What if we plan the process of education guided by the belief that success in school means success in life as a loving and caring human being who makes a difference in the life of others?
Today research have taught us that character traits such as grit, perseverance, and audacity are not innate but qualities we can teach and develop. Both hard and soft sciences are opening our eyes to the wondrous powers of education in lifting or leaving behind a child.
By education I mean everything that goes into shaping and raising a human being between the home, the community, the school and the whole village. Proponent and STEM and STEAM would be happy to hear how Abdu’l-Baha resolves their conflict and brings every one together by His explanation of real education. There is much in common between what STEAM and STEM want from a real education. Ruth Catchen explains STEAM by saying; “we have a responsibility to educate the whole child to become a global citizen in his or her community.
Abdu’l-Baha shares his wisdom about the station, the role and the process of education in early 1900 considering the dual nature of human reality and self:
The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind and draweth down the grace and favour of the All-Merciful, for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory. If a child be trained from his infancy, he will, through the loving care of the Holy Gardener, drink in the crystal waters of the spirit and of knowledge, like a young tree amid the rolling brooks. And certainly he will gather to himself the bright rays of the Sun of Truth, and through its light and heat will grow ever fresh and fair in the garden of life.
Therefore must the mentor be a doctor as well: that is, he must, in instructing the child, remedy its faults; must give him learning, and at the same time rear him to have a spiritual nature. Let the teacher be a doctor to the character of the child, thus will he heal the spiritual ailments of the children of men.
If, in this momentous task, a mighty effort be exerted, the world of humanity will shine out with other adornings, and shed the fairest light. Then will this darksome place grow luminous, and this abode of earth turn into Heaven. The very demons will change to angels then, and wolves to shepherds of the flock, and the wild-dog pack to gazelles that pasture on the plains of oneness, and ravening beasts to peaceful herds, and birds of prey, with talons sharp as knives, to songsters warbling their sweet native notes.
For the inner reality of man is a demarcation line between the shadow and the light, a place where the two seas meet; 1 it is the lowest point on the arc of descent, 2 and therefore is it capable of gaining all the grades above. With education it can achieve all excellence; devoid of education it will stay on, at the lowest point of imperfection.
Every child is potentially the light of the world—and at the same time its darkness; wherefore must the question of education be accounted as of primary importance. From his infancy, the child must be nursed at the breast of God’s love, 131 and nurtured in the embrace of His knowledge, that he may radiate light, grow in spirituality, be filled with wisdom and learning, and take on the characteristics of the angelic host. Abdu’l-Baha
This is our 5th year at Palomares offering our Empowerment curriculum with outstanding success. In the words of Superintendent Richard Martinez; “You are saving lives, you are saving lives.”
Our program from the very inception was an integration of STEM and STEAM. We call it real education or integrated education. We observe that when we attend to the material as well as the spiritual reality of our students, they fly to the apex of prosperity and salvation. They not only become smart, they become good!! That is what we want; good as well as smart!! You might call it STEM and STEAM.
In the two drawings above and bellow two group of students drew their understanding of the lessons they had learned for several weeks on the subject of transformative mediation.
Bellow please find a few of the integrative processes that includes STEM as well as STEAM include in our process:
drawing the concepts learned,
putting it into rhythm and rhyme,
putting it into music
creating a skit and performing it before class,
role play in small groups,
using the STAR of self awareness in teams of two or three
listening and making sense of a story
telling a story with proper emotions and body language
In the pictures bellow students brought into focus the summary of their understanding of the concepts learned through drawings, a right brain activity. Each student in the group had 30 seconds to draw in silence what they learned before they paused and gave turn to the person sitting next to them. Students incorporated in their process the spirit of cooperation and collaboration they have been learning and practicing in class. This activity is just as informative as any traditional ways of testing or evaluating the students learning.