Excellence in each of the five domains of human personality: Love, Truth, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-violence
Who are we?
We are a world-wide group of citizens – teachers, scientists, businessmen, lawyers, parents, psychologists and concerned others – who believe that unless our present civilisation regains its moral compass, we are on a fast track to an ecological and humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.
Each one of us has a long history of involvement in reformist education that gives equal or more weight to the development of both moral and performance character (good and smart) in our mandatory school system. As the 14th Dalai Lama has said:
It is vital that when we are educating our children’s brains we do not neglect their hearts.
Some of us have as their guide and mentor the visionary educationist, Sathya Sai Baba, who has been establishing free schools and universities worldwide that do not neglect the importance of moral education. He said:
What is the use of acquiring high education if one is found wanting in virtues? What is the value of such education? What is the use of ten acres of barren land? Instead, a small piece of fertile land is good enough.
We are honoured to have as our Senior Advisor the foremost researcher into values education worldwide, Emeritus Professor Terence Lovat at Newcastle University, Australia, who wrote in his 2006 book, Values Education. The Missing Link in Quality Teaching:
Values Education is premised on the power of the teacher to make a difference….by engaging students in the sophisticated and life-shaping learning of personal moral development….
I suggest that the nature, shape and intent of Values Education has the potential to refocus the attention of teachers…on the teachers’ capacity to form relationships of care and trust, and so establish a values-filled environment and, along with this, to teach about those values and so promote in students a commitment to live by those values and to build a society where justice and respect are assured.
Why are we here?
We believe that there is a manner of thinking, feeling and behaving that is truly human, in the same way that a bee behaves exactly as a bee must, as does a tree, a fish, lion, star and insect. If a critical mass of us can transmute all of our negatives into the flowering of our innate human excellence, the tide will be turned and peace without measure will saturate the world.
It is realistic to accept that most of the adults in the present-day world are unwilling or unable to change – to become more compassionate, selfless and open-minded – and it would be wrong to insist that they do. If we try to bend a fully-grown tree, it will break; however, a young sapling is readily able to take on a new form. It is for this reason that our primary focus is on the education of the children, for they are the parents, citizens, artisans, businessmen, lawyers and politicians of the future. If they can complete their schooling with a commitment to remaining compassionate and humane, with spontaneous sympathy and regard for all beings flowing from the heart, and with an eagerness to serve society rather than be preoccupied with their own acquisitive aspirations, then, we believe, a new era of world-wide harmonious relationships will be born.
What can we do?
Our children, our students, are the future of our society. Given that most adults appear to be unable to change, how are we to ensure that the civilisation our children will inherit can evolve into one that is truly human, mutually-caring and respectful of the natural environment?
It is our conviction that our present system of education will need to give a much higher priority to the development of good character than it does at present. We are all products of our home and schooling, and so too will the cloak of virtue that our children wear be determined in large part by the way in which their teachers and parents think, feel and act.
The essential catalyst that will allow the young to aspire ever-upwards towards being good and true is that we, the concerned adults, take as our own the words of Mahatma Gandhi:
Be the change that you want to see in the world
That is, if we can have the courage to shed our ego-skin again and again, so as to rediscover our own human excellence, our young ones will be inspired to emulate us. They will build a strong moral compass for guiding them unerringly through life’s challenges, tribulations and joys.
They will remain dedicated to emulating their teacher’s noble example of humanness that has so inspired them during their school days; and they will feel impelled to climb the same mountain of goodness and truth that has been scaled by one or both of their parents.
We believe that there is much that we can do, for each one of us lives inside an extraordinary biological, biochemical, neurological machine that can be reprogrammed to reach for the stars within ourselves. In this way we can inspire and teach our children to become both good and smart to their highest degree.
We have coined the term Human Values Education to describe a form of character education that rests upon the following foundation principles:
- The five Human Values of Love, Peace, Truth, Right Conduct and Non-violence embrace all of the human virtues, and lie within each one of us in full measure, equivalent to that displayed by the greatest saints and sages known to history.
- The ideal outcome of education is for the student to manifest all of the Human Values at a personal level of excellence, this being the sign of good character.
- Above all else, the most important component of Human Values Education is that the teacher (and, ideally, the parents) be engaged in an ongoing, fearless process of becoming an inspiring example of all five of the Human Values in their every thought, word and action.
If we truly believe that a priceless diamond lies under the surface of a mountain, there will be an impulse to search for it, to bring it to the surface. This is how it must be when we elect to teach our children about Human Values – we will be looking always for the ‘diamond’ in them.
And, once we realise that a dry log of wood can only become aflame by placing it next to a log that is already blazing fiercely, we will seek to become that blazing log that can set our students afire with the urge to live according to the five Human Values.
Our children are waiting – waiting for us to show them how to live. They are yearning – yearning to be recognised as embodiments of Love, Truth, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-violence. They are hoping – hoping that we can so perfect ourselves, that they might more readily become perfect themselves.
Where to begin?
With this goal in mind – a revolution in education – we have established the Australian Academy for Human Excellence, a division of the non-profit Centre for Human Excellence (Australia). The work of the Academy is to remind teachers of the nobility of their profession and awaken them to the momentous task in front of them, for the future of our society is in their hands. The challenge for them is to so transform themselves that their students will be inspired towards manifesting their own human excellence – their true beauty, love, power, serenity, compassion and exquisiteness.
“You have a treasure within you
that is infinitely greater than anything
the world can offer.”
— Eckhart Tolle
The Academy for Human Excellence has explored the history and international research into what is generally known as values education, moral education or character education, culminating in the publication of our seminal work, Handbook for Teachers in Human Values Education: Scientifically-grounded Teaching Strategies for a Meaningful Life.
The Handbook contains the basic material required for the understanding and practice of what we have termed Human Values Education: that form of education which aims to bring forth from within – in both teacher and student – the innate love and wisdom that defines our true nature as human beings, our Peaceful Mind, Open Heart.
Where to begin? Teachers – hundreds and thousands of teachers – will need to be made aware of, inspired by and trained in Human Values Education. That is, our challenge is to remind teachers that theirs is the most honourable of all professions, for they are the moulders of character (whether intentionally or not) in the future citizens of our society. Our task is to invite them to set out on an intrepid journey in self-transformation so as to become inspiring role models (for the students) of the five universal Human Values of Love, Truth, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-violence.
“Try not to become
a man of success
but rather to become
a man of value.”
— Albert Einstein
An equally important task for the Academy for Human Excellence is to offer training to parents so that they too can aspire towards human excellence – in both moral and performance behaviour – for the sake of their children.
Having explored the research into parenting, and believing that the principles of Human Values Education apply equally in the home situation, the Academy for Human Excellence has made available its second book, Mindful Parenting for a Meaningful Life: A Workbook for Parents.
As with the training of teachers in Human Values Education, the challenge of encouraging and guiding parents towards becoming inspiring role models of good character for their children is truly immense. Those who offer the advice and training will themselves need to become shining lights of unshakeable equanimity, selflessness, wisdom and unconditional loving – otherwise, why would any parent want to spend time learning whatever it is they have to offer about parenting.
“There is no single effort more radical
in its potential for saving the world
than a transformation of
the way we raise our children.”
— Marianne Williamson
One further duty of the Australian Academy for Human Excellence is that of training aged care workers to love and serve each one of the elderly in their care with joy and compassion. Allied to this is the call to offer training to all individuals in rediscovering the true Self, that inner Beingness that does not fear aging and dying. To assist in these endeavours, the Academy has made available its third book, Handbook for Rediscovering Authentic Happiness in the Closing Years of our Life: Research Findings in Neuroscience, Positive Psychology and Mindfulness for Embracing the Path of Aging.
What do we do?
We encourage students, teachers, parents, those caring for the elderly and infirm, and all other concerned citizens to strive towards living the five universal Human Values which are:
- Love – Use caring and respectful words; develop compassion, kindness, generosity and greatness of spirit; care for our environment, each other, and ourselves
- Truth – Speak honestly and confidently; develop the power of reason, intuition and a sense of inquiry; recognise the Oneness of all humanity, all life, all of creation
- Peace – Develop self-respect, calmness, patience, forgiveness, and self-control; value others; move without hurry
- Right Conduct – Develop integrity, determination, perseverance, cleanliness, punctuality and respect for the laws of society; be true to the conscience
- Non-violence – – Refrain from hurtful thoughts, words or actions; practise forbearance, cooperation, gentleness, consideration, respect and tolerance towards others; limit desires and have respect for Nature.