Hindu-Sikh Trainings in Maryland Provide a Template for Schools Across The Country HPI May14

MarylandHindu Press International

Hindu-Sikh Trainings in Maryland Provide a Template for Schools Across The Country
on 2014/5/5 18:42:36 ( 97 reads )

MARYLAND, U.S., May 1, 2014 (Huffington Post): Over the past few months, the Hindu American Foundation, Kaur Foundation and Sikh Kid To Kid worked with the Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools to implement a three-part training for teachers, involving cultural immersions at Sikh and Hindu places of worship (separate trips), followed by a reflection session designed to improve classroom approaches to teaching about the two faiths. The workshops were a product of conversations between the groups and Maria Tarasuk, the social studies supervisor for the Montgomery County Public Schools, who has long advocated for community-based approaches to teaching about diversity.

Following yesterday’s reflection session, it was apparent that the school district had helped to lay the groundwork for something sustaining in the county, and replicable in other parts of the country. Tarasuk said the experience was “powerful” for teachers. “It helped them connect on an emotional level, not only with the content but with their students,” she said. “Because of that, teachers are going to be much more comfortable sharing with their students. It was a wonderful partnership between the schools and all the organizations involved.”

Over the past month, teachers who attended the workshops (an early April visit to area Gurdwaras, the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation and the Guru Nanak Foundation of America, followed by a visit last weekend to the Chinmaya Mission of D.C.) learned about several commonly misunderstood facts about Hinduism and Sikhism. The Hindu American trainers helped to explain key concepts of Hinduism such as dharma, karma, and moksha, and how they relate to daily practice, including how Hindus worship the Divine. We also helped to showcase the evolution and the development of Hindu history over 5,000 years. The teachers learned, for example, that the Aryan Invasion Theory – long a staple of textbooks – has been debunked (though the Aryan Migration Theory is still popular among many linguists), and that caste is not intrinsic to Hindu philosophy (caste is an Indian social practice).