Special Features of the Total Education Program

Nurturing the Spirit of the Child

You can see the spirit of a child when they spontaneously help someone else or when they express their joy in living through their laughter. You see it when they bring themselves into their learning and their interactions or when they discover insights into how the world works. The teachers emphasise these things with the students in their everyday experience at school.

The School’s founder, Vijayadev Yogendra, believed that happiness derives from the life of the spirit — from love and service. For more than 20 years he tried to help the teachers, parents and students at the School understand how to find their true selves, their spirit. This continues to be a central goal of Total Education.

The focus of the School’s approach then is on nurturing the spirit rather than the ego.

How Do We Go About Nurturing The Spirit?

Teachers and parents are encouraged to nurture the spirit of the child by accepting them as they are, right here, right now. Each child needs to experience love and to feel “loveable”. So many children lose this when they join an education system which evaluates their personal worth only on the basis of measurable academic achievement.

Parents need to spend enough time with their children not just a short amount of so-called “quality time” but giving them the time they need.

We have found that, in the end, giving the right attention at the right time and ensuring children’s needs (not greeds) are met, is the best use of parents’ time.

Children also need us to help them accept and experience suffering and to realise they can live through difficulties. This means modelling patience, tolerance, a capacity to suffer, resilience and especially that it’s okay to make mistakes.

Lastly, we need to remember what is is like to be a child — to be silly, to be light, to have a joke. Life wasn’t meant for being miserable or being good all the time.

Signs of Nurturing the Ego

If a child can’t be happy in their own company or they are inhibited being themselves with others (i.e. they feel they have to impress others) or if they have to dominate to feel comfortable, then the ego is present.

If they are only comfortable if everyone agrees with them or if they feel they can’t make mistakes (perfectionism) then their spirit has been suppressed or has not had a chance to emerge and express itself.

You know you’re nurturing a child’s ego when:

  • They can’t accept things not going the way they want.
  • They can’t share with others.
  • They exclude others from their games.
  • They blame others when things go wrong.
  • They can’t accept the consequences of their actions.
  • They need material possessions around them to be happy.
  • They have little capacity to wait for something they want.