A call to fundamentally reconfigure educational systems so that students can reach their full potential as responsible world citizens.
In this impressively researched work, Vevaina (English/Univ. of Mumbai, Bernice Banana, 2011, etc.) argues that educators must encourage students to peer inward and outward simultaneously, embracing individuality while also exploring interconnectedness with their surroundings—both immediate and global. According to the author, children should start learning about the power of language and the assignation of meanings at a very young age. Likewise, they should engage with authentic multicultural materials, including the study of a second language. In order to achieve a balance among different types of intelligence (rational/serial, emotional/associative, and spiritual/unitive), Vevaina recommends classroom use of poems, stories and myths. The only chapter that’s not entirely convincing addresses the work of Jean Shinola Bolen, who employs Greek mythological figures to create archetypes that represent certain personality traits, strengths and difficulties. Vevaina deflects any criticism of this approach and believes it’s a useful tool for understanding patterns of child behavior rather than an infallible guide, but some readers may prefer more concrete ideas like those in the final chapter, “Walking the Talk.” Here, for instance, the author demonstrates how her vision can be implemented to teach the concept of angles. This lesson plan includes a helpful assessment rubric and extends beyond mathematics to embrace science, nature, art, architecture, sports and cuisine. Overall, Vevaina displays a wide range of knowledge. Quotations of supportive material are well-chosen and illustrative yet sometimes overwhelming in their sheer volume. The result is a dense text that may hinder some readers. When Vevaina writes in her own voice, however, the prose is clear and persuasive: “If we pour fresh, deliciously flavoured milk into a pot which is full of curdled milk, it will surely curdle.” In other words, creative ideas alone will not make the required changes; a structural reconsideration of current educational norms and practices is necessary.
An inspiring blueprint that merits further elaboration.