School of Life Program
Target Problem Area
Common observation is that as children from less privileged background complete their formal education, they fail to live up to the demands of economy in terms of their employability and also struggle to understand their role in a society ridden with social, political and economic complexities. More often than not, they tend to become victims of these ills.
We believe that most of the things that matter for effective living develop over a period of time through experiences of social interactions whereby individuals get to learn from the way their thoughts and actions are received by the people at large. Some of these areas of growth are reasoning ability, critical thinking, independent thought process, decision making capacity, accepting differences in society, conflict resolution, appropriate expression etc.
The quality of education, particularly which children from less privileged background get access to (if at all) scores abysmally low on key parameters that define education.
Unless and until we carefully understand the nature of education which can cater to the real needs of these children, we will always find problems of dropouts, unemployable youth, and other issues that result from unprepared minds and uncertain hands.
We have realized that as adults, we tend to get so overwhelmed with the end result of education in terms of a skilled financially independent individual that we fail to pay attention to the entire process which a child needs to reach that mark.
For children to gain interest in education, it is important for them to understand the relevance of understanding what is written in their text books to what is happening in the world around them. If the child is unable to see the value he/she is getting out of reading say a certain chapter in Maths or History in terms of how it is helping him/her face thechallenges of his living, it is naturally going to be difficult for the child to concentrate at schools.
This problem gets compounded when kids have to struggle to meet their basic needs in where there might be various acts of child rights violation happening on a day to day basis
Different kids have their own learning needs and approaches to gaining knowledge and to go by the same mode of teaching all kids is at best a construct of convenience of the school design
Another gap in our schooling is compartmentalization of learning with absence of focus on application of knowledge. This mode of 'education' causes immense problems further down as we find students who may be able to secure marks but don't have the insight of understanding the different dimensions of a given problem. As societies flourish, the complexities within them would increase and this would call for people with enhanced capacities to deal with them.
Static, one-size fits all and teacher centric modes of education have to give way to dynamic and context specific, creative and child centric methods of learning.
This program is meant for children from low income families from the age group of 8 till 16 years (as of now) to provide good quality education by working on the following two broad areas:
- Improve the learning capacity of children by making their academic lessons more stimulating by using various innovative child centric methods
- Developing faculties of mind and intellect (as life skills) which would help the children meet the challenges of a complex and rapidly changing society and equip them for a more effective living
In this program, we attempt to understand the psychological processes of children in the context of the society from where they are coming and ensure that the same is respected and understood at every point in time.
The aim is to help children in developing an outlook and perspective towards academics and living so that learning happens in a natural way without the scaffoldings of tuitions beyond classrooms.
Child centric innovative methods are adopted to explain different concepts in Science, Maths and Language. Social Science is used for developing elements of Life Skills.
For example, an important event in politics like General Elections (say Lok Sabha elections of 2009) can have the following elements of learning in it:
- Civics education- democracy and electoral politics
- Maths- Number of seats across states in proportion to population. Total seats required to form the government
- Social Science- Role of religion and caste in voting- discussion on Sociological aspects and checking what children feel about it; Manifestos of political parties
- History - Growth in democracy in India over a period of 60 yrs
- Life Skills - Qualities that our political leaders need to have. How should we choose our candidates?
(other aspects can also be explored depending upon the detail to which we intend to dive into)
The role of the teacher in this education program can be understood through this quote by John Dewey - "co-partner and guide in a common enterprise--the child's education as an independent learner and thinker"
Thus the approach is based on experiential learning involving project based assignments, games, outbound activities, discussions, debates where children get to express themselves and in the process become more cognizant of the drivers of their thoughts, feelings and actions.