One school in India implements the Greater Good Science Centre's research based practises in order to ensure well-being. This is explored in What A Greater Good School Looks Like by Vicki Zakrzewski at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_a_greater_good_school_looks_like. Indian students often find it difficult to cope with academic pressure, parental expectations as well as social and economic obstacles. Consequently, in India, teachers are aiming to lessen the impact of these struggles through practises of gratitude, self-compassion and mindfulness.
A School Psychologist Anam Zaidi led a team that developed these projects took photos and wrote up descriptions of these activities:
A Safe Place Just For Students
An outdoor space into a place where they could express their emotions and take care of their well-being. Senior students spent seven days engaging in creative activities with the assistance of younger students:
- Painting fence posts, rocks and old tires
- Creating signs with inspiring quotes
- Planting flowers and saplings
- Bridged the gap between social classes
The Garden Of Kindness
When a student participates in an act of kindness, they plant a seed in the garden of kindness. Anam said "now they're looking for a reason to be kind so they can plant a tree. It motivates them to be kind, but it also helps them feel good about themselves".
The Let It Go Pond
Students write something that they would like to let go on a pebble and drop it into a pond where it go into the pond where it disappears. Anam believes "each emotion has in itself to change oneself. The pond is a symbolic way to help students realise that the power to improve lies within."
The Tree Of Silence
Students are given a place for introspection and meditation, away from the many conflicts one can face. Anam agrees students are able to "reflect upon their actions by observing a moment of silence. I've also sen kids just come and sit there".
The Tree of Self Forgiveness
Students fill out a piece of paper in the shape of a leaf that reads 'I forgive myself for…' and hang it on a tree. Due to the way Indian society views forgiveness, self-forgivness is more important than the forgiveness of others. Through the "concept of learning to forgive yourself first, one might forgive others in a more compassionate way." This allows students to accept themselves and boost their self-confidence.
The Gratitude Tree
Students write on a piece of paper something they are grateful for and place it in the box, highlighting that there is "always something we can be thankful for
Admitting mistakes is a difficult task for Indian children as it means coming to terms with imperfections. Self-compassion gives students opportunities to acknowledge their authenticity by addressing the parts of themselves they don't feel good about. For one month, younger students practised a self-hug at the end of each day and reminded themselves that despite the encounters they had, a Divine Spark remained within them.
Giving students the chance to share their inner lives with each other in a non-compulsory way created a more cohesive community. Hearing what students from different social classes are grateful for allows them to realise that they are not that different from each other. Students expressing gratitude to their teachers allows strict teachers to treat students with more kindness and exhausted teachers become more enthusiastic. Allowing students with the time and space to improve their well-being through gratitude, forgiveness, silence and other practises that affirm their humanity. Anam has provided what all children desire: recognised and valued for who they are.