Sikh Research Institute Releases Elementary School Curriculum
San Antonio, TX – 29 June 2006. The seventeenth day of June marked the completion of Sojhi’s first elementary school education resource package. Sojhi, a venture taken by the Sikh Research Institute to increase the effectiveness of Sikh education across the globe embarked on a Sikh education reform approximately 18 months ago. Utilizing the expertise of a team of educators, activists and Sikhi experts, the project produced a curriculum package complete with 300 lesson plans, classroom management tips for teachers, and recommendations on administration of Gurmat and Panjabi Schools across the globe.
The 2nd Sikh Education Symposium unveiled Sojhi’s first elementary school resource package for students in Kindergarten to Grade 5 in Washington DC and welcomed its core team and many supporters, project sponsors and well-wishers. The one-day event was opened with the Guru’s word that was brought to the participants by students from the Guru Angad Institute of Sikh Studies, one of the 15 sponsors of Sojhi.
Dr. G. P. Singh, a member of the Board of Directors for the Sikh Research Institute, proceeded to highlight Sojhi by sharing his vision of developing an educational environment that fosters young Sikhs to love Sikhi. This love, he explained, could be cultivated through the inspiration of role models, strengthened by the microenvironment of education: “The completion of the first phase of Sojhi marks a great day for the Sikh community. We have put together a piece of the puzzle.”
The Sojhi core team made up of Harinder Singh, Jasmine Kaur, Harliv Kaur, Naindeep Singh and Simran Singh bring together research, experience and educational background to substantiate the process focused project. The standard-based curriculum was put together by these developers raised for the most part in the United States, currently in their 20s and 30s, and with experiences in Gurmat and Panjabi Schools, Sikh camps, and the teaching system in public and private school settings. As a result, the Sojhi curriculum combines Virsa (Sikh Heritage) and Boli (Language Arts) lessons with teaching techniques that are innovative and hands on. This combination gives Gurmat and Panjabi School teachers tools to bring Virsa and Boli to life for their students.
The curriculum is based on two classes of one hour length each, one in Boli and the other in Virsa, which is intended to be taught for two 13-week semesters for a total of 26 sessions. Each grade level has 52 lessons which provide teachers with resources, step-by-step teaching procedures, and hand-outs for students. The five content areas covered in the curriculum are theology, history, musicology, language arts and personal development. The package contains three folders – Boli (Language Arts), Virsa (Sikh
Heritage) and Prabandh (Management) along with audio and printable resources CDs.
Having had the opportunity to look through the package, Manjot Kaur Jassal, both a student and a teacher said what she liked best was “looking through the binders and that there is a very gradual process in the level of difficulty and density of the curriculum. It doesn't start out that difficult. But as I went through the binder, especially in the virsa book, I noticed what great information this resource really offers students as they advance through the program over the years.”
The lesson plan developers conducted a Boli and a Virsa lesson for the symposium participants. In an attempt to give participants a feel for how they would be teaching in the classroom, the developers conducted the class as they would for a particular age group, combined with an opportunity to discuss strategies and insights.
After attending the Symposium, Ravneet Kaur Tiwana, a PhD candidate studying Education gave the project a green light. "It is great that the Sojhi Curriculum is process-based because it will give importance to the context of each Panjabi School rather than expecting it to be implemented the same everywhere. I think this type of curriculum recognizes both the similarities and variations in the Panjabi Sikh community in America, which is necessary for any successful form of social action."
Dr. IJ Singh, a Sikh author and the keynote speaker at the symposium emphasized that Sojhi was an amazing achievement for the Sikh Community. “This is the first time we have a systemized program with a process,” Dr. IJ Singh said. Symposium attendees Hardeep Singh called Sojhi ‘a phenomenal step in the right direction,’ and Manmohan Singh marveled at the fact that the program goes ‘into the psyche of the students rather than the teachers.’
The Sojhi teams plans to provide teacher training in teacher preparedness and content in the upcoming months to ensure proper implementation of the curriculum. With their first phase nearing completion with these trainings, they have put into motion their second phase for middle school development.
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