A version of this article originally appeared in the ‘Indianz Outlook’ monthly newspaper

 

“Peace schools” could one day be the norm if a trend towards more holistic methods of education continues. Many parents now look for schools that not only teach intellectual skills, but encourage blossoming of the wisdom needed to use these skills for the benefit of everyone. Qualities like compassion, tolerance and equanimity are more valuable than ever as global civilization faces new challenges.   

 

One of the most popular types of alternative education in New Zealand is the Montessori system. In 2006 Mark and Helena Royden founded Golden Grove, a Montessori primary school in Onehunga, after they moved to New Zealand from Canada. They soon had to relocate to a larger building to keep up with the increasing number of pupils. In addition to a rigorous academic curriculum the school offers activities such as tai chi, nature trips and silent reflection.

 

Golden Grove models itself on similar Montessori schools around the globe, such as Oneness-Family School in the USA which is an “International Peace Academy” for young people. Both schools pride themselves on accommodating a wide range of students from many different cultural and spiritual backgrounds. What makes them unique compared to mainstream schools is a more holistic approach in which the development of virtues and inner peace is given great importance alongside scholastic excellence.

 

Peace education, the idea that children should be taught how to contribute to global harmony and understanding, is an idea that has blossomed greatly after World War II and the establishment of the United Nations. Sri Chinmoy is one of the pioneers of peace education. His many books on the subject include A Child’s Heart and a Child’s Dream, in which he explains that the spiritual growth of a child is just as important as their physical growth. Without nourishing the inner spark of consciousness that each child embodies, a parent or teacher cannot unlock his or her full potential.

On the importance of children, Sri Chinmoy writes:

 “We talk about perfection, but this perfection that we speak of will come only from children – from a child’s heart and a child’s dreams. The old creation has to surrender to the new”.

For more information about Golden Grove School, visit its website:

www.goldengrove.school.nz

Oneness-Family School in Maryland, USA has been pioneering the ‘peace schools’ model for many years:

www.onenessfamily.org