By Shivi Verma January 2013 The third WE ASC World Education Culture Congress at the India HabitatCenter, New Delhi from January, 17 to 19, 2013,hopes to bring about a holistic approach to education. Shivi Verma interviews theconvener, Lady Shruti Rana Most of the ills of our present society can be blamed on our faulty education system. A system that enforces knowledge from without, instead of drawing out a child’s innate genius and capabilities, has given us a nation that may be good at earning a livelihood but has not imbibed the basics of leading a life. An inability to handle feelings, or negotiate the pitfalls of relationships, or understand our own selves, have left us lost and confused, wondering why it is that pedigreed education and high IQ cannot guarantee happiness, peace of mind or the other great gifts of life. Introducing a holistic, and spiritual outlook into the education system is therefore a crying need.The third WE ASC World Education Culture Congress to be organised at the India Habitat Center from January, 17 to 19, 2013, aims to do just that. Organised by Shruti Rana under the Shruti Foundation, the WE ASC will hold workshops, seminars and essay competition to highlight the concept of Purna Taleem or complete education. Lady Shruti Rana is an educationist, a musician, a teacher and an exponent of traditional Indian knowledge systems and philosophy. She is also a psychologist and health consultant and works for social empowerment and wellness of women, youth and ethnic communities. She founded Shruti Foundation, a non-profit, charitable trust in 2006 for patronizing holistic education models, traditional wisdom and defending human rights. She lives in Belfast, UK, and works both from Delhi (India) and UK. She was awarded the Delhi Ratna Govt. of India Award in 2002 for her contribution in the realm of healing music. Presenting below excerpts from an email interview: What or who has been your inspiration behind your philanthropic activities? The inner call to transform approaches to human development and well-being, and to provide opportunities and tools for facilitating a sensitive, innovative, knowledgeable, empowered and above all, a loving and caring world, have been the main driving force of my life and work. This deep aspiration, which stirred my personal meditations and striving, ultimately led to the organic birth and growth of Shruti Foundation. The foundation strives to discover and nurture the best of indigenous, modern technologies and paradigms for empowering the inner and outer lives of individuals across the globe. What is the reason for your keen interest in education? In my search for truth and joy, I remember luminous moments of childhood, youth and adulthood where I came across insightful learning of ancestors and wise people. The wonder continued to grow as I evolved through my engagements with human psychology, philosophy, science, governance, ethics and health embedded in our great indigenous traditions. They included studies in self-discipline, education, wellness and transformation in Hatha Yoga and Nada Yoga, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, Kabir and Sri Aurobindo’s writings, Sri Vidya and Kashmir Shaivism, Sankhya, Vedas and Upanishads, Shabad, Dhammapada, spiritual mathematics of Aryabhatt and Boudhayana, Chanakya niti, Sushrut-samhita, and above all the local wisdom of wellness and societal managements collected from my various travels and personal involvements across India and the world. I have successfully cured others and myself with the science of seed sounds (beejas) of the Indic Sonic traditions. I am also an advocate of the harmonious applications of the Indian raga to alter cellular consciousness and enhance creative sensibilities. Strangely enough, this enrichment was never a part of the formal education system I grew up in. All these gems were either gifted by loved ones or painstakingly researched by me, from outside. My interest, therefore, has been to strive towards erecting a learning ethos which has a multi-pronged approach to knock on the doors of human sensitivities. Both failure and success must be accepted and celebrated as necessary processes in the journey of self-discovery and personal growth. An education which can shed the shell of false beliefs and securities in which we live, which questions accepted paradigms, theories and systems, and accepted ways of learning, mentoring, evaluation and assessment. Something which challenges our notions of truth and falsehood, history and reality, important versus unimportant. I believe this can be achieved by combining the brilliance of local, and global knowledge systems. This can bring about opportunities for further experimentation and innovation in education, for cross-cultural fertilization of knowledge. My quest is to charter new paths for integrity, pluralism, freshness and innovation in human expression and evolution. What is the purpose of WE ASC? My aim through WE ASC Education Initiative and the Congresses is to facilitate a collective endeavor for the evolution of an education culture meant for human and societal well-being and empowerment. The WE ASC World Education Culture Congress has been held annually in New Delhi by Shruti Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations, ICCR and the British Council over the past two years. Shruti Foundation is organising the third WE ASC Congress from January 17 to 19, and the teacher Training Workshop on January 15 and 16 in collaboration with CBSE and other educational and cultural institutions. The theme for the WE ASC Congress 2013 is Purna Taaleem (Integral Learning and Training) with mentoring, self and wellness as key factors. The 2013 Congress advocates the need to revisit the role of mentoring in local-global contexts to deal with the prevailing crisis of self-identity among individuals for societal well being. The program will also have a video streaming to institutions in India and abroad and students, educators, parents and delegates will get an opportunity to interact with some of the best educators, thinkers, practitioners and policy makers. What, according to you, are the components of a holistic model of education? Holistic education is that which addresses all the planes and parts of the individual. These include the physical, emotional, psychological, mental, intuitive, psychic and spiritual parts of human consciousness. Powerful mentoring and true learning can only take place when the mind of the learner is allowed and aided to draw from its inner realms. It includes the power of imagination, assimilation, creativity, organisation, effort and final manifestation. The role of the mentor and evaluater becomes paramount in this process. It must evolve to become that of a helper, friend, guide, collaborator and nurturer, constantly guarding oneself and the learner from learning pre-conceived ideas by the force of compulsion, habit and dominating attitudes. Most essentially, both failure and success must be accepted and celebrated as necessary processes in the journey of self discovery and personal growth. The student, parent, teacher, institution and society needs to work in collaboration for making the learning journey fearless, innovative and joyous for all. This can only be achieved by opening up a world of possibilities through local and global dialogue, cross-cultural interaction, and having freedom to experiment and express the various options of learning tools. What have been your achievements in the first two Congresses? Delegates from about 40 countries converged in Delhi at the WE ASC World Education Culture Congress in 2011 and 2012. Organised by Shruti Foundation, the event was convened by me. This four-day meet explored the relevance of integral systems in formal education culture, with special focus on soft skills and traditional knowledge systems, and their role in human development and socioeconomic empowerment. Initiated in Delhi, the WE ASC movement promoted mainstream development of holistic teaching methods. The Congress resolutions centered on holistic pedagogies, educational and cultural rights, ethics, course and curriculum development, education policy, evaluation and accreditation, educational exclusion and skills development with the inclusion of traditional knowledge systems in a local-global context. These directives have witnessed a gratifying response, and vigorous follow-up with educational, cultural and research institutions, policy-making and government bodies are under way to implement recommendations and projects.
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