Bali Education for Social Skills

Children around the world are born with the same instincts. Self-interest is key. Boys everywhere typically fight, girls strive for social dominance. But in Bali, these drives are blunted.

For fights or bad actions of children, teachers and parents do more than say "no" or simply be negative. They also emphasize the positive aspects of good behavior, such as the benefits of a harmonious community. They talk about how the person being mistreated must feel.

A child or adult who shows aggression, upset, or loud talking is viewed as rude. They are excluded from the group until they behave properly. This is different from other types of punishments, which might be seen as barbaric behavior similar to the child's offense.

Children learn at home and at school that a top priority is to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable - especially strangers or foreigners. They are taught that the number of friends you have (who hold you in their heart with good feelings) is more important than any other type of success.

Children are urged to always behave in a way that will bring favorable comment and honor to their family. This is much more important than making money or having a prestige position that is not obtained or held with honor.

The Balinese consider children as part of the community, and everyone has a responsibilty for guiding them properly. Parents and neighbors as important as schools in transmitting behavioral values.

Bali elementary schools have regular classes in religion, teaching

  1. Respect for God (and the many gods manifesting God).
  2. Love other people (and the social skills stemming from that love)
  3. Promoting harmony with nature (However, environmental cleanliness, zoning, and related matters in Bali can lag behind some Western standards.)

The 95% Hindu population in Bali believes in the above values, and reinforce the first two regularly. Children are not given an alternative, self-centered role model, as in the competitive West. Conforming to these values is done with a steady, regular pressure by the whole community.


Traditional village life in Bali is tends to be socialistic. Gentle teasing gets everyone to work or to contribute as best as he/she can. Rewards (like money income) are split equally. The selfish drive is absent or minimized. Making sure that everyone is taken care of or supported properly is the highest goal. Helping others build a house, community fund raising is common. One does not gain prestige by having more than others. Prestige comes from the number of solid friends one has.

Comment on this page from a Balinese internet reader

From : indra partha <>
Sent : Thursday, April 13, 2006 6:14 AM
To : Van Sloan <>
Subject : your Bali webpage

Dear Van, I have seen your website and thought it was amazing. If i am not wrong, you are a social worker who is doing some research about world, especially doing research about life, socialism, culture, education or something like that. That is kinda great job indeed and sounds very interesting. I am now about excited to learn some more about this from you when we meet in Bali.

As i read on the website, the article about Bali is 99,99 % correct. I wonder where and how did you get those internal information about Bali. I appreciate your Bali project and as a Balinese, i am so honored. This is great on you.

Cheers, Indr@

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