Consciousness and Classroom Composition

By Nitai Deranja

Anyone who has taught for a few years has experienced strong fluctuations in the behavior of different classes. In some groups the overall energy is focussed, cheerful, and harmonious. In others…well, not so much. Education for Life accounts for these differences from the perspective of Progressive Development. When the prevailing consciousness of a class is light, there will be an overall feeling of upliftment and even joy; qualities that will be missing when heavier consciousness predominates.

We can combine this insight with another key dynamic of childhood: the tendency for younger students to look up to those who are older and use them as role models. Our goal then is to set up our classes so that the oldest students are those who express higher consciousness. For example, if you have a 10 year old girl with Light consciousness, you would arrange your grouping so that she is among the eldest, rather than putting her with 11-12 year olds with lower consciousness. A sensitive teacher can then work with these older students to help the entire class. Conversely, it would be wise to place students who primarily express lower consciousness in classes where they are among the youngest, thus providing them with the opportunity to have role models that can help bring out their higher potential.

In order for this approach to work, the teacher must be able to identify and support light consciousness. A first step is to differentiate it from obedient behavior which can be motivated by the desire for teacher approval or fear of punishment. Light consciousness, in contrast, has the goal of helping others without the need for personal gain. The teacher’s role is to find ways to integrate the original ideas coming from these students into the class activities, even if they might not initially align with the lesson plans of that day.

In utilizing this approach of Progressive Development, it will become appropriate and even necessary for the teacher to provide different guidelines for students manifesting various levels of consciousness. Light consciousness benefits from the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice, while heavier consciousness requires more structured approaches. To avoid the pitfall of seeming unfairness, we can use experience as the basis for setting up different standards. For example, the teacher can announce a clean up time and then record who volunteers and who shows that they need support to stay focussed. Again, in math class, time can be set aside for studying with the teacher noting those who are self-motivated and those who require more structure. These observations can be shared with students who ask for an explanation for the different guidelines, thus providing a possible motivation to become more self-directed.

When classrooms are aligned with this direction of Progressive Development, teachers will have a much better chance of retaining their sense of joy and purpose. Everyone then, will have the best opportunity to work at higher levels of consciousness.

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