Comment on an Article by Dr Madhavi Majmudar on Peace Education (SSEHV)
By: Serguei Badaev
Date: March 2, 2005The British Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Institute website posted the above-named article by Dr Madhavi Majmudar, which is actually about the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values programme. Firstly, the site talks about honesty and other human values, so it would therefore be honest to make a clear connection between this programme and Sathya Sai Baba, by telling people who he is. For example that he repeatedly claims to be God Incarnate etc. Though SSB is not the author of this programme and has himself never elaborated it , he is the figure behind it, kept behind the curtain. This indicates there is some 'hidden curriculum' here.
Secondly, the article by Dr Madhavi Majmudar refer in abundance to the publications of the Thailand Institute. The whole Thailand Institute is apparently a small group of 3 people: Dr Jumsai, Dr Judo and Mrs Burrows. I read their publications on SSEHV and have to say that I was rather disappointed. I am not a major specialist in education and psychology but it was clear for me those publications were absolutely ignorant of what has been researched and discovered by in this area before. The concepts were very poorly articulated and mostly were compilations of quotations or paraphrasing of what has been said by SSB in his discourses. All this is quite far from any international pedagogical standards in this field, I am afraid. Unfortunately, Dr Madhavi Majmudar's article shares those same standards.Without going into details here, but I would like to emphasize several points that are common to the whole SSEHV movement and really undermine the creditability of this enterprise, whatever the good intentions there may otherwise be behind it,
(1) SSEHV does not take into account seriously the developmental aspect of the human being, especially the child. It is not based on any expressed theory of moral and spiritual development or possible corresponding pathologies.
(2) SSEHV pays no conscious attention to the problem of the human ego. According to the SSB's teaching, 'ego' should be destroyed. This is a simplistic metaphor which can be very misleading, for every child should form a mature 'ego' in the psychological sense of the word, which is the most common meaning of 'ego' in educational and other psychology. Any disturbance of this process can lead to serious psychological problems which cannot be cured by any amount of 'positive experience' and which would need specialised therapeutic interference.
(3) SSEHV closes its eyes on development of critical thinking in children. The whole attitude to criticism in the SSO as a negative - even 'evil' - thing prevents the natural development of this ability in children and leads to lack of feedback and distortions of facts in any community.
(4) SSEHV does not refer to democratic models of community. The SSO is strictly hierarchical organisation and under its umbrella it is naive to expect justice and human rights to flourish. SSB has stated on occasion that what is needed is not human rights, but human duties. True justice, in his view, is to be left entirely to God, not to mankind. This authoritarian distortion of human values can soon lead to totalitarianism.
(5) Where are those model teachers who should teach SSEHV with love and wisdom? That is, who will choose them? What process will produce them? To my mind the system of SSEHV as it is cannot do so. Nor can the environment alone achieve this. The British SSEHV website itself lacks any sort of forum. There is no exchange of opinions, no discussion of problems, no sharing or support; which also has characterised the Sai Organisation in its rules, regulations and practices right since its inception.