Posted by: Singh Is King | Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sojhi Connects North American Sikh Diaspora

Almost three years ago, few individuals had a vision to shape the future of Sikh education for the next generations. Out of this vision came Sojhi – Gurmat and Panjabi Education Resource., a project of Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI). The goal of Sojhi is to increase the effectiveness of Sikh education by developing high standards of learning with comprehensive teaching materials. The Sojhi team consisting of over 15 full time, part time and volunteer staff members has developed a comprehensive education plan for Sikh schools serving students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
After developing a set of standards for Kindergarten to grade 12 in 2005, the Sojhi elementary school curriculum was introduced in June, 2006. Since then, 28 community and private schools have adopted the curriculum and are currently implementing it. Khalsa School Calgary – a full fledged private school in Alberta, Canada – is the most recent adopter of the curriculum. Along with teaching their students the Alberta education curriculum, Khalsa School Calgary intends to introduce the Sikh curriculum as developed by Sojhi. Sojhi curriculum introduces children to Gurmat based vocabulary and contemporary Panjabi, as well as Sikh heritage with a focus on the Sikh theological framework from 1469 to present. Over 300 lesson plans complete with resources for teachers and students are provided in the disciplines of Boli (language arts) and Virsa (Sikh heritage).
Sojhi curriculum nurtures skills that children learn through their educational curriculum. Students using the curriculum will have the opportunity to enhance skills that they learn in their regular education classes. Developmental milestones and abilities have been taken into account while developing the curriculum. For example, at a 2nd grade level children are typically developing map reading skills. In the Sojhi curriculum similarly, as students begin to learn about the land of our Gurus they begin identifying districts and provinces of East and West Panjabi. This helps them improve their map reading skills through added practice.


Sojhi curriculum also focuses on developing leadership skills at a young age. In order to effectively facilitate such proficiency in the classroom, Sojhi also provides teacher trainings at all level. At the very first level, Sojhi works on helping teachers understand content and instruction.
The Sojhi team has conducted over 15 trainings over the last year. The most recent training was conducted in Charlotte, North Carolina for the Charlotte Gurduara Khalsa School on 4th August 2007. The training consisted of interactive workshops where teachers were introduced to teaching techniques on questioning, developing graphic organizer and the importance of planning and preparing to teach in the classroom. Foundational understanding of Sikhi was provided through workshops such as: Sikh Culture and Traditions, Sikh Celebrations, Language: Spelling, Parlance and Vocabulary and The Ten Nanaks: One Jot. Jaspal Singh from Durham, NC said that “the training program was incredible. It is an impressive effort that reflects a profound love of Sikhi and manages to integrate the best of eastern and western approaches. It is inspirational to see how the staff at SikhRI has developed resources to maximize the abilities of our children to grow.”


Sojhi also provides second level customized trainings for schools adopting the curriculum. On 1st July 2007, a second level training was conducted
at Guru Nanak Foundation of America (GNFA). This half day training was requested by the school to help the teachers enhance their knowledge of Sikh Theology and Gurbani Linguistics. The instructional training workshops were developed in conjunction with the Institute’s staff: Jasmine Kaur, Surenderpal Singh, and Harinder Singh. Nineteen teachers from GNFA and two teachers from Guru Angad Institute of Sikh Studies (GAISS) attended the 4-hour training.

Gajinder Singh, the education coordinator at GNFA, said: “Speaking on the subject of Sikh Theology and Gurbani Interpretation, Harinder Singh did an excellent job in sharing his vast knowledge of Sikhi and Gurbani. Harinder Singh is a great educator and communicator who helps connects the general Gurbani precepts to common daily practices.” Jasleen Kaur, one of the GAISS teachers, felt that “every teacher should be taking it [teacher training], as being a teacher it is very important to be clear and have an open mind to learn and to teach others.”


Sojhi will continue to conduct specific teacher trainings for the schools using the curriculum and first level training for the new schools that adopt it. My Gurmukhi Khajana: A Gurmat Based Primer has been developed in conjunction with Kikli to supplement the elementary school curriculum. Other teacher and student supplemental resources will also be developed for use in the classrooms and at home. Sojhi will soon be releasing its Middle school curriculum for students in Grades 6 to 8.

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