Buddhist Education Services for Schools Inc
Who We Are
Buddhist Education Services for schools, BESS, is a voluntary organisation that has provided non-denominational Buddhist education to students in state schools in and around Brisbane since 2007. Our curriculum is guided by the ethical values taught by the Buddha and our volunteer teachers are drawn from many different Buddhist traditions. The dedicated volunteer teachers have a sound knowledge of Buddhism and are trained and supported by BESS with regular training days, access to courses and a variety of teaching materials.
Our aim is to contribute to the spiritual well-being of every child and help them to develop the knowledge, skills and values required to contribute to a harmonious and peaceful community.
Our curriculum is guided by the legislation enacted by the Queensland Department of Education act 2008.
What We Do
- Our volunteer teachers are authorised to share Buddhist philosophy to students in schools where Religious Instruction classes are offered as extra-curricular study.
- BESS teachers represent many of the Buddhist traditions that are now established in Brisbane, from Thai to Tibetan and Chinese to Sri Lanka.
- We are able to facilitate applications for the Blue Card required by all personnel who work with children in Australia.
- We provide training and support for our teachers with a sound, researched curriculum, engaging and age appropriate lesson plans as well as resources to ensure that there is a consistent and uniform approach to their teaching.
- We regularly liase with schools, to ensure that we continue to meet their standards and expectations.
- We are happy to help parents who would like Buddhist classes to be offered at their children’s school.
The BESS Committee
All our members are enthusiastic volunteers, committed to sharing their knowledge of Buddhism with the children. Most of our management committee are also teachers and are dedicated to the development, improvement and growth of the organisation.
President: Venerable Tseten
Secretary: Petra Depalo
Treasurer: Michelle Wang
School Coordinator: Lyna Chen
Members: Tanuja Sarath-Chandra, Sandy Ellis
The BESS Teachers
Our wonder teachers are drawn from all three Buddhist traditions, Theravadan, Mahayana and Vajrayana, and therefore from many different cultural backgrounds such as Chinese, Sri Lankan and European. However, our curriculum is non-sectarian, with all the teachers sharing the fundamental basics of Buddhist philosophy with the children that will give them sound life skills to help them lead a good life for the benefit of both themselves and their community.
There are mandatory training days each term for the teachers where they get together to share their experiences whilst building a strong community spirit. There are lectures in all aspects of classroom management, teaching skills as well as IT skills.
All teachers have a Blue Card and receive annual Student Protection Training as prescribed by the Department of Education.
Becoming a volunteer teacher
If you are a practicing Buddhist and have taken refuge and would like to join in the wonderful activities of BESS, sharing the Dharma with our young people, then do not be discouraged if you have no teaching experience. All that we require of you is that:
- You like working with children and are enthusiastic
- That you are able to communicate in English
- You have to be a practicing Buddhist and a member/supporter of a Buddhist centre
- You have to available to teach at least for 30 minutes each week during school hours for the four terms a year.
BESS offers training and support from the very outset of your joining our team. There is a mandatory mentorship programme in place where our new recruits observe an experienced teacher, & can really act as a classroom assistant if they feel able, and for as long as it takes for them to become comfortable with taking on a class of their own.
However, this is a big responsibility. The class you are assigned is really yours, and that is for the entire academic year. Each class is for 30 minutes and you will be expected to be in class every week. Although we do not have a pool of spare teachers, (we are only a small organisation,) if you need time off, we can usually arrange cover for you if you let the coordinator know in time. You will have the chance to build a wonderful relationship with the children in your class & the lesson preparation you do will not only educate the children but will greatly enhance your own knowledge of Buddhism.
Membership of BESS also offers friendship with others who share the same enthusiasm as you for the Dharma and if you are looking for a chance to make a tangible and lasting difference by connecting with a cause you really care about, please consider donating your time and skills to further the cause of propagating the Dharma in the west.
We are not only looking for teachers but also non-teaching members who can vote at the annual general meeting each year. There is a small annual membership fee, currently $5, which helps to fund the teaching and your particular skills might prove invaluable to BESS in ways you had not foreseen. You do not have to be a teacher to be the secretary or a committee member, where there are opportunities to support the teachers.
BESS is an incorporated association and the management committee meet five times a year and are responsible for providing guidance and overall management for BESS as a whole and the teachers in particular with the very best training and support possible. It is imperative that we meet all legislative requirements and maintain good relationships with the schools. These things take time and so the management committee does what it does best and the teachers are free to get on with the teaching. So many skills utilised to the best advantage.
What is Buddhism? Watch this short video introduction on Buddhism: youtu.be/p5HxC2q90RU
It is helpful to have an idea of what Buddhism is.
If you are a school principle who has been asked by parents of students at their school to facilitate Buddhist lessons for their children and have then directed you to this website, this chapter offers a glimpse of what Buddhism actually is. This will enable you, at the very least, to have some idea of Buddhist reasoning and philosophy that enables people to lead the best life possible for the benefit of one’s self, the community we live in, and the entire world. What amazing principles to gift to our children.
If you are a parent who is considering that you would like your child to learn something of the teachings of the Buddha, you might already be aware that Buddhist ethics offer valuable life skills. These can enable your child to aspire to be the best human being they possibly can be. Then this chapter will give you a further sense of the immense value of teaching Buddhism to a child.
First of all there is really no such thing as ‘a Buddhist’. This term was coined in the 1850’s by westerners when they first met the teachings of the Buddha. Those born into an historically Buddhist culture would say that they are ‘followers of the Dharma’, Dharma being the collective name for the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha wasn’t Buddhist, it was not a name his parents gave him. It is bestowed upon those who gain the ultimate wisdom as to the real state of the world. Bodhi means ‘one who is awake’ as in awake to the reality of life, why we have so much unhappiness, so much suffering. Our unhappiness and dissatisfaction are created by our own minds, our greed, our anger and our selfishness. Our joys and happiness are also created by our minds as we practise generosity, loving kindness and equanimity. The more we practise, the more we naturally settle into such a content state of mind. The Buddha rediscovered this and went on to share this knowledge so that we can all learn and benefit.
The term ‘religion’, when we try to apply it to Buddhism, could be problematic since Buddhists do not believe in a Supreme Being or Creator God. The Buddha taught that we are all responsible for every single thing we think, every single thing we do and every single thing we say. This is a huge responsibility and we teach the children to be careful what they think, what they say and what they do so that they do not harm themselves or any other being.
In the classroom, very often we use simple forms of meditation to convey ways of being peaceful, being content and understanding the ways our mind works. Being friends with ourselves. We have found that the children are very open to this method of learning how to be thought-full and mind-full.
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