The Institute of Sathya Sai Education-USA (ISSE-USA) is one of the oldest ISSEs, beginning in the 1990s to provide training in Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV), a programme of character development based on the teachings of Sai Baba. The USA Institute is one of 31 Institutes set up worldwide.

ISSE-USA recently completed five annual residential training programmes utilising the University of California, Santa Barbara as a venue where more than 100 persons have been trained. Participants in the training complete practicums in schools and communities to reinforce their learning and inspire the practice of human values.

Students and faculty from course 1, Santa Barbara, 2015

Partnerships have been established at several school and community locations. Graduates of the course, who are educators, often incorporate their training into standard school curricula without specific education in human values labeling. Below are examples of how the training is put into practice in schools and community.

School and Community – Virginia, USA

For three years Beth Clark has been teaching education in human values principles in a private alternative school for students with a variety of learning and behavioural problems. These students are challenging, yet with patience and persistence, these students began contributing to class discussions and eagerly engage in cooperative activities. Beth goes to school events to meet with the parents and discuss the programme. Teachers and school administrators emphasise their support, and comment that they have seen changes in the students’ behaviour that could only have come from education in human values classes.

Right speech activity

Beth also teaches three other community based classes. The parents are given an SSEHV programme brochure, and are told that the students will receive a “life application” exercise each week to practice at home. The first few classes concentrate on the sub-values most students have trouble with – self-confidence, patience, friendship, helping, and honesty. Key success factors in the class are an emphasis on the teachers as exemplars and unconditional love for the students.

Friendship activity

University and Community – Chicago, USA

Tom Zelle has been including education in human values principles in his music classes at North Park University in Chicago. Ten to fifteen percent of rehearsal time is dedicated to work on human values. The human values work has profoundly changed the atmosphere of the orchestra. Each rehearsal starts with meditation on the light and the Thought of the Week. In the middle of the rehearsal they share or watch a short video clip of inspiring stories. Using the story, they engage in an activity that helps the group experience the value of the week. They then end with silent sitting.

In addition, there is now a university course built on education in human values that is part of a new certificate programme in “Music for Social Change and Human Values.” In this class, the students learn how to implement education in human values in rehearsals, individual music lessons, and the Youth Orchestra programmes.