Altius is a social education movement that we launched in India in 2009. Altius offers an alternative education process to achieve both professional and life goals whilst also upholding moral values, love and integrity. Most of the regular academic curricula are aimed at certification for securing jobs that lead onward to one's professional goals. Altius is larger in scope. Altius’ alternative education is aimed at assisting youth towards formulating and aiming to achieve the all-encompassing goals of life, which one sets as ‘life’s mission in this world’.
The Altian thinking flows as follows - we are born into this world and destined to live here for some time. No one will differ that we should live happily as long as we live. Great seekers of truth, prophets and lovers of and nature have all been trying to discover and formulate paths towards happiness. Many social theories, schools of philosophy, religious thoughts and political doctrines were born. Social doctrines often rely on contemplative discoveries and time-relevant subjective views. From time to time such social doctrines are challenged by our amazing inventions, advancements in science and technology and by our dramatically changing lifestyles. These transformations necessitate reinterpreting the older social doctrines to communicate with the contemporary society. The objective of Altius is to re-frame, re-define and re-interpret what the seers, spiritual leaders and philosophers have taught as the means to contentment, more in context of present day challenges in life. Altius aims to harmonize the value systems from the past and the present.
Prioritization: Altius also focuses on setting the priority between the goals of life and the processes to achieve the goals. It is often the question on which of the two is more important. In fact the balancing of the two is a trail that we all face in modern times. On account of increasing competitiveness on the one hand, and the struggles of making marks of achievement in a short lifetime on the other hand, it is commonplace for youth to be led to believe that achievement by whatsoever means is all that matters. Professional goals therefore are overvalued. At Altius we say that an experiencing journey is important. Also that one should reach the destination enjoying the sights on the way. How one achieves any goal is as important as the process of achieving it.
Altian thinking developed from the desire to see a young generation more inclined to value-based lifestyle. We envisioned for youth the adoption of a lifestyle that upholds truth, love and service mindedness en route to achievements and overall success. Youth need to be awakened from their materialistic social conditioning and become aware of the spiritualistic parameters to lead a life towards meaningful contentment. The Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Adi Sankara, Karl Marx, and Narayana Guru are some that devoted their life to find paths to arrive at the true definition and right formula for life.
Teaching methods: People generally learn by seeing, reading, hearing and thus experiencing. What is seen and experienced is assimilated faster than any other sensory learning process. Leaders set the examples by what they do. Altius has a course modelled on a set of practices that help to evolve the person. The lives of role models are discussed in Altius meetings. Main among them is Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Che Guevara, Vivekananda and Narayana Guru. What is common in them is the unconditional love for humankind. The lives and teachings of these great persons from recent history and related books are discussed. Students are encouraged to individually evolve a spiritual formula which will act as the beacon in their life.
Reaching out: How do we do that? We target university students who are starting to think independently and are also highly receptive to ideas and adaptive to change through education. So Altius works among the youth. We send information requesting the university students to pen down their ideas to transform the society by changing themselves. Altian students are selected through various workshops at district, state, national and international level. Mentoring programs are conducted regularly, where seniors mentor the juniors even outside the educational environment. They share reflections on the good books they read and their great experiences in daily life in the online Altius forums and workshops. Other practical learning methods include volunteering to run moral science classes for high school students, engaging in farm assistance, volunteering to assist with household chores etc. These tasks are essentially aimed at helping students to become public speakers, self-reliant and to de-condition their ego.
Through Altius the youth in the cities we operate usher in a new civic culture of truth, love and ethics. When they smile they spread energy and the others get recharged positively. Altians aim to become the inspiration to others to bring about a chain of transformation. Altius’ vision is to better our lives and lives of others and thus make this world the best place to live.
The American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once wrote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”