How Do you Say “Know Thyself” in Kazakh?
Sara Nazarbayeva, the wife of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, had her first book presented the other day, a first among First Ladies in the post-Soviet space.
The book is not a history of Kazakhstan or a biography or memoir, as her husband’s books have been. Instead Philosophy of Love presents her methods of self-awareness and recognition. No one seems to be reporting on the details of what her philosophy of love is or what she means by self-awareness. However, for 7 years Pavoldar State Pedagological Institute, where the book was presented, has taught “Self-Awareness”, a course designed by Nazarbayeva “aimed at spiritual and moral development of man, self-improvement and harmonious development of personality.” And as of last year, Self-Awareness has become a regular school subject.
According to the Ministry of Education website:
The moral and religious education and upbringing of the younger generation in Kazakhstan society focused on the harmonious synthesis of human, national, ethnic, cultural and personal values, they pozvolyut person to fully realize ourselves in service to society, to realize their role and purpose in life.
Self, increasing value-meaning education, reveals and develops the individual’s ability to love unselfishly, to believe in themselves and in their strength, to do good, to learn more and improve itself, to achieve harmony in the physical, mental, spiritual, social and creative development.
The official site of Nazarbayeva’s center, Bobek, has a Self-Knowledge Section with some sample lessons. It sounds very touchy-feely and pretty harmless. However, some of the aspects, like the teacher chanting Zen-like poetry while students stand in a circle, sounds suspiciously like the kinds of things that make the government nervous when they happen in Protestant churches. And much of it seems aimed less at having students explore issues of self, love, nature, and the soul and more at teaching them the “correct” view.
Has anyone gone through this program? What do you think about it?