My Green School – Book By Bhutanese Educator Thakur S Powdyel, Expected To Be Taught In Schools Across Japan
Professor Miwako Hosoda believes that ‘My Green School’ will be of much interest to students, educators and researchers.
By Needrup | Zangpo Kuensel
A five-year-old book born in Bhutan sees a Japanese incarnation.
‘My Green School’, a book by a Bhutanese educator, Thakur S Powdyel, has been translated into the Japanese language and is expected to be taught in schools across Japan.
A fine user of the English language and a respected teacher, Thakur S Powdyel is a recipient of the Gusi Peace Prize for his life-time contribution to education, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, in 2011. He has also won the Global Education Award for his outstanding contribution to education in 2012 and a Distinguished Service Award in 2016.
Thakur S Powdyel, who had also served as Bhutan’s Education Minister, says his book was written to support the implementation of ‘Educating for Gross National Happiness’, an educational reform initiative launched in 2009.
Reasons why Professor Hosoda chose to translate the book and use it for teaching in Japan
The book was translated by a Japanese professor, Miwako Hosoda, who is also the Vice President of Seisa University in Japan. It took her two years to translate the book.
She believes that ‘My Green School’ will be of much interest to students, educators and researchers.
The book has been published by Seisa University and it presents the original English text and Japanese translation side by side in an airy layout with space for notes.
There are also pictures from both Bhutan and Japan as well as some illustrations. The 124-page book is much bigger and more colourful than the original Bhutanese edition.
Source: Social Science Research Council
The professor, in her afterword, says that the book is packed with educational philosophies and that there is a lot that the Japanese, who tend to prioritise GDP and academic performance, can learn from Bhutan.
The book derives its inspiration from the holistic development ideals of ‘Gross National Happiness’. It presents eight holistic elements- Natural, Social, Cultural, Intellectual, Academic, Aesthetic, Spiritual and Moral Greenery.
“For me, to have my book translated into a great language of a great people is not only deeply humbling but greatly inspiring,” Thakur S Powdyel said.
Messages which Thakur S Powdyel aims to spread through his book
“It is not only my message that ‘My Green School’ tries to communicate. It is the message of my country. It is the message of Bhutan because deep at the heart of ‘My Green School’ is the great vision of development called Gross National Happiness, articulated and gifted to us and the world by His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.”
The author says that education, which was once regarded as a noble sector by the wise, has over the time, been reduced to a mere acquisition of knowledge and certificates.
“Today, education systems across the world are deficient in many respects. They prepare people for careers, factories, corporations and the job market. But life is more than that. And we must be able to prepare young men and women not only to be career conscious but also good human beings,” the author added.
The deeply meditative book presents multiple dimensions of education in the form of the ‘Sherig (education) Mandala’.
“So, in ‘My Green School’, it depicts the major claims on teaching and learning. I believe we have a kind of a paradigm for holistic education. In a nutshell, the book presents the major elements that I believe holistic education ought to have.”
Besides the Japanese edition, the book has also been translated into four other languages - Spanish, Catalan, Vietnamese and German.
The German edition is yet to be published while the Vietnamese edition was rated among the top five translated works in the country in 2016. It is taught as part of the curriculum in Hoa Sen University in Vietnam.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the new Bhutan Times.