Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Gandhi Experiment

Could you imagine a peaceful world? Gandhi could. Margaret can.

The Gandhi Experiment Book CoverThis educational resource explores ways in which teachers and parents can assist teenagers to experiment with peaceful and non-violent choices and actions through a range of mindful activities and lessons.

‘The Gandhi Experiment – Teaching Our Teenagers How to Become Global Citizens’ is a short, easily digestible book that has been developed to suit flexible learning situations. Some chapters can be completed in one session, while others focus on overarching concepts that can be taught over multiple lessons. Each chapter is full of tools and strategies for peace building that are easily adaptable according to context.

Gandhi, an activist, peace builder and household name to most, was the inspiration that drove Margaret to create ‘The Gandhi Experiment’, a social enterprise with the courageous goal of creating world peace through education. With over 30 years’ experience as an educator, Margaret believes that teenagers will be the most altruistic people if they are given engaging and positive opportunities for change.

The idea for the book came about in 2014 after Margaret had spent some time, on two separate occasions, in India attending educational conferences. On the first trip she realised ‘you don’t need to start a new movement; the movement is already out there. You just need to encourage it to grow’. While The Gandhi Experiment is not a completely new way of thinking, it is a project that aims to get people away from experimenting with war and violence and to start experimenting with peace and non-violence.

One part in the book that resonated with me was Margaret’s account of being in an aeroplane. While being surrounded by a multitude of people from different ethnicities and religions, she had this realisation: ‘With all this “difference” aboard this plane, why weren’t we at each other’s throats? Like in the movies? Instead we sat quietly, respectfully. Does peace only exist in certain contexts?’ This comparison to a very familiar situation convinced me that if peace can be attained here, it should be possible elsewhere.

Throughout the book, Margaret is able to get Gandhi’s ideals and principles across in a way that is suitable for teenagers. Each chapter has a step-by-step guide to help the teacher or parent work through the main idea presented, so the teenager gets a ‘a-ha’ or ‘light bulb’ moment which helps them to critically think and understand the ‘WHY’.

The beauty of this book is that it can be used in many ways and it is adaptable to each group or classroom. It encourages readers to draw on and share their own experiences and knowledge to form activities. The book is also full of relatable and relevant examples of world issues and real-life stories. The many questions allow students to explore issues that affect themselves and others, and will suit a diverse range of learners.

I would recommend this resource to any teacher or parent who is looking to give teenagers the opportunity to challenge their own views, make conscious choices and focus on positive change.

It may just be the answer to the change we want to see in the world. Or at least the catalyst for your own change and those you teach. – Ruby Nelson-Will

  • ‘The Gandhi Experiment – Teaching Our Teenagers How to Become Global Citizens’ is being launched on Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at Armagh in Toorak, Victoria. The book is available from Readings in Hawthorn, and via the The Gandhi Experiment website.