Secular Ethics in Tong-Len school
Within the Tong-Len School we not only educate the children in academics, we also follow the philosophy of developing the children as a good human being or a moral individual through the teaching of Secular Ethics in Education and now through SEE Learning. The Secular Ethics in Education is being taught in Tong-Len in 3 groups:
The tertiary Students
The middle and high school students
The primary students
The resources being used to teach the Secular Ethics/SEE Learning are new version, Emory old version book and the 2 core books by His Holiness the 14th Dalai lama:
The Three Learning Levels:
Grade 1 to 7: The children in this group are imparted education in Tong-Len school and there are approximately 200 children. They have 6 classes every week, especially for Secular Ethics. Total of 30 sessions of Secular Ethics is taken every month and every evening the senior staff takes classes after dinner on a regular basis. The students receive teachings of Secular Ethics via new SEE (Social Emotional and Ethical) Learning curriculum and my book of Restraint as well as some relevant concept such as interdependent.
Grade 8 to 12: As the children in this group are attending school outside the premises of Tong-Len school they have only 3 classes of secular ethics in a week. Though they also have the evening session of Secular ethics but other than that they have Sunday sessions on the concepts of Secular Ethics. Students receive teaching of Secular Ethics with old Emory version book ‘Secular Ethics in Education’ and My Book of Restraint.
Tong-Len Tertiary Students: This group of children have thoroughly gone through the Emory resource materials as well as the 2 core books of His Holiness The Dalai Lama; ‘Beyond Religion’ and ‘Ethics for the new Millennium’, and AyurGyanNyas book: ‘My Book of Restraint’ as well. At the present the children don’t have any specific sessions, but they study the materials provided by Tong-Len and a test is taken every month to check their knowledge and how they are applying it to their daily life. The students study the Secular Ethics with Two core books: Ethics for the new Millennium and Beyond Religion along with SEE Leaning curriculum and My Book of Restraint.
There are so many activities and learning sessions within Tong-Len and almost every day 2 or 3 secular ethics learning and practical sessions in different areas are being undertaken. Particularly on Saturday they do practical work to demonstrate what they have learned in the school over the week and one of the major activity is engaging with social work; cleaning areas around Dharamshala, cleaning slum areas, building shelters for the negligent, preparing meals for the slum dwellers and etc.
The See Learning curriculum is being intensively taught in the class 1st to 7th grade in the Tong-Len school.
Additional Activities within school community:
Secular Ethics and senior students: The work of the Tong-Len Charitable Trust commenced with the express aim to save children from starvation and death. Early in this work the question of cause was raised. Questions such as what causes this despair?How long can we keep up our aim to feed all these families? How can these people escape these miserable conditions?
After almost two years of deep thought and carefully analysing the painful condition of the slum people realistic solutions came forward. The expression ‘If you give a man a fish he eats for one day: teach a man to fish and he will eat every day became one of the relevant points in the context of the thinking. And so, education was seen as essential to elevate poverty, to stop the root cause of the problems and to provide a key to a positive flourishing future.
Tong-Len decided an education program would be the core of its work and introduced this to slum dwellers in 2004.The reality of sending these children to school was far more difficult than was imagined and presented a huge challenge. Parents found it difficult to understand the benefits of education in changing their children’s life ; and these children also provided sources of income that was not easy to forego. It took months to motivate the parents to allow children to go to school. Days and months were spent waiting eagerly to hear acceptance from the parents.