Virtues First ~ An Educational Philosophy
Our not-for-profit organization, Virtues First, is mostly concerned with education. As Gandhi said, If we want to effect real change in the world, we shall have to start with children. We believe this statement, along with countless others who advocate a spiritual dimension in education, requires an approach to education that is virtues and questions based. It calls students and teachers to seek, dialog and explore that which is usually missed in mainstream public schools; including -and most importantly- the spiritual dimension. However you may be wondering how this could be achieved without bringing in religious bias or dogma. But when we look to the essence of all the world religions we find something amazingly congruent and inarguably lauded among them all: The Virtues!
Virtues Education brings the essence of spirituality back into education without having to show any allegiance to any single religion ~ while simultaneously honoring them all. This is a powerful and huge topic in itself. But, to be brief, it is also found that the virtues approach is an extremely powerful method of acquiring the deeper dimensions of an educational topic that mainstream methods find difficult to reach. Understanding and executing a project is one thing, but it usually ignores the third part of an essential trinity: the spirit! Whereas understanding and action are like 2 sides of a coin, it is the spirit behind what we learn that gives the coin its value. For example, one student of piano may be able to hit all the notes, but not read the music. Another student may be able to read the music, but still unpracticed at striking the right keys. Another may be able to understand the music and also hit the notes with great manual dexterity, but still unable to feel and manifest the spirit of the music. And without this component, it doesn't matter how well s/he reads the music or how efficiently s/he hits the keys. Without spirit the music has no real life. As soon as the notes are completed, the sounds are gone and it is as if nothing ever happened. And, like a body without a soul, it cannot even be called music. Furthermore, much of our food today cannot be called food because it destroys more life than it nourishes. And how much more it is when it comes to the food we put into our minds. But with the spirit, the music stays with you. It can even enhance one's mood and lead to good deeds and positive actions the whole day through; and so it goes for real food, and so it goes for real education. It is the drive behind anything we do. To see this in a classroom is truly an amazing thing to behold! And it goes even deeper than being an educational tool. The virtues also help us to process our emotions by enabling us to use our challenges as mediums for unlimited holistic growth. But, this cannot all be explained on this little page. It takes an entire school, and preferably one that is surrounded by a community that is actively working (and farming) with nature's elements ~ and the deeper, spiritual, meaningful dimensions they are meant to cultivate.
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