16G in the classroom Down under
Kerri Hewitt has been teaching students in Australia for several years, bringing the 16 Guidelines into classrooms and ethics lessons. Her journey started on a weekend 16 Guidelines course at the Chenrezig Institute, Queensland Australia. Hearing the Dalai Lama speak of how needed secular ethics is in the future, and feeling inspired from her course, Kerri was keen to share what she had learnt with students. Here Kerri outlines her many experiences and future hopes in teaching children about the 16 Guidelines.
I started teaching younger students the Guidelines through Religious Education at Eudlo Primary, using children’s storybooks that I created based on animals having a problem that gets solved. We would discuss the problem in relation to real life experiences; students would draw the animals and then practice the Guideline that week. The following week we would discuss how it went.
I next taught older children at Palmwoods School leading discussions on the meaning of each Guideline using examples, YouTube music videos, and practice cards to take home and try. Then we’d chat about experiences the following week, to be in the chance for a lucky dip prize. I had some great responses from students after these lessons:
“Instead of thumping my brother when he took my skateboard without asking and broke it, I went to my room until I was calm and forgave him, because I knew he didn’t mean to break it.”
At Mount Creek School the Guidelines helped mid-year students who were suffering from bullying and other friendship issues. The Guidelines helped to provide skills in forming friendships as well as coping skills, with students commenting, “I’ve got compassion for her, as she’d not been taught any differently and I can help her by being her friend.”
At the same school a student with challenging behaviour was helped to learn who he is and gain some self control through understanding the cause and effect of his actions, and thinking about how other’s feel ‘in their shoes’. In his words: “I just stopped and breathed into my heart when I was angry and it helped.”
I am also teaching ethics to a couple of students with special needs and learning support with reading, comprehension and writing tasks based on the Guidelines story books.
My ultimate hope is to have all mid-year students learn ethics at all schools as part of the curriculum, to help them with their future choices and to make a happier future.
Yes, this is a big ask but baby steps lead somewhere. Education is where it starts for our future society to take care of each other. Do we lobby our local government or the Education Department, who knows what’s next?