No one likes being preached to. And yet, schoolteachers have the unenviable task of teaching children morals and values that can help them meet daily challenges and live in the best way possible.
But there are ways that teachers can enliven value-education classes, especially if children are encouraged to question, debate and participate in dialogue. The revised ‘Living in Harmony’ series, brought out by the Oxford University Press, is a useful tool to aid this interactive process.
In a rapidly-changing world that brings new challenges to educators every day, the series underlines that it is not only important to talk about basic values such as honesty and kindness but to also discuss far more intangible concepts such as social responsibility, humanism and endurance.
The revised books for classes 1-8 comprise 84 key values embedded across the books and discuss through stories, poems, activities, posters and art pages.
Values such as friendship and respect for Nature are discussed in the books for primary classes while the books for middle school have conversations on fairness, gender equality and identity. Life skills such as team work and adaptability feature across the series.
What makes the lessons unique is the open-ended nature of the questions at the end. For example, a chapter on India and its diversity shows a picture of two young girls breaking stones with a heavy hammer in a stone quarry.
Students are asked to give names of their choice to the girls, imagine their typical day and think about what the girls would eat and if they would have time to play. The exercise implicitly raises questions on social disparities.
Art pages are a new addition. They show art forms from India such as Warli, Madhubani and Gond, accompanied by a note on the people who make these traditional treasures.
Series editor Mini Krishnan says, “The inclusion of art pages is to develop the power of the artistic and dreamy side of every child, a vital aspect of emotional development”. Teachers’ notes and short lesson plans are available at the end of each book.