An explanation into the education system at the Sri Ram Ashram

By Cecilia Cracknell and Emily McDonald

CeciliaEmilyCSLProject from MRU Journalism on Vimeo.

We went to India not knowing anything about the Indian school system, only knowing that we wanted to focus on education. We weren’t exactly sure what we wanted our project to focus on specifically, but had a couple ideas in mind. We started by finding out more about how the system works, mostly from Rashmi Cole, the resident manager and also a big part of the school. We interviewed some of the ashram kids on their opinions of school, how they thought it could be improved and what they liked about school. After going through all our interviews, visited the Ashram school and had plenty of knowledge shared with us from Rashmi we were surprised to find out how different the system compared to the system in Canada, but also surprised by the similarities. We learned that in both systems children often have to choose their future before they are ready to really know what they want. We learned that students not only learn better but in many want to learn in a practical, hands-on way.

And most of all we learned that children love schools for the friends, community and memories that they develop along the way. In every school system in every part of the world students and parents will complain about their school, teachers and what they study, but we as educators also want to focus on the enjoyable parts of school and the memories that are made in the end. Just like what Radha said in the beginning about school being a place for memories we’ve learned that children love school for many reasons but most of all because school is a community where children get to learn how to grow and share who they are. We as future educators are thankful for this opportunity and have learned a fair amount about the ways in which we plan to take this into our own practice.


Examining Resiliency in the Sri Ram Ashram

By Nicole Glowaski and Jerrica Hebditch

Our service learning project is about the supports at the ashram and how they all help to build resiliency in the children. Resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to successfully cope with adversity. Adversity and stress can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, among others. Adverse childhood experiences are when children go through stressful or traumatic situations which can affect their well-being and can lead to negative outcomes later in life, unless you have the support systems in place that help build resiliency.

Dr. Michael Ungar from Dalhousie University is one of the leading writers and researchers on the topic of resilience and we based our project on his work on resiliency. He has helped to identify the most important factors that influence the resilience of children during periods of transition and stress. So basically, you can actually build resiliency into humans. We wanted to acknowledge that these elements were created from a western Eurocentric perspective so we thought it would be interesting to look at these elements in a different cultural context. Our project was made with our discipline of social work in mind and also for anyone who is interested in child development. As previously mentioned, we talk a lot about building resiliency in children at an early age to help negate adverse experiences. What we’ve taken away from this project is that the supports to build resiliency can look different among different cultures, but the basic elements are the same. We believe that our project shows that the Ashram has all of the supports that Dr. Ungar states that you need in his 9 key elements to build resiliency and invite you to consider resiliency in the projects that follow.

A Family Tapestry

By Michaela Chronik, Jasmine Gilbert, Afope Sanyade and Robyn Welsh

The aim of our project was to explore how the concept of “family” is viewed from the eyes of the children at the Ashram. We explored this by getting the children to draw or take photographs of what family meant to them. It is important to recognize that every individual at the Ashram views family differently, and we wanted to showcase that within our project.

Emotional regulation and child rearing at Sri Ram Ashram

By Sienna Trautman and Ruth Arnett

This video discusses emotional regulation and child rearing at Sri Ram Ashram. Our initial purpose was to discover how children at the Ashram are regulated in an environment with a large family. Going into the Ashram, we had an idea that we would be learning about self-regulation. Instead, our observations showed more co-regulation rather than self-regulation among the children.Our working definition of self-regulation is: independently adjusting one’s emotions to function at an optimal level. Our working definition of co-regulation is: Adjusting one’s emotions with assistance from another person. We found after observing a small glimpse of child rearing in India that co-regulation supports their collectivist society and builds strong relationships. The way of being from our observations at the Ashram includes solving problems as a group, being disciplined as a group, along with celebrating as a group.

In regards to the slapping talked about in this video: punitive norms vary throughout cultures, including in India at the Ashram. Corporal punishment is sometimes used, we also would like to address that these children are siblings and fight, laugh and play as if they are siblings as well.

Creating Relationships Through Creativity Through a Journalistic and Child Studies Perspective

With the idea of using creativity and freedom, our group went with a plan to let the children take the lead in creating a story. As you will see our project runs into many obstacles and is led by the Hindu God Ganesha. Ganesha is the remover obstacles and helps us grow through our project.

Group Members: Ashley King, Debrina DeMong and Jackie Delauw

View the website created for this project here.

The Mural Project: Art as a Transformative Language

By Lauren Lucero

Since 2012, the Mural Project has been an on-going tradition of the Field School by working in collaboration with the Sri Ram Ashram celebrating the long-standing relationship that has developed over the years by the creation of the mural. This website tells the story of the development of the mural and a self reflective evolution.