Looking for a good school for your child? Meet representatives from Panyaden School in Bangkok this weekend at the “Kids’ Learning Expo 2010” (organized by Nanmee Books & Rak Look Magazine, Thailand’s leading motherhood magazine.)
Here is a great opportunity for you and your family to meet with the Principal (Kru Maggie) and teaching staff who will be there to answer any questions you need to ask in order to assess a school’s suitability for your child.
Pilot School Program
To breathe life into the holistic education approach, the Founders of Panyaden School started Kid-dee House at Rattanakosin Road in Chiang Mai City. It is a pilot program to test the school curriculum that aims to teach children to think and care for themselves, to open up their minds and imagination in ways that will help themselves and others.
At Kid-dee House, children from 3+ to 6+ years old are taught the main eight main subjects required by the Thai Ministry of Education (Math, Science, Thai, English, Thai art, Social and Cultural Studies, Physical Education, Technology including the basics of living). It is, however, not rote learning or a mere transmission of knowledge from teacher to student.
Here, children are given carefully selected toys to expose them to creative play, a library of Thai and English books to encourage a love for reading and learning, art and craft classes, music lessons, even swimming and cooking lessons. They can run around in the large playground and enjoy time outdoors with their schoolmates and teachers.
They are taken for walks and encouraged to speak out about what they see around them, to ask questions, to draw and write about their experiences and what they have learnt. Children are taught to take pride in themselves and to communicate and show that they understand what they have learnt and how they may be able to apply that in daily life.
Classes are small (1 mentor to 4 children) so that the teachers can devote more time to each child’s learning and development. Each day begins with the singing of the Thai National Anthem and paying respect to the King. Next come prayers after which the children along with the Principal (Kru Maggie), teachers and mentors, sit in silent meditation.
The three main principles of Buddhism, ‘adhisila-sikkha’ (training in higher morality), ‘adhicitta-sikkha’ (training in higher mentality) and ‘adhipanna-sikkha’ (training in higher wisdom), are taught and practiced by both the teachers and the students. A lot of emphasis is paid on calming the mind and cultivating inner peace and happiness for the school believes that a happy child will be able to enjoy learning better.
Ultimately the measure of the Panyaden curriculum’s success will be a well-schooled, well-adjusted, independent individual who is environmentally mindful and lives by a set of moral standards. He/she will enjoy learning and will, at the same time, apply that knowledge to daily life and to society.
There is a quiet excitement in the air as we gathered at K. Tik’s house to meet the Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro, the Spiritual Advisor of Panyaden School. He had come to Chiang Mai to visit the school construction site and to give a dhamma talk to the trainee teachers and to the Panyaden School team (foremen, the local liaison Ajahn Sorn, the ‘Bamboo Boss’ Ajahn Decha and many more).
Once we are all seated, Ajahn Jayasaro is given booklets that Kru Maggie (Principal and designer of the school’s curriculum) and the trainee teachers have brought with them after their 2-day nature jaunt in Doi Inthanon. The teachers had written down short poems, sketched or painted their meditations on the connection between life and nature.
Ajahn Jayasaro went through the booklets, smiled and made comments before he began to share his thoughts on education.
In his dhamma talks, Ajahn Jayasaro often states that “Buddhism is not a belief-based religion” but an education-based one which teaches people to “liberate themselves from all suffering through a clear penetrative understanding of the way things are.”
The biggest obstacle to true happiness in life is ignorance. The Buddhist teachings show us how to transcend ignorance. “From then you can see it is a matter of education.”
Ajahn Jayasaro is a well-known advocate of “adapting Buddhist developmental principles to the education process” – one that involves teaching children to develop wise relationships to the physical, social, emotional worlds they inhabit.
“Most importantly, the jewel in the crown of Buddhism is its emphasis on wisdom and the practical technique to develop and to nourish this …A Buddhist approach does not overlook “the traditional features of an educational system but adds on to it…”
“In order to flourish in the world, it’s not then a matter of merely accumulating a body of knowledge, so much as cultivating a strong but supple mind and the ability to develop life skills such as skillful communication, the ability to work in a team, patience, resilience (the ability to bounce back after disappointments), the ability to manage one’s moods, and to protect the mind from pride, arrogance, greed, hatred, depression, anxiety, and panic. These abilities are being increasingly recognized as being more useful and necessary in the long run to a successful working life rather than having a particular degree under your belt.” (Ajahn Jayasaro, “Buddhist Wisdom In Education”, Buddhist Approach, https://www.panyaden.ac.th).
After the talk, Ajahn answered questions from the floor before guiding everyone in meditation. An appropriate ending to an insightful afternoon.
This billboard was erected today at the Huay Kaew-Rincome Junction. Check out our website (https://www.panyaden.ac.th) for more information or call 080-078-5115 (when calling from Thailand; from elsewhere, please call +668-0078-5115).
Come visit us on 28 November 2010 (Open House Day) between 9am to 1.30pm.