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Monday, June 6, 2011

GNH in the Classroom, Experiences from the classroom

‘’It is with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’’
                                                                                             ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY,
                                                                                             The Little Prince

If I am not wrong, in simple words, GNH in the classroom means how I manage my young boys and girls without any conflict and in complete harmony. If the relation I share with my students is that of mutual respect, professional challenge and collaborated harmony, that relation is a happy one. A relation like that will sprout learning so spontaneously that learning would be the most natural and likely thing to happen.

For a classroom to become a GNH classroom there are many elements which should be placed within the classroom. Some of the important are; the physical ambiance of the class, the conducive mental atmosphere that should be created by the teacher, encouragement and reinforcement from the teacher is very crucial, infusing values in the daily lessons, reflecting and linking the lesson learnt to the ten core life skills and a class that allows free thinking or in other words doesn’t reject imagination.

Mental Health of students is very important and realizing its crucial status in perusing GNH, the Ministries of Health and Education have trained focal teachers and these focal teachers are assisting and training their colleagues in making the school a better place for our students. The Life Skills, which are at the heart of the school Mental Health is about Emotional Intelligence. A student who is intelligent and does well in studies will not always do well in life, but a student who is emotionally intelligent will do well in life. Emotional Intelligence includes skills, with which an individual learns how to cope with his or her emotions; it includes self-awareness and impulse control, persistence, zeal and motivation, empathy and the ability to motivate oneself, according to Daniel Goldman in his book, ‘Emotional Intelligence’. He says, ‘these skills can be taught to children, giving them a better chance to use whatever intellectual potential the genetic lottery may have given them.’  This is exactly what the Life Skills are focused on; making our students emotionally intelligent.

GNH in the classroom is beyond the fallacious classroom appearance created by the glossy teaching aids on the walls or a clean classroom or a classroom with disciplined students how only know how to respect their teachers. GNH in the classroom is a free space for Powerful Learning. Powerful Learning is possible when the class management is tolerant of learning through critical thinking and is open to suggestions, in other words ‘critically friendly’.
The other significant element for Powerful Learning is the teaching strategy which should reflect values. There is no need to have separate value classes, values can be taught through subject lessons. However, these two entities can also be seen as one, as their objectives are same; to promote Powerful Learning. A classroom where Powerful Learning takes place is more than the classroom where the conventional learning takes place. Powerful Learning is powerful because the students are equally involved in the teaching because, they critically think, confidently share (their view), energetically argue, and happily learn. When all this happens you are sitting in a GNH classroom.

During a visit by His Majesty the Fifth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty said, ’Learning to learn is the Greatest Education’. Our students should learn how to think; being imaginative and creative are important and what should come after it is more important; that is voicing their thoughts. 

This is where the teacher comes in. Our children are raised to be obedient, and respect their elders, so because of this they do not challenge their parents or teachers and most hesitate to share their views in the classroom or question the teacher. But a teacher can make all the difference, a teacher with the right attitude, motivation, and encouragement for the students can help his or her students learn how to think and learn how to learn.  

Most students who do not voice their answers or views in the classroom, are the ones who need the maximum support from the teacher. With the right attention, encouragement, reinforcement and emotional support they are likely to do as good as any other student in the class room. For this to happen, a teacher is more than someone who teaches, he or she is a friend to his or her students. This rapport between a teacher and his or her students is at the core of happiness in the class room. When such an amiable relationship connects a teacher to his or her students, happiness is the most likely thing to happen in the class room because students learn how to learn on their own by thinking out of the box and getting the platform to voice their opinions without fear of getting criticized or rejected. 
 It makes the job of the teacher livelier as students actively participate in the class room discussion. For the teacher this is job satisfaction and job satisfaction is the key factor in our pursuit of happiness as an individual. A teacher who finds job satisfaction in his or her teaching profession is hundred percent sure to deliver happiness in his or her class room, for he or she is a happy teacher teaching happy students in a happy school, in a happy country.