Cleaning the Home and the Mind
November 14, 2014
Why are these Nepali students cleaning a toilet? It’s not a punishment- it’s a learning experience! This particular toilet-cleaning lesson is part of a 2-day camp that our partner school in Nepal runs yearly to teach 3 types of cleanliness: of the environment, of the body, and of the mind.
For the environment, students practice different household chores. For the body, students learn about personal hygiene. For the mind, students practice meditation techniques to improve their ability to concentrate. Students also gather into groups to reflect on their good and bad habits. These camp activities serve to teach students self-dependence. At the same time, the camp also reinforces teamwork, as students work together to set up the tents they will sleep in overnight. Finally, the camp makes time for fun – students take breaks to play games on the lawn, which overlooks a stunning valley view!
Our partner school refers to this type of education as “moral education”, which essentially means helping students develop good character and healthy habits. Moral education is one of the founding principles of this particular school. However, this is not to be confused with “religious” education; the founder says they use morality lessons that would be common across most religions (i.e. honesty, healthy lifestyle choices, etc.).
I think a lot of Americans cringe at the sound of “moral education” in our schools, preferring that to be the domain of the family. But how many of us would really object to our kids participating in this type of camp? My mother has told me that lessons on household management and personal hygiene were common in previous generations, generally as part of a “home economics” course. But in my experience working in U.S. public schools, this type of education is no longer a priority. One of my hopes for the upcoming TIEs summer program is that American teachers will observe how the Nepali teachers approach moral education, and determine for themselves what they could/should apply back at their home schools.
So what is your take on this “moral education”? Do you think we should have more of this type of education in U.S. schools? TIEs would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!