Gandhi felt that the best method of education for children (ok, for everyone) was through personal example. Hence, when children “misbehaved” at the ashram, instead of punishment, he took on a fast because he felt there was something that he must have done to encourage their behavior. When it came time to cook or to clean, adults and children, men and women would join together on the most basic tasks, and Gandhiji would join them. And so it was in the schools, as well– teachers not lording over the students, but working with them. Gandhi noted that this important dynamic made the students feel quite cheerful about the ashram school. And I have no doubt the teachers knew something revolutionary was taking place, too: children not learning submission to a self-appointed authority, but modeling, instead, mutuality and interconnection.
When and where does teaching begin and learning end? Is there a clear line that is crossed by age or experience? In nonviolence, really, there is no clear dividing line. It’s like the in-breath and out-breath: learning and educating (from Latin educare: to draw out).
The next time you do something that you think that a child should avoid, question whether it is something you really want to do, or are doing by compulsion. If it is compulsion, offer yourself a healthy alternative–be it a word, thought or act–to engage in instead. Try it for a day. Try it for a month. Note what happens.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 email@example.com