There are 400 million Buddhists in the world. Buddhists in Australia make up 3% of the population. So why have Buddhists had so little to say about educating youth? And, can Buddhism survive in Australia without educating youth?
Sue Smith in
Buddhist Voices in School answers why Buddhists are reluctant to ‘go public’ on education, and how Buddhism has much to offer the critical area of enhancing the wellbeing of young people. Here she distinguishes spiritual education from religion.
Using case studies of Buddhist classes in primary schools, Smith shows how a community adapted Buddha-Dharma to fit with contemporary education. The book describes how Social and Emotional Learning, inquiry and experiential approaches to education fit well with the intentions of Buddhism.
In these classes students learned to meditate and explored ethics through a lively selection of Jataka tales. Voices from a Buddhist community, state school teachers, parents and also students inform the narrative of this book. It is the students themselves that reveal over time how they have developed calm, focus, kindness, resilience and better ability to make choices through their participation.
The author concludes that the principles and techniques used in this program make potent contributions to current pedagogy. This book will be of great value to educators, academics and all those who have interest in Buddhism and who care about how children are educated.