Teaching and Learning at Panyaprateep
Introduction and General Description of Buddhist Wisdom Education
The General Guidelines: fostering knowledge and skills, vision and emotional maturity.
Although the core curriculum (including such subjects as Thai language, English, mathematics, science, social and cultural studies), is stipulated by the Ministry of Education, the guidelines are flexible enough to accommodate the unique concerns of a Buddhist developmental model. Panyaprateep School will, for example, through instruction in nutrition, exercise, time management skills give students the basic foundations to become effective learners. Other foundational skills to be taught will include communication skills , the understanding and intelligent management of emotions, including meditation techniques encouraging mental stability and alertness. On the wisdom side, Panyaprateep will build upon the course developed at Thawsi School, in which the conditioned nature of phenomena is introduced to the students in a simple and accessible way.
One great Buddhist teacher has summarized spiritual life as solving problems. Panyaprateep school will encourage students to look on themselves as problem solvers, and to enjoy the challenge of addressing the issues of the present day, individual, social and environmental. The template for this approach is the central Buddhist teaching of the Noble Truths, namely gaining a thorough comprehension of the problem, removing the causes and conditions for its existence, and applying the correct measures to realize the optimal state secure from that problem in the future.
As the world wakes up to the severity of global warming and the extent to which it is man-made, Panyaprateep intends to emphasize the study of nature and humanity’s relationship to it, as a particular area of excellence. Particularly Buddhist insights into the relationship between our inner and outer world will supplement scientific investigations and analysis, and help to create future citizens ready to deal with the changing nature of the world, and motivated to contribute towards the solution of its problems. As part of this emphasis, students will be able to study such subjects as alternative energy, organic agriculture, natural building techniques and sufficiency economics.
Two of the main pillars of Buddhist Wisdom Education as conceived by Panyaprateep School are well-developed thinking skills and wise attitude. One important way in which these two qualities are connected is that of finding ways to reflect on experience so as to maintain a steady focus on one’s goals. In this way a love of learning and dwelling with truth arises that provides the inner motivation (chanda). It is through the nourishment of chanda , so much more efficient and sustainable than exterior rewards, that makes life time learning a real possibility rather than a slogan.
Teaching Buddhist Wisdom
At a more mundane and practical level, Buddhist wisdom teaches the children the emotional maturity enabling them to make use of their knowledge to create a happy life for themselves and their family and to contribute positively to the society in which they live. It in no way compromises on the work of preparing children to make a good livelihood, but it lets them see that life is deeper and richer than working in order to consume. Buddhist Wisdom Education aims to train people to cultivate a strong but supple mind and the ability to develop life skills such as skillful communication, the ability to work in a team, patience, resilience (the ability to bounce back after disappointments), the ability to manage one’s moods, and to protect the mind from pride, arrogance, greed, hatred, depression, anxiety, and panic. These abilities are being increasingly recognized as being more useful and necessary in the long run to a successful working life rather than having a formal university degree. It’s becoming clear to what extent a lack of emotional maturity and self-knowledge amongst people in positions of authority undermines the advantages that they should derive from a cultivated intellect.
The Four Elements of Bhavana or the so-called Education in four areas.
Underlining the Buddhist education curriculum is the Four Elements of Bhavana or the so-called Education in four areas.
The first two are external:
The first external area entails learning about the physical world in which we live and developing a wise and balanced relationship towards it. The physical world in this context begins with the physical body. Students learn about the body, and how to take care of it. They learn the importance of nutrition, exercise and moderation, how to deal with physical needs and wise cultivation of the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. Furthermore, this area also concerns those elements of the physical world that students have to deal with every day and directly influence their well-being. It includes their relationship to money, personal possessions such as clothes, mobile phones, computers and the internet. Finally, it concerns the ecological aspect to do with the relationship with the environment and responsibility to the well-being of the planet on which we live.
This area of education would thus encompass such subjects as nutrition, physical exercise, sport, biology, time management, computer studies, maths, art, physical sciences, geography, environmental studies etc.
The second external area entails learning about and developing a wise and balanced relationship to the social world. It includes teaching the foundations of Buddhist morality as a scheme for living together wisely with trust and integrity, communication skills, language skills, sociology, history, community service etc.
The two internal areas of education are as follows:
This first internal area deals with emotional development: developing skillful means to reduce and abandon negative emotions, and to bring forth and cultivate positive emotions. It includes strengthening the ability to restrain negative impulses, promotion of the wholesome desire for truth and goodness, patient endurance, resilience and good humour, meditation practices to enhance mindfulness, inner peace and clarity of mind, the promotion of loving kindness and compassion.
The second internal area concerns the development of the wisdom faculty itself, the gem of the Buddhist tradition. It includes training the ability to think with reason and without bias, to think creatively and freshly, to think constructively about one’s thinking, to be able to reflect on experience and learn from it. Ultimately, it means developing the ability to look directly at the way things are free from conceptual proliferation.
These four types of cultivation carried to the highest level result in enlightenment—the attainment of the ultimate peace, unlimited wisdom and compassion. In a conventional educational system, the effort is to create an atmosphere, an environment, a curriculum which are in harmony with the Buddhist path to enlightenment, but adapted appropriately to the needs and capacity of school students.
Buddhist Wisdom Education with emphasis on ecology.
Principles and practice
Panyaprateep School is located in a thirty-three acres of lush green fertile land with spectacular view of the Khao Yai Mountain ranges and with abundant opportunities to learn about renewable energy, organic agriculture, medicinal plants, and project-based activities in the area of design and technology to enable all the members of the School community to find a refuge for oneself and to become increasingly a wiser person. (click here to read an Eco Activities article)
Combining life and occupational skills with academic excellence.
Panyaprateep School teaches life skills in combination with requirements of the occupational world while maintaining academic excellence. Modern day schools tend to increasingly specialize by subject areas hoping to train students to be skillful workers to be competitive in the labour market while ignoring or overlooking the importance of nourishing emotional intelligence and other necessary life skills.
Learning about Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy through eco-friendly based activities.
Panyaprateep School fully embraces the Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy as bestowed to the Thai population by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej since 1999. The philosophy endorses the principle of the “middle path”, “moderation”, “reasonableness”, and “self-immunity”, and suggests concrete methods which may be implemented by the entire population regardless of their socio-economic status for a happier and well-balanced life.
The Specific Curriculum at PPS: an integrated and wholistic approach to teaching and learning.
1 ) Language of Life: the Thai language
A key objective is to create understanding of the origin of the Thai language to explore the intertwined relationship between language, cultural root and traditional Thai wisdom. We intend to enable the students to clearly appreciate the intrinsic value and the beauty of the language which would in turn cultivate the inner desire (chanda) and wisdom to communicate one’s thoughts, knowledge and feelings effectively, correctly, elegantly and for real benefits.
Students will learn about the root of Thai culture and traditional wisdom through study of the Thai grammar. They will learn about pattern of word creation, and poetical structure through study of literature, songs, art, drama, role play. Students will be actively encouraged to master the use of the Thai language and be able to communicate effectively.
2 ) Mathematics
Maths for Life
Maths for Life enables the students to generate creative thinking while maintaining mindfulness. They will learn to have clear thinking, to think rationally, and systematically. They will be encouraged to analyze problems and situations carefully. They will be able to use mathematical method to understand a system, a pattern and rules of nature. Students will learn to apply their acquired knowledge as a tool to study other subjects, including the ability to anticipate, plan, decide and solve problems in their day-to-day life.
Students will study the logic of patterns and rules concerning numbers, shapes, structures, areas and transformation that are designated through symbols system. Students will learn about development of mathematical thinking, theoretical basis. They will receive training in the use of mathematical tools and methods, the application of mathematics in general subjects and in daily life.
3 ) Science
People, nature and technology
The science subject intends to create understanding of balance in life. Students will learn to understand the concept of science and technology in such a way that they can see the relationship between science and Buddhism as a union. They will also study about problems stemming from the so-called progress in science which views “human beings as big bosses over nature”. They will also share in the effort to find solutions to problems with full conscience of the necessity to live together between human beings, and the natural and social environment.
Students will learn about concepts, theories, scientific rules from the smallest unit to the universe starting from studying about oneself both body and mind in a wholistic manner. They will explore the relationships among various elements which are interconnected, analyze components of living beings, their development, including technological development in modern day life. Emphasis will be placed on practice of necessary skills in scientific method, training of a scientific mind in the search of knowledge, problem solving, the realization and understanding of natural phenomena both inside and outside of oneself.
4 ) Social, Religious and Cultural Studies
People and Society
The subject intends to create understanding about human beings, their livelihood, their interactions with the ecological system, both natural and social. The students will be encouraged to reflect by themselves and lead a life full of mindfulness, their actions aiming to strike a balance between benefits and happiness for themselves and others, and ability to solve problems of their own and of the community they live in.
They will explore the relationship between human beings and all surrounding elements from the past to the present time, investigating the beliefs, thoughts, development of wisdom and creative power. The students will examine the methodology of analysis and research which reveals causal factors and conditions. They will have ample opportunities to analytically express opinions and commentaries regarding emerging social phenomena and other pressing problems facing humankind. The method of “wise reflection” or “yonisomanasikan” will be used to train the students so they can reflect critically, creatively and wisely.
5 ) Health and Physical Education
Human beings, their body and mind
A primary objective is to encourage the students to learn about the functioning and the potential of their body and their mind. The students will examine causes and conditions and explore goals and methods to take care of their own physical and mental health to keep the right balance.
The course will study the growth and development of human beings, focusing on the acquisition of knowledge, attitude, moral value, tastes and preferences concerning the care of human body and mind in daily life. The students will be trained to participate in social activities, physical exercises, sports, individuals and otherwise, national and international. They will be taught the necessary preventive health care and create self immunity from physical and mental harm.
6 ) Art
People and visual art, music and dramatic art
This course intends to teach the students to know themselves and others through expression in art. We will train the skills to appreciate the natural beauty, the ability to communicate the feelings, thoughts and ideals through creative art. The students will learn to develop thinking skills, creative communication, and enhance their own ability to create work which is valuable and beneficial to oneself and society.
The students will be guided to study their own emotions, thoughts, and ideals of the “world inside” of themselves, which will be transmitted through works of art in various fields including painting, musical art, wood carving, and pottery etc. They will be stimulated to think rationally, learn the necessary techniques and tools to create works of art using diverse methods.
7 ) Employment, Occupation and Technology
People and Right Livelihood
The course aims to impart the skills necessary for work, to create good attitude toward work, to have moral values, and wise habits ( ทำ link กับเว็บทอสี ภาคภาษาอังกฤษ เรื่อง คุณธรรม ๑๒ ประการ12 wise habits อาจแทรกรูปที่นักเรียนวาดที่สื่อถึงคุณธรรม ๑๒ ประการภาคภาษาอังกฤษ) such as not harming, put forth effort, patient endurance and honesty. These habits, once carefully formed, will help the students to be their own refuge. They can provide assistance to other people and can live happily in society.
The students will be guided to study the work procedure and management in a systematic way. They will learn about the role and functions of leaders and followers. They will be exposed to situations where they have to solve problems arising from course assignments. They will learn to develop creative thinking, practice skills in design, work with strategy and use limited resources efficiently. They will be encouraged to experiment with various technologies, relying on traditional wisdom, and information technology.
8 ) Foreign Languages
Language of life: Foreign Languages
The course will train the students to learn the skill to communicate in a foreign language. They will be trained to be able to truly understand and accept the differences of nations, religions, and cultures. The students will be guided to develop their potential to think creatively and to be able to screen information for productive use. They should be able to wisely select valuable knowledge from other cultures apart from learning the linguistic skill.
The students will learn the selected foreign language and their culture. They will train the necessary skill, study the behavioral pattern, choice of words, idiomatic expression as is culturally appropriate. Foreign language learning will take various forms such as study of the grammar through literature, learning the language through songs, art and other media.