Philosophical Basis of Our Approach
The overarching goal of INDIE Education Initiative (INDIE Ed I) is to improve the quality of teaching and learning around the world, particularly in underserved communities. INDIE Ed I aims to broaden the definition and scope of education in these communities so that educators would facilitating the learning of individuals for the sake of their lifelong happiness and the sustainable development of their communities. The concept of the lifelong happiness is based on the work and ideas of a Japanese educator called Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. According to Makiguchi, the purpose of education is to help each learner activate within their lives the conditions necessary for their lifelong happiness; a state that goes beyond their individual economic prosperity or ability to be a good citizen. For Makiguchi, education for the lifelong happiness of learners is to ensure that education transforms people from a state of unconscious living into a state where that learner consciously participate in the affairs of their society. Education for the sake of the lifelong happiness of the learner means creating the opportunity for a learner to acquire a penetrating insight into the nature of things, the methods of research and analysis with the hope that he or she would voluntarily choose to create value with their acquired skills. In other words, education systems must help learners nurture their talents and assist them to create harmony between their internal world and the outer world so that they can enrich their lives and that of others. Makiguchi’s goal was to liberate education from the shackles of imperialism, narrow-minded nationalism, and self-interest so that it can usher in a new age in which the happiness of the individual is taken seriously in the same vain as the prosperity of the whole society. Education, from this perspective, starts and ends with the learner and should not be driven by an externally defined goal. The education philosophy of Makiguchi and other progressive educators like him worldwide inspires us to focus on the learning environment and the culture of care that exist in that environment.
The Universal Declaration of Human Right Article 26 also influences INDIE Ed I’s work in multiple ways. INDIE Ed I intends to give concrete meaning to the phrase “full development of the human personality” in the Universal Declaration of Human Right Article 26 (2). INDIE Ed I understands this phrase to mean that it is important to value the dignity of the lives of all learners and in so doing create the conditions for them to harness their innate abilities and develop these skills in ways that enhance their wellbeing and that of others. Furthermore, educators need to develop an expansive view of each learner’s ability. To state this differently, each learner is capable and has the potential to continue to grow beyond what they can do at a given time. The goal of education then is to help learners develop these abilities so that they can expand their capacity to be able to deal with the ever increasing demand of their daily life without losing their peace of mind and hope in their heart. INDIE Ed I also understand that developing the full potential of learners requires creating the opportunity for them to recognize their own potential, giving them responsibilities that challenge them to go beyond their limitations, and creating the space for them to grow. Trust is important in this regard. INDIE Ed I is able to make the spirit of this article functional because it is able to make learners feel trusted and respected. The INDIE Ed I approach is also built on the understanding that a huge part of the educational experience lies in the quality of care and the quality of relationships that exist among people. Having good relationships with students and genuinely caring about their lifelong happiness, not only their economic prosperity, makes it possible for educators to develop a deep appreciation for the potential of each learner. It allows the educator to get to know the student beyond what they are capable of doing at a given time.
The third defining feature of INDIE Ed I’s approach is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With regards to Education for the sake of the sustainable development of communities, INDIE Ed I will use the same definition as the UN General Assembly Resolution 70/1. The INDIE Ed I team would like to affirm their conviction that the goal to develop the economy, environment, and societies into sustainable and resilient entities require an education model that values the 5Ps (People, Peace, Planet, Partnership, and Prosperity) of SDGs. Base on this understanding, INDIE Ed I develops programs that embody the positive aspects of all the 5Ps while using the negative aspects to teach valuable lessons.