Thanks to one monk’s vision during the 15th century, a training institute for teachers is encouraging more effective and thoughtful methods of education. Discover the roots of the Pyinya Sanyae Institute of Education and find out more about the women who run it.

A Passion for Gentle, Well-Rounded Education

Long ago, a monk named Nicolas Barré was devoted to helping families who were underprivileged and struggling for survival in Amiens, France. He was unable to do all the work himself, so he recruited a pair of distant female relatives to help him. Gradually, he trained them to communicate in a “humble, gentle and simple manner so that even the youngest could understand, and they were to teach only what they themselves had adequately grasped.” The women had the responsibility of providing some level of education to the impoverished children of the area. They taught math, reading, writing, and the Catholic catechism.

Soon, other women joined the group. They were not officially nuns, since taking official vows would restrict them to a cloister and prevent them from working among the people; but they were a religious group, a tightly knit sisterhood with a shared goal of kind, gentle, and effective education. They were called the Infant Jesus Sisters.

The Founding of the Pyinya Sanyae Institute of Education

Nicolas Barré’s mission, begun during the 15th century, extends into modern-day Myanmar, where two women have founded the Pyinya Sanyae Institute of Education (PSIE). One of the founders is Sr. Grace Chia. Working with Jacinta Cardoza, she strives to carry out the same principles of the Infant Jesus Sisters.

Teaching the Whole Child

Education, she believes, goes beyond facts in a classroom. It involves teaching the whole child and caring for the child’s mental health and emotional wellbeing in addition to the training of the mind and memory. “Holistic education recognizes the child as a physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual being,” says Chia. “And so the training curriculum has to help the trainees develop all these aspects in themselves and in their teaching.”

Chia and Cardoza are tasked with training the teachers that work in Catholic boarding schools in Myanmar. In addition to support from the Catholic Church of Myanmar, the teacher-training programme also relies on help from members of the National Institute of Education in Singapore.

A Better Way to Educate

Instead of using the systems of rote learning and examination-focused teaching, the training programme is designed to help teachers meet the real needs of children. The young teachers-in-training at PSIE are encouraged to celebrate children’s birthdays and feast days so that the kids feel special. They are taught to have meditation sessions with children to aid focus, and to provide centres or Learning Corners that stimulate thought, creativity, imagination, and discovery. The teachers-in-training also learn how valuable art therapy can be for children who have been bullied, repressed, abused, or traumatised in some other way.

Art Therapy for Kids in Singapore

Similar training programmes could benefit the educational system within Singapore, helping children with mental health issues succeed in school. Another way to help a struggling or traumatised child is to seek professional help at Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic. We have Singapore psychiatrists and psychologists who are specially trained to help children work through trauma and other issues and develop healthy coping mechanisms and positive thought patterns. Call today to find out more about our art therapy programmes and other available treatments.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Global Sisters Report, 1 August 2017