The Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) is hosting a workshop specifically for children called, Session for Children: Getting to Know Vahiguru on June 27, 2010 in Windsor, Ontario. The seminar is aimed at piquing childrens curiosity and interest in not just Gurbani, but God. Information on the event can be found here.
The workshop is intended to be interactive with lots of questions that help children pick up new vocabulary, develop thinking skills and leave them with a want to learn more through discussion and self-discovery.
I dont live in Ontario, and I dont have children. If I did, I would definitely sign them up for this workshop. When I was growing up, Sunday School classes or home-Sikh-schooling by my grandmother involved exposure to Sikhi focused on memorization of Gurbani, the baseball cards of important Sikh figures (i.e birthday, important stats, a few saakhees, etc.), and two or three shabads our parents could command the singing of at will. There was little to no discussion involving the understanding of Gurbani or the Sikh world view, let alone any metaphysics-related dialogue. I really appreciate and applaud SikhRI for designing a program not for children of Sikh parents, but rather for Sikh children. This SikhRI program is tuning into childrens natural curiosity and helping them discover their spirituality early in life. How wonderful. Reading about this workshop made me reflect on my own upbringing as well as the hopes I have for my future (GodWilling) children.
I am grateful that I was given the foundation in Sikhi that I was, but sometimes when I look back, I realize that my questions, and there were many, often went unanswered. Questioning was actually often discouraged by my elders. As an adult I realize that part of this was due to a fear that I might fall out of line. Of course my family wanted me to live a Sikh lifestyle, but they didnt want me to be too extreme. They didnt live that kind of lifestyle and they wanted me to able to fit in with the community they associate with. That, and in their mind it would affect my marriageability. (Well leave that for another post entirely.) I also realize that the other reason questioning was often discouraged was that sometimes, my elders just didnt have answers for the questions I was asking and didnt have time for a reflective dialogue because they were busy getting settled in America as new immigrants.
Our community is seeing more and more change, but we still have a long way to go. Children have this amazing ability for retention and this beautiful curiosity. Lets not discourage our children from their curiosity. Let them be Sikhs and keep learning. If we cant answer their questions, lets learn with them.
How are you teaching your child(ren) about Sikhi? How do you approach matters of philosophy and faith with them?