Since 2002 the SSSIO of Hong Kong has provided financial and emotional support for a large-scale project, managed by the ISSE (Hong Kong) to introduce SSEHV to primary schools in Mainland China. Over 800 teachers from 100 schools have participated in intensive two-year training programs involving face-to-face seminars and workshops, school-based action research and shared classroom observations of good practices. These teachers then share what they have learned with colleagues in their own schools.
The key to the success of the program has been the triple partnership between local teacher-training universities (providing key personnel in the various provinces to monitor the progress), provincial education bureaus (selecting, supporting and encouraging schools to participate), and the ISSE Hong Kong (providing the SSEHV training through regular visits, setting school-based tasks and maintaining ongoing contact). Postgraduate students from the four participating universities assist with the logistics of organising the projects, translation and other administrative duties, and several have completed Masters and PhD studies on aspects of SSEHV. The focus is on establishing a whole-school SSEHV environment, and a rich collection of resources has been developed that includes video clips, lesson plans and additional reading materials that help teachers to enhance their SSEHV implementation continually.
It is important for us to respect the Chinese political ideology when discussing values, but the project participants are excited to find that the five Human Values of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non-Violence are highly compatible with their traditional Confucian values and with the set of 12 Core Socialist Values that all school children are expected to acquire. Due to the importance placed on education in Confucian cultures, teachers in China are under a great deal of pressure to complete the syllabus and for their students to achieve academically, so at first many of them are reluctant to take up a new program that they fear will cause additional work and take time away from their academic pursuits. However, they realise quickly that when they practise the values in their own lives, the students respond positively and that, along with many examples of transformation in themselves and their students, even their classes’ academic results improve over time. One mathematics teacher told us, after three months in the project, that “35 minus 5 equals 45”. What he meant was that if, in a 35-minute lesson, he spent 5 minutes on silent sitting, the improved concentration meant that he was able to achieve 45 minutes’ worth of teaching in the remaining half-hour. This kind of experience gives the teachers the confidence to delve more deeply into the true essence of SSEHV as they realise it is a tool to support them, rather than an “add-on”.
There is no doubt that when the teachers become more consciously aware of practising SSEHV in their teaching and in their personal lives they become happier and more fulfilled. They recognise themselves becoming better people, and begin to realise that their behavior is influencing not only their students but their colleagues and their own families. One teacher described her changed relationship with her class: “Their pardon, forgiveness, loyalty, sympathy, love, selflessness, peace, patience and so on have given my own life more focus and have caused my life to have warmth, forgiveness and love”. Another wrote about her students: “The children have changed from being quarrelsome to peaceful, from liking fighting to becoming loving, caring schoolmates”. Children, too, have reported feeling more calm, better able to handle the ups and downs of life, and more inclined to be guided by their consciences. They are particularly excited about the power of the SSEHV technique of silent sitting. One commented: “It is silent sitting that makes me think about a lot of morals, for example to be honest, to be open-hearted”. Another shared: “Mother said, ‘Child, you have really improved. You should appreciate your teacher’s guidance’. I said with a smile, ‘It is not only my teacher, but also silent sitting’”.
When children have shared what they learn with their families at home, they note changes in their family harmony as well. One child told his teacher: “The change in me seems to have had an influence on my father. Now he will sit down with me and have a conversation, not like before when he always wore a face like a plank and scolded me”. Others reported, “We do not fight any more in our family because of [doing] silent sitting [together]”, and, “Now when my father meets difficulties in his life he can do silent sitting like me – sometimes it really can solve a problem”. These and other reported family outcomes have demonstrated clearly Sathya Sai Baba’s counsel that peace in the individual leads to peace in the family and then in the community. As one teacher wrote, “SSEHV has been like a beacon light, illuminating the children’s paths”.
About the Author:
Dr. Margaret Taplin, is a teacher educator and educational researcher attached jointly to the Institutes of Sathya Sai Education of Australia and Hong Kong. Her particular interest is in supporting mainstream teachers to incorporate SSEHV into their teaching. Since 2003 she has been responsible for developing and delivering training programs for teachers in China and, from 2022, has been part of an Australian team developing an online SSEHV professional development course.
For more information about SSEHV programs around the world, please see The Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV) Global Compendium, published in 2018. SSEHV Compendium