Shining the light of yoga on schools – Adapting and accommodating 21st century knowledge to ancient insight by Netia Prema Mayman

Netia Prema Mayman spoke at our recent Instil conference. She has kindly given us her presentation to share. We will break it into sections so you can absorb the most important parts in bits. Be sure to check back every week for the full presentation. Here is the start of it:

“The presentation will cover:

What schools are like in England in 2018, what VALUES may inform this and how we may have arrived at this point.

I’ll go on to look at what children themselves may actually be like.

I’m conscious of the fact that most of you are yoga teachers, and all people who believe powerfully in what yoga can offer young people. I won’t set out to prove what you already know. However, we can explore together the perspective that yoga offers us in schools and how we can, practically, communicate this to the schools we work with or in.

What are schools in England like in 2018 and what values underpin this?

Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of schools, announced in Birmingham in September 2017, ‘British values are not universal values.’ She said ‘Good education takes people on a journey of enlightenment. I got excited about this and wondered what the Ofsted version of ‘Samadhi’ roughly translated as enlightenment, might look like. First I checked out ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’. Samadhi is the eighth limb of Raja Yoga (one of the 4 paths of yoga) and really the outcome of the preceding 7 limbs, ‘Just as the naturally pure crystal assumes shapes and colours of objects placed near it, so the yogi’s mind… becomes clear and balanced and attains the state devoid of differentiation between knower, knowable and knowledge. This culmination of meditation is Samadhi.’

I got more excited. The knower, the knowable and knowledge seemed pretty much central to what schools deal with. This feels a bit different to Ofsted’s stated British Values of ‘democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and tolerance of different belief systems’. Most schools have explicit written values over their own, but need to show also that they are teaching ‘British’ ones. A headteacher told me last week that she had no problem integrating British Values in her curriculum model, simply a problem with them being called ‘British’.

I wondered what ‘universal values’ might look like in Amanda’s next big speech. What might be recommended to lie beneath the actions, beliefs, utterances and moments of enlightenment of school staff and students.

So…I scanned her North East Summit speech in October this year, announcing a new inspection framework, for the word values. If you can find it please let me know… it seems that after only a year, she had decided that attending to universal values was not in her job description.

In the absence of a Chief HMI slamming down the tablets of stone, let’s explore how values may be implicit in English schools…”

We will be releasing the second part of this presentation next week. Join us then.

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