- Why Ethical Education?
We recognize the need for it, we discuss it in meetings, we put it into our Mission Statements, we tell ourselves, our parents and our students that we believe in it, but - in reality - are we simply trending on what is currently the latest educational whim? Let me rephrase that: although we may believe in "ethical", "moral", "right" thinking, we do not consciously, pointedly, teach this behaviour and because we do not, our schools, our communities and our cultures are becoming more aggressive and violent.
- Change can only come about when we recognize the need to change and are then given the opportunity to institute that change.
The need to change our educational system is obvious to many but the inspiration and drive to implement the change is not. We may have ideas on how to change - introducing more courses, or more rules, or more computers, or more programs - but if we do not take a more radical and creative approach to changing the system, we are headed into a great moral and ethical abyss.
- How do we change?
Once we recognize the need for a change, what type of program needs to be implemented and how do we go about doing it? After finishing Meetings With A Dhamma Master, I was asked to write about "ethics" programs and how to begin instituting them into schools: There is a program in Thailand called V Star but that is solely based on Buddhist practices. I hesitated to frame the program in a religious context because I did not want the program to be seen as joined with any "religious" organization. I finally decided to write a story, which is included in this website. The story is called "The Pencil and The Path". It is an imaginary story that follows both a pencil, and how s/he becomes awakened, or self-aware, and how that can change a person; and a teacher, who introduces an ethics program into the classroom. All religions are discussed, much like a survey course, and the students participate in lively and engaging discussions.
- Self-awareness is the initial, internal, step in helping students understand the consequences to their exterior behavior. With this realization, students begin to understand the need to accept the consequences of their actions.
The Pencil and The Path has several components that need to be put in place for the teaching of the curriculum to take place: The self-awareness and educational background of the teacher, the astute foresight of the administrators to pursue this curriculum, the students who take the course, and the understanding and willingness of the parent community to allow ethical exploration. I have addressed each of these components within The Pencil and The Path's full story.
As a note: Students need to understand that they are the only ones who write their history, so they need to be able to independently and ethically manage their lives. This is life-long learning.
- Atta hi attano natho, atta hi attano gato: You are your own master, you make your own future.