Rose Neal is the director of Living Wisdom School here in Beaverton, Oregon. Here, she writes about a recent experience on a school field trip.
I recently accompanied the 3rd-7th grades on a service learning trip to the Vedanta Retreat in Scappoose. One of our preschool families lives there and was kind enough to offer us a tour. During our visit, Megan, our host, was explaining a concept to the students and referred to the blog post about the rangoli activity (making a mandala and then destroying it the same day) and how it could be seen as an exercise in the practice of non-attachment. When Megan brought up the blog post and “non-attachment,” the students looked my way in puzzlement.
Later, I explained to Megan that EFL holds experience as the primary learning tool. The explanation of an activity’s purpose is secondary and often is not needed; such was the case with rangoli.
Usha, when asked in a recent interview about how EFL prepares students for dealing with life’s ups and downs, explained, “I’d say it is by creating situations and tasks that give them opportunities to practice the life skills they need, and by helping them to reflect on, and learn from, their own experience.” This experiential approach differs from traditional education and although not unique to EFL, it is a core practice in our teaching model. What else is central to Education for Life? Concepts such as progressive development or specific gravity, the tools of maturity and a holistic curriculum create an educational framework to support the growth of an individual toward a balanced, happy, successful life.