9 Dec : A primary school in Australia teaches Sanskrit, Latin, world religions, Shakespeare, and philosophy; besides organizing annual Shakespeare Festival; in order to make students “responsible world citizens”.
Not-for-profit John Colet School in Belrose outside Sydney (New South Wales, Australia), an infants and primary school founded in 1985 by men and women studying together at School of Philosophy in Sydney, claims to take the genuine care for the whole child—the academic, cultural, physical, moral and spiritual dimensions.
Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, applauded the School for encouraging children for exploring the wisdom/values of ancient Hindu and other scriptures, teaching of classical languages like Sanskrit, offering mantra mediation, incorporating morality in daily routine, aiding the children to discover Self, vegetarian food policy, etc. Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged educational organizations of the world to provide wholesome education to children to produce better citizens for tomorrow’s world.
In John Colet School, students daily shake hand with teacher as an expression of partnership. As a part of “school behavior”, “boys stand for girls when they enter a room”. School’s Discipline Policy says: “Nothing should be done to the point of boredom”.
At ten years of age children may, if they wish, take up a system of mantra meditation. The school and staff responsibilities include: to aid the children in “Discovering and uniting with God”. Children are introduced to some of the eternal human questions: What am I? Is there a Creator? The works of East and West—the Bible, Plato, Shakespeare, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads—are used as a basis. Its academic curriculum includes memorizing prayers.
The School advocates and teaches the traditional Judeo-Christian virtues. Under “moral education” it points out: “At school the boys and girls are encouraged to relate to each other as brother and sister. Exclusive boy friend/girl friend relationships are not encouraged as they distract from studies and are therefore inappropriate. They also lead to division, rivalry and exclusion.”
In arithmetic, favoring traditional approach, multiplication tables are taught. “We aim for students to understand mathematical problems, rather than using calculators with little understanding”, School stresses. Although school fulfills its obligations in ensuring that the New South Wales primary syllabus is covered in computer studies but believes that the emphasis in a primary school should be on the human interaction between teacher and student, and that concentrating on the computer tool of learning is often at the expense of important long-lasting knowledge.
In accordance with the virtue of harmlessness to all creatures, school has vegetarian food policy which applies to all food consumed at school and on excursions, including hot healthy lunch provided daily where children have a choice of milk or water to drink. Birthday cakes should not contain any meat based products. “As the school kitchen is vegetarian, it is extremely hygienic”, School claims. Before dining, the children say a prayer of thanks together. The School also has a no junk food policy.
If a teacher’s behavior departs seriously from basic standards of moral conduct, such as those embodied in the Ten Commandments, then this may be a basis for that teacher no longer being considered a fit and proper person to remain on staff. Its website quotes from Bhagavad-Gita: “Mind that is peaceful and clear with a heart that is pure” (Chapter 17). Its Shakespeare Festival involves every child and it offers extra classes in chess.
Annual fee is $8,500 in addition to “other applicable fees billed separately”. Gilbert Mane is the Headmaster while Michael Thomas is Board of Governors Chairman. John Colet (1467-1519) was a Renaissance humanist, theologian, and English scholar.