Written by Wendy Wang
Translated by H. B. Qin
Edited by Diana Chang, Ida Eva Zielinska
The Tzu Chi Education Foundation’s Character Education Team aims to develop good character in children through an age-appropriate and lively teaching style that integrates Jing Si Aphorisms into formal education.
In the past, the Character Education Team went to public schools every two weeks as scheduled to conduct character education sessions. However, due to the pandemic, U.S. school campuses were closed, and students had to learn remotely through the internet. Therefore, the Character Education Team has developed online self-learning courses so that children can continue to receive character education without interruption.
The Character Education Team went ahead and designed distance learning courses for 11 character-related themes. Once the first module was complete, the team conducted an online demonstration for Tzu Chi volunteers worldwide. They surpassed the limitations of in-person training and spread Tzu Chi’s character education to more places while helping teachers understand how to implement the teaching module.
Lawrence Luo, Director of Tzu Chi Education Foundation’s Office of Character Education Development and Promotion, was impressed with the team’s efforts to harness the far-reaching internet as a powerful tool for spreading the seeds of good character through education.
For example, the online self-learning course designed for the theme of “Love and Care” focuses on hands-on activities for children while providing this instruction: “Bear love in your heart and act with love.”
The course design follows Tzu Chi’s five-step Jing Si Aphorism learning method: experience, storytelling, reflection, still thoughts, and practice. The one-hour course is lively and exciting, with emphasis on the interaction between teachers and students. The activities and assignments are designed to guide children to get close to nature and help them understand that the earth provides necessities and food that people need daily, thus teaching them to cherish the planet and its natural resources.
“The beauty of the online modules is that all the content is pre-recorded, and students can learn the courses on their own schedule, which will not conflict with their regular schooling time,” Luo elaborated. “Furthermore, teachers can leverage the modules as supplementary materials for their regular classes, thus making a single online module serve multiple purposes. In the future, this may take Tzu Chi’s Character Education to more diversified applications.”
Through this project, the Tzu Chi Education Foundation revealed that it would not be restrained by the pandemic in its efforts to provide holistic education and cultivate a foundation of good character in children’s hearts.