is the capital city. In the capital, however, because of the initiative of the school, no one was killed. Religious leaders were invited to the school each evening to agree an interfaith statement designed to calm the violence; students and parents then toured the city with loudspeakers proclaiming theses messages of tolerance."
Eyewitness accounts of this have been documented in 'War Prevention Works: 50 Stories of People Resolving Conflict' by UK's Oxford Research Group and in 'People Building Peace: 35 Inspiring Stories From Around the World',
This has also been documented in a book published by European Centre for Conflict Prevention, the Netherlands
'A Bold Experiment In Teaching Values' an article by Carolyn Cottom in Educational Leadership, ASCD, USA in 1996, states: "As the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India with 140 million people and just 40 miles from the site, Lucknow was especially vulnerable to violence. Indeed, Uttar Pradesh's government collapsed because of this issue. Yet, in Lucknow, not one casualty occurred.
The UK based Keighley Interfaith Group and Peace Direct invited CMS students and representatives to share their experience with coexistence education. They wanted to 'establish links with those who have transformed similar situations and will reinforce the feeling in our communities that something can be done to resolve conflicts..., foster harmonious relations between and among the diverse communities which make up the population of and to share their experiences with communities in Keighley, Bradford, Leeds, Loughborough, London, and Dover'. This is because, they wrote: "Their [school] experience is extraordinary."
The Indo-Pak Children's Initiative
The Indo-Pak conflict resolution project came into existence in 1999 when the Indian and Pakistani armies were locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation at Kargil, a border area between India and Pakistan. The children took initiative to build bridges of understanding with their neighboring country by initiating a letter exchange with students across the border. The Indo-Pak Children's Friendship Club "Aao Dosti Karein" has facilitated letter exchanges between thousands of CMS students with their Pakistani counterparts. This connected ordinary children on both sides of the border and led also to physical exchange of students.
Later this bond of friendship has led to exchange visits between CMS students and students of many Pakistani schools. Not only children but also hundreds of people on both sides of the border have been brought together for sports and other activities under this initiative by CMS.
To begin with, CMS students mailed about 4000 letters to 35 schools in Pakistan whose addresses were downloaded from the Internet, as a friendly initiative to the surprise of hardliners on both sides of the border. At a time when mutual relations were abysmally low, CMS also successfully managed to host the first group of Pakistani children's delegation despite a horrendous visa process and the effective shutdown of all major transportation routes between the two countries. The number of exchange visits has since increased and the response to letters is overwhelming.
The letters from children showcase a tremendous sense of responsibility and determination to change the face of things for better. Undoubtedly, mind-sets are changing and conversions of hearts are taking place and in some small way, through a simple act of exchange of letters, rekindling a spirit of mutual trust and unity.
A few extracts of letters sent to and received from the schools in Pakistan are posted on the following links:
Children's Appeal to the Chief Justices and Policy Makers Worldwide
While appreciating the phenomenal work by the United Nations over the decades, CMS has put in much effort to urge governments of the world, especially the Indian government to take on a proactive role in jointly coming up with alternative systems of democratic governance that can deal effectively with issues that transcend national boundaries: issues of displaced populations, trafficking of women and children across borders, the state of poverty in which majority of the world's children live, international terrorism, global environment, and for a secure future for the world's children, to act as a deterrent to wars, for example.
A recent and massive media campaign by the school, quoting an Article of the Constitution of India, calls for the promotion of international peace and security. For this, the school has secured the support of a large number of people from all parts of India and even commitments of support from individuals within the government. For example, after reading the school's appeal in a letter dated 20th January, 2010, Member of Parliament, Mr Shanta Kumar, wrote: "The appeal made by the students of City Montessori School is well taken. I can assure you of my support to such legislation if it comes before the Parliament."
This has shown how a children's appeal has far more impact than appeals made by and on behalf of adults and their organizations
Conference of the Chief Justices
The World's Judiciary is seen as an unbiased body that can help safeguard the future of the world's children. The CMS children's appeal to the Chief Justices has also had a wide appeal and they have endorsed this in huge numbers. To date, no less than 358 Chief Justices and Judges of Supreme Courts and High Courts of 92 countries of the world including 102 Hon'ble Chief Justices and Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts of India have participated in the last 10 International Conferences of the Chief Justices of the World. They have supported and endorsed Article 51 of the Constitution of India and acknowledged it as the only answer to the safety and well-being of the world's children and to create a peaceful world. [http://www.cmseducation.org/article51]
At the 10th Conference of the Chief Justices held in December 2009, a historic resolution was passed unanimously by the representatives of the judiciary present at the conference. Such a conference would be an incredible achievement for any government to organise, let alone for a school in Lucknow, India.
Many CMS students have taken inspiration from these conferences and many have been inspired to get into the field of law in order to promote the cause of justice.
CMS has received a number of endorsements for its multifarious efforts to create a world safe for children. For example, CMS was awarded in 2004 the Nuclear-Free Future Special Achievement Award "for its visionary new world order peace campaign and for its mission on behalf of the world's children and the coming generations to create a nuclear free future." CMS also received the title of 'Global Friend' of World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child, Sweden, by an international jury of the world's children.
Now, it is not expected that every school should go out and create a forum for chief justices or leaders!! The point is that in its lighthouse role, a school can bring in the community at the local, regional or global levels. They can discuss issues of concern to children and come up with pliable solutions. Children too should be encouraged to think about world affairs and participate in brainstorming about solutions. Instead of being seen as one-off events, these directions should be seen as fully integral to a process of education for the 21st century.
Against prevalent norms that focus on narrow nationalism, CMS adopted the clarion call of 'Jai Jagat!' – 'Hail the World', not 'Jai Hind' – 'Hail India', the prevalent greeting. The school vowed to create through education world citizens endowed with a global mindset who cannot imagine conflict and war, and who become in time, proactive agents of social transformation. Using a multi-pronged approach and inspired by the vision to make school a lighthouse of society, CMS began to educate not only the children but also parents and society at large. As a result, all began to witness the remarkable benefits of such a comprehensive approach on their children's and parents' mindset.
Parents and the population at large began to buy into the school's vision. Initially, parents would object to such programs as the All Religions Prayer in which children recite prayers on the same platform from all major scriptures. Gradually, parents began to see them as important in creating a more tolerant world through such education from the earliest ages.
It is remarkable to note that the diverse factors of Lucknow have been more agreeable to this dose of unity education precisely because children are the common factor for these diverse communities. The CMS trial has thereby shown how schools can in fact play a critical and vital role in bringing about peace and unity in otherwise divisive communities and that children are the gel.
Thus, in Lucknow and well-beyond, the institution has demonstrated that it is possible to achieve tangible unity and peace by efforts of a school community.
The problem of apartheid in South Africa or the problem of disunity faced by minority populations everywhere on grounds of their religion, political affiliation or economic background, may be solved far better as the experience in Lucknow has shown, by giving children from these diverse communities a common broader education that builds mutual trust and understanding from the earliest ages. Trust relationships can thus be built from the youngest ages through a comprehensive and directed programme structured within the schooling process itself by arranging that children learn, play and pray together. A school can further undertake proactive outreach efforts involving children, parents and the community at large.
As a result of these consistent and relentless efforts, CMS has become known for its world unity education and the motto of Jai Jagat! – Hail the World! – has reached far corners of the world. A school has become a model to the world on how to build the 'defenses of peace in the minds of men', so that children may be inoculated forever from thoughts of communal and religious hated and conflicts, and who from their earliest childhood will consider everyone as a brother or a sister.
- True education releases capacities, develops analytical abilities, confidence in oneself, will power and goal setting competencies, and instills the vision that will enable a person to become one day a self-motivated agent of social transformation and a person capable of serving the best interests of the community.
- Education in the 21st century needs a more expanded definition that frees it from today's largely economic context and acknowledges its role in transforming both individual lives and entire societies.
- The aim of education, which is a continuous and creative process, is to develop the capacities latent in human nature and to coordinate their expression for the enrichment and progress of society, by equipping children with spiritual, moral and material knowledge.