Teaching Buddhism to School Children (Part 2)

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As always this time too I feel history becomes meaningful to school students only when they see connection between historical ideas and their present life. This is also true for Buddhism, an idea that is as relevant today as it was 2,500 years ago.

Recently I had been asked to facilitate a class for standard 3 to 6 students (8 to 11 years old) in an upcoming school in Ahmedabad. There were about 30 participant altogether. We began with a small silence session. After 2 minute of silence they were asked about their experience. As expected, none of them knew what meditation is. While sharing their personal experiences they were found innocent, and spoke straight from hearts. One boy told about his craving for good food, another said about her fascination for cloths, etc. The experience sharing session went on for 15 min. This was followed by a general discussion on desire — how this brings suffering into our life.

Then we shifted to the dawn of history, how desire has been the cause of suffering throughout human existence. We discussed about the Buddha and his teachings, about his childhood experiences that made him a seeker of understanding the root cause of human suffering.

After hitting the essence of the idea, we discussed about Emperor Ashoka, one of the greatest kings of India. Emperor Ashoka was known to children but what was not known is his reflection on compassion after the Kalinga War. We explore this topic by watching a five minute video clip on Ashoka from the well-known series ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’. While watching the video, we paused and discussed how war is disastrous and compassion can transform our world into a much better place for living.

The idea of compassion as discussed in the last post had passed into the life of Gandhiji.

We again watched a clipping from the movie ‘Gandhi’ on Champaran Satyagraha. Children watched how Gandhiji was comforting peasant farmers of Champaran who were suffering from the exploitation by the British.

The session was very encouraging for me as a facilitator. I felt that children could grasp better the idea of compassion, a great gift from India to humanity and its relevance today.

I would like end this note with a quote by Dalai Lama.

‘Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive’.

By Jitu Mishra — Educational Specialist (Member of Test Development Team)

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Originally published at blog.ei-india.com on December 31, 2015.

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