The Harmony Project has developed a full school curriculum around the principles of Harmony. It overlaps with Values-based Education in many respects.
This page provides information about the project, the overlaps and the outline principles.
What is the Harmony Curriculum?
This is a hopeful curriculum that nourishes and strengthens learners’ interest in the world in which we live. It envisions a way of learning to live that is based on a deep understanding of – and connection to – the natural world. The Harmony Curriculum enables us to put Nature’s principles of Harmony, including the Cycle; Interdependence; Diversity; Health; Adaptation; Geometry and Oneness, at the heart of teaching and learning.
The bedrock of Harmony is the values of love, joy, peace, patience and kindness – through which we discuss and model ethical language and behaviours, enabling us to better understand ourselves and develop positive relationships with one another. Through this, the door is opened wide to spirituality and our sense of our place in the world.
How is Harmony Curriculum Relevant to VbE Schools?
The Harmony Curriculum has a particular interest for VbE schools in a number of ways. When children have a secure understanding of how universal positive human values shape our lives, they are well-placed to be able to develop:
Developing Self-awareness and personal wellbeing:
The principles of harmony help bring awareness of our learners relationship within themselves, with others and with the natural world. It helps them to value their education through reflection and practical experimentation.
Raising School effectiveness:
The curriculum adds diversity to the traditional curriculum. It introduces practical collaboration between learners which creates a cohesive environment within which to learn.
Creating Purpose in the Curriculum:
The topic of Harmony creates a greater sense of purpose for learners with content learners relate to personally. We know that Nature’s principles amplify the issues that children are so passionate about: the environment, sustainability, and the future of our planet. They propel our values – the roots and shoots of Harmony – into action!
Values in Action:
The Harmony projects actualise values. They provide learners with self-agency to make changes in the world, nurturing their advocacy skills and capacities. For learners who understand harmony, it offers then an entirely new series of lenses through which to see, understand and appreciate the world.
The Seven Principles
To get a flavour of the scope within which the curriculum has been developed, the seven Principles of Harmony are listed below.
When we look at the natural world, we see systems at work that are in dynamic, balanced relationship. Everything is connected and works to the greater good of the whole, as well as the individual parts. Wholeness and health are central to the well-being of any system, be it in nature or in the way we run our organisations and care for ourselves.
And yet, when we look at the systems we have created, they are often fragmented and unhealthy. For example, if we consider our education system, it is based on subject-separate learning with one lesson unrelated to the next. This teaches us a mindset of separateness and learning can often feel meaningless. We don’t see consequences or connections in the way we would if our learning was joined up and purposeful. Another example is our farming systems, which, for the most part, are based on monoculture practices that, through their over-use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, pollute soils and water and destroy biodiversity. These practices are not sustainable, and their impact affects both the health of the environment and our own health.
In the world of economics and business, separate individuals and competing organisations often fight for survival, which can lead to a ‘race to the bottom’. The same can even be said for our Government departments, which tend to work in separate silos, leading to a lack of joined-up thinking around how our countries are led and governed.
A systemic worldview is essential to a sustainable future. This idea needs to be embedded within our social, cultural and economic structures, and, most importantly, it must be central to our education, too.
As we consider the future we want our children and grand-children to inherit, Nature’s eternal, universal principles of Harmony will be key to guiding and informing a better way of learning to live and work, one that is predicated on the idea of harmony and balance. When any system is in balance, it is well.
So, what are the essential principles of Harmony?
The first is the principle of The Cycle. Nature works in never-ending cycles that create no waste or pollution. We see these cycles at work through the seasons of the year and in the lifecycles of different plant and animal species, and we understand that cycles enable any system to keep going.
The second is the principle of Interdependence and an appreciation that nothing is separate. If we are to design ways of working that are sustainable, they will need to be interdependent and systemic. This is how our bodies work. This is how our ecosystems work. This is what we must understand if we are to make the right choices in how we live, what we say and what we do.
The third is the principle of Diversity. When a system is resilient and healthy, it is because of its diversity. How can we ensure we value diversity in all things to give strength to our organisations and the systems we manage? What does it mean to promote and celebrate diversity?
The fourth is the principle of Adaptation. Nature is constantly adapting to its place. It is in a state of flux and change all the time. We know that we need to adapt how we work to the context of our place if we are to create that sense of flow and well-being. As we look to the future, how might we need to adapt to enable all life to survive and thrive?
The fifth is the principle of Health. We know that when anything is healthy, it will be sustainable. So, what does health look like for us, for our communities, for our world? Health is the driver for all our work. When we get that right, everything else falls into place.
The sixth is the principle of Geometry and an appreciation of the sacred order of life, seen in the micro and macro patterns in us and around us. This patterning in nature creates such beauty and we feel well when the world is beautiful.
And finally, the principle of Oneness, because all these principles are ultimately one. We can also see this idea of oneness as a spiritual dimension to the harmony of life. It reminds us to give time to finding our peace and our place in the world, however that may be.
When we live according to the principles of Harmony, we will live in ways that will ensure health and well-being for all. At this critical time, guiding principles of Harmony can teach us the right way forward. They provide us with a new way of learning to live.
More details area available about the Harmony Project and introducing the Harmony Curriculum from the Project’s website: