ABOUT KINDBOOK PROJECT
ON MORAL AND ECOLOGICAL EDUCATION & HEALTH-CARE
The project on moral and ecological education of children and teenagers has begun in 1995 in Russia. Since then 85 books and 8 methodical grants has been published (more than 1 million copies). Here are some of them: The World of Fruit, Wisdom Alphabet, Kindness in Mathematics, The Magic World of Music, Trees Decorate the World, The Mysteries in Professions, Nature through the Eyes of the Soul etc.
Through kind stories, games and creative tasks our books teach the child to understand, appreciate and to love the World of Nature. These books open the door into the Miraculous Country of Wisdom, introduce children with spiritual basis of creativity, develop in them respect for family and feelings of the responsibility.
Hundreds presentations and workshops were conducted. Teachers from more than 3,000 children's organizations use our books in their daily work with children. Sometimes we receive grateful letters from the most remote areas (in Russia) how our books help teachers to develop new vision in their work with children, making the main accent on development of moral qualities of the child. Workshops & lessons conducted with children - click here to preview >>
Especially we are delighted to get response of the teachers working with difficultly trained children (and even children with criminal past). The quotation from one of such letters: “Thanks to the fact that t he materials in your books, which children are going to learn, represented in kind and fascinating stories and fairy-tales , children, whom difficult to guide and create interest in learning, easily get involved in the process of education. Teachers mention, that children became more sensible, have learned to help each other, to find a worthy way out of problem situations. When the story touches the heart of the child, he/she remembers all the details. The creative potential of children grows, children began to write verses, fairy tales, to draw. (Samples of children's creativity and educators' comments - click here to preview >>)
About Authors and Founders of Project 'KindBook.com'
Alexandra Lopatina is an accomplished children's writer.
Born in 1951 Moscow, Russia. She completed Kirov Pedagogy Institute. By specialization A.Lopatina is an educator. At the moment she is the founder of Project on Moral and Creative Education (kindBook.com).
Maria Skrebtsova is a young Russian artist, a poet and an accomplished children's writer.
Born in 1968 in Moscow, Russia. She completed The Moscow State Linguistic University (Moris Toresa) course. By specialisation Maria is an educator and translator from and into French and English.
A.Lopatina and M.Skrebtsova are the authors of numerous children's books and poetry. Their books are in publication since 1991.
MORAL & CREATIVE EDUCATION. ECOLOGY AND HEALTH CONCERN
AWAKENING THE HEART AND SOUL
M. Skrebtsova and A. Lopatina
Spiritual and moral education of the individual. As we begin to think deeply about the implications of these words, it soon becomes clear that the way we approach this task has truly widespread ramifications for society, and for the future of any country. A person's entire life and his relationship with the surrounding world, depend on what he or she learns in childhood and adolescence: to love or to hate, to show compassion or to take pleasure in the suffering of others, to put our heart into our work or look for the easy way out.
Let us take a look at what our children are offered in today's schools by opening a guidebook to educational institutions in Moscow. This is what is written there: "In addition to a broad general education students study computer science, mathematics, English and French… There are computer facilities, a private swimming pool and a sauna…" Here we have the main preoccupations of contemporary schools. Of course, there are other goals as well, such as "developing a physically healthy, independent and well-rounded personality, together with creative abilities…" - but these goals are secondary to the educational goals, and are considered far less significant. In one school, where the basic program was described as "the spiritual and moral development of the individual" we tried to discover what exactly this entailed, but did not receive clear answers to our questions. True, there were smaller classes than usual, and children were not humiliated during the lessons, and were even allowed to leave the class for a rest if they were tired. Yet in answer to our question about how moral and spiritual instruction there differed from the program in standard schools we were told only that all subjects are studied in greater depth.
Regardless, the majority of children, wherever they study, have difficulty assimilating the knowledge presented by their instructors. The result is an absurd situation in which knowledgeable teachers arrive at a school, as do six or seven year old kids who are ready and eager for anything new. And after a short time those children begin to tune out their lessons. This rejection is often reflected back in the teacher's behavior, and in some children, especially in the early teens, grows into an outright hatred of school or even life itself. A substantial proportion of children complete school with nothing more that basic reading, writing and arithmetical skills, and even those may be weak. All of those years of pedagogical effort are thus wasted!
More than once we have heard teachers lament about how difficult their work is, and how parents make no effort to help their children. Nobody will dispute this. Yet where there is enough of a desire, a teacher can always reorganize his or her activities, supplementing them and filling them with inspiration. We recall here the words of a young man who took part in one of our seminars, a student from Novosibirk University:
"I've got absolutely ordinary parents, who always made sure that I was healthy, well fed and clothed, and didn't miss any lessons at school. And when I was little I was an absolutely ordinary child. I remember perfectly the group of kids from our building. We were good kids and sometimes even played games where we secretly helped elderly ladies. And then what happened when we got to school? The teachers didn't teach us to do bad things, of course, but it was if nobody in the school could care less about you. They liked you or hated you depending on how you answered questions in class, never mind what sort of person you were. That's no fun for anyone. As a result, by the 9th grade a lot of us turned into perfect hooligans. I've been in fights, even criminal groups, and I've used drugs, though fortunately I was able to get out of all that, thanks to one wonderful person who became my true teacher. But a lot of my friends have died or are sitting in prison. Now I'm studying physics at the university, and I find the subject amazing. In school I though physics was a dull hammer for beating us over the head with…"
A sort of impenetrable wall is building up between children and their teachers. Teachers spend years of their lives and millions of nerve cells on getting children to assimilate knowledge, while the children make every effort to repulse that knowledge, and resort to squirming out of work and trickery and whatever else it takes avoid lessons they neither like nor understand. Can it really be that humanity has developed its knowledge only to see it wasted on our children in this way?
If we picture teachers as a channel for the transmission of knowledge, then it may be that what flows through the channel is lacking, or it may be that the channel is pointed in the wrong direction.
When, many years after graduating, we looked again at the experience of pedagogues from the past, we found a clear and immediate answer to our questions. PEDAGOGY IS ABOVE ALL THE SCIENCE OF EDUCATING THE SOUL, and if pedagogical effort is directed first and foremost towards this goal, then the imaginary wall between teachers and students will come tumbling down of its own accord, and our children will want to learn.
This is what the founders of pedagogical science taught, and their lives and practical work demonstrate the truth of this assertion.
JAN AMOS KAMENSKY XVII CENTURY
Purpose and goals of the school:
1. To teach wisdom
2. To teach various arts and sciences
2. To teach virtues
4. To teach godliness
Considered religion to be the foundation of education, but understood it in the broad sense of the word. Science is given to humanity for the development of people's God-given abilities. The sciences are essentially spiritual. Yet the most important thing in a school is to develop spiritual qualities and virtues in the students. "He who is successful in the sciences but falls behind in good deeds is failing more than succeeding."
"It was a wise man who said that a school is a humanity workshop.
Nothing should be studied for the sake of school alone; everything should be studied in preparation for life, so that when a student leaves school it will not blow away on the wind.
The world is full of monstrous phenomena which neither governments nor the workers of the church will be capable of eliminating until serious efforts are made to eliminate the root causes of evil. Just as workshops support the trades, churches support godliness and courts provide justice, why should not SCHOOLS COLLECT, PURIFY AND INCREASE THE LIGHT OF WISDOM."
JOHANN HEINRICH PESTALOCCI XVIII CENTURY
Purpose and goals of the school:
1. The primary goal is to develop and strengthen the spiritual powers of the child in the process of acquiring knowledge and particular accomplishments.
2. Development in the child of the capacity for observation, analysis and action.
3. Instruction should be subordinate to the goal of moral education.
4. The relationship between teacher and pupil should be guided by love, and resemble the bringing-up of a child in the family.
5. A school should prepare a person for family life.
"Academic education without that spirit which is necessary to the moral education of a person, and not founded on that which is the basis for family relations, can only lead to an unnatural corruption of the human race.
Teaching should be subordinate to a higher goal, and in particular, to the awakening of the nobler feelings. From the very beginning I would seek to have the children succeed not so much in figures, reading or writing, but rather that, through practicing these things, they should develop their spiritual capacities in general, as usefully and in as many different aspects as possible. "
KONSTANTIN DMITRIEVICH USHINSKII XIX CENTURY
Purpose and goals of the school:
1. To awaken the heart and soul of the child.
2. The primary task is to help the child understand that knowledge is not a goal in itself, but that the most important thing is development of the personality through one or another aspect of that knowledge.
3. To inculcate a love of work.
4. To develop well-rounded views, intellect and the thirst for knowledge.
Devoted a substantial part of every school lesson and every subject to discussion. These discussions develop in the child the capacity to think; the ability to logically express his thoughts; develop memory; the ability to listen; self-confidence; the desire to know more; interest in the person of the teacher and the school as a whole; and receptivity to the subject of study.
"The task of the school is to turn an egotistical heart into an ever-sympathetic heart.
It is essential to stir the mind and heart of the pupil from the very beginning, to impart to him the thirst for knowledge and the thirst for moral and intellectual nourishment, and to accustom him to this nourishment. Only then should we open the books before him and encourage him in further independent progress.
What is the point of teaching history, language, or the multitude of sciences if this knowledge does not make us love the idea and truth more than money, cards and wine, and prompt us to put our spiritual inclinations above the bodily ones? Surely this is not all for the sole purpose of sitting out our years on the school bench and receiving a diploma upon successful completion of the course of study? If that is the case, why do we spend so much time on the acquisition of temporary knowledge, needed only for the examination and after that of no further use in life? In that case it would be sufficient to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, measurement and nothing else."
This list could be extended with the thoughts of many wonderful contemporary pedagogues.
How can we help teachers remember that a person is born in the world to create? How can we help our children develop in themselves these precious sparks of creativity? How can we turn our schools into workshops of wisdom and humanity? In thinking about this we had the idea of seeking to collect in one place all of the greatest accomplishments of the spirit which humanity has so far produced. What, above all, should we introduce to our children, what should we bring into their hearts and souls if not this ocean of spiritual aspiration, which has been recorded for us in the lives and work of writers and poets, artists and storytellers, composers and musicians, pedagogues and philosophers? Do we think there has been a shortage of them in human history? It is for us and for our children that they have sown the seeds of spiritual virtues in their creative work and in their lives.
The first goal of our books is to POPULARIZE THE SPIRITUAL INHERITANCE OF HUMANITY AND THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT in relationship to various subjects, chosen in order to:
a) be close the child and touch the inner reaches of his soul, for example: his own home, family, friends, secrets of the heart, beloved animals, etc.;
b) introduce the child to the beauty of nature surrounding him and teach him about the interdependence of all things, for example: the wonders of nature, stars - the eyes of the sky, flowers, our home the earth, etc.;
c) develop the spiritual qualities of the child: nobility, love, beauty, kindness, smiles, mercy, service to others, love of work, etc.;
d) teach the child to know and feel for the basics of the creative work of artists, musicians, composers and poets.
"Do one little thing better, and not plan a great deed," said the wise man. Thus, even more important than showing or telling the children about these things is what they do after our story: what they write, draw, what they think about and how they act.
Therefore, the second goal that we set for ourselves was to create methodological materials, intended to foster the development of the spiritual and creative potential of the child. Every story, saying or quotation is accompanied by a series of questions, games and activities connected with the child's own life and intended to help him internalize the material.
For example, following the saying, "A tree's strength is in its roots, and ours is in our friends" we offer the following activity for internalization:
Draw yourself in the shape of a tree, all of whose roots are your friends. Use the drawing to tell each other about your best friends.
Following the saying, "The sun shines on people with light, and mothers shine on children with kindness," the children are asked to draw on the board the sun of their mother's love, where each of the sun's rays is one of the mother's qualities, and then to think about what qualities appeared in themselves under the influence of that sun.
In talking with the children about the role of trees in our lives, we suggest that on the way to school they choose one of the trees they see and make friends with it. Over the course of the week we ask them to watch their tree carefully, writing down or drawing all of their observations.
The first time we used this activity with children and collected their drawings into beautiful albums, they continued for a long time afterwards to bring us their stories and pictures. Even in the following school year, when we were talking with them about completely different subjects, they would tell us about their tree-friends: "You know, all the trees are covered in frost today, but mine's got the thickest frost of all… My tree's got a huge, sparkling icicle hanging on it, so bright you have to close your eyes when you look at it. I looked at it up close and it's got air bubbles inside. I wonder how they got in there?"
During the lesson we call "The Pure Voice of Water" one of the children was the water fairy. He was supposed to go around to all his friends and sprinkle them with water from a cup. Whoever he got wet was to say something nice about the water and about the good things it does for people.
After this we divided the children into groups. One group was a sea, another was a river, a third group was a lake, and so on. Each group described its water, without saying its name, and the others had to guess which water they were talking about. We composed stories about the lives of raindrops, and asked the children for homework to write a story about a puddle of rainwater.
There were many activities of this kind, and the children were always happy to engage in them. We remembered this one activity in particular, however, because the next day one boy who came to class late said, "Don't get mad at me for being late. I was walking past my puddle and saw someone had thrown some dirty papers into it. So I got them all out, and that's why I'm late…"
In brief, we have attempted to put together our books in such a way that they will teach children to be observant and to love and understand the world of nature; lead them into the land of wisdom and teach them about the spiritual basis of creativity; help them to be creative in their relationship with the world; and develop feelings of respect and responsibility in relationship to other people.
Some teachers believe that activities of this kind take up valuable time that is needed to meet the minimal requirements of the school program. However, we ourselves and many of our colleagues have found over and over again that the opposite is true: the more attention a teacher gives to the soul of the child, the better the child's mind will assimilate knowledge. Ushinskii, for example, spent more than half of the lesson in primary school on talking with the children, and did not worry that there might not be enough time for the active transmission of knowledge. Here is what he wrote on this subject:
"It is much more difficult to have a discussion with children than to merely heap upon their heads a mass of facts, which an uninterested brain pushes away with all its might. Yet after discussion the child's brain is ready to accept these facts. It creates an appropriate atmosphere for teaching. In order to have such discussions, you must put your heart into it. The mechanical transmission of material does not put any demands on the heart. Do not hesitate to spend time on conversation. In the time that remains the brain will accept and assimilate twice as much."
Letters from many teachers who have successfully used our materials and methodology in their work have, again and again, led us to conclude that the educational process in schools must touch the child with the treasures of wisdom which human civilization has accumulated, and help them internalize from these examples a moral and spiritual relationship to the world. This is true regardless of the subject.
Here are some excerpts from the letters of various teachers who have used our materials in their work:
Penza. School No. 33, elementary class teacher Alla Viktorovna Markova
"… Working with these books, you understand that in front of you are children, every one of whom has a unique a precious soul. And you are impelled to create lessons and activities for them that will leave some trace in their lives… The children's hearts are incredibly sensitive in their reactions to creativity, they open up and fill with light, love, faith, hope and joy. They have become freer in giving their opinions. They try to understand the connections and interdependence between all things in the world. In every thing they look for its own amazing, one-of-a-kind miracle, and in ordinary things they see the extraordinary. I've noticed that they often try to get out of difficult situations in a way that respects their self-worth, they look for the right way out. "
Dnepropetrovsk, School No. 23, history teacher Ludmila Nikolaevna Balaba
"These wonderful books have served me as both methodological and didactic materials. Above all they have been a guide to the vast world of the spirit. Even I, an adult, have been moved to re-examine some of my views.
The children in my classes work with unfeigned interest, prepare seriously for their lessons, and their parents help them a great deal. The books help to create wonderful moments of interaction in the family. The children are learning to see and hear what is beautiful. For them, these lessons are a means of self-expression."
Kazan, "Illumination" independent school, human sciences teacher Marta
"I was endlessly delighted by the appearance of these books in my life. These materials for moral and spiritual education are exactly what I had been looking for! Now I don't get worried over what I can offer the children, because in my hands, and in my heart and soul, I hold these books… The contents of every page sound an echo in me, I can understand them and accept them. And I rush off to share them with the children and with other teachers…"
In pedagogical seminars and conferences we have spoken about the creative work of these teachers, and the work of their children, but often get the response from our audience that they can't work in this way. It's impossible, they say, given the overburdened school program and lack of time. And the demands of modern society are totally different: the children must be made ready to enter universities and institutes.
This is what gave rise to the idea of combining moral and spiritual education and general education into a single process.
Indeed, why can't lessons in one's native language become lessons in beauty, or lessons in mathematics become at the same time lessons in wisdom?
Taking this idea on Moral Education and Character Development, on Ecology and Healthy Food...
Moral education and character development (page 2)