Of late, there is an abundance of space for those who wish to step off the beaten path — moving away from the stereotypical Indian doctor, engineer or lawyer. Of course, we’re not saying those stereotypes are done with, but if you notice, our society is now a lot more open towards an alternative path of life. Creativity over stability is the new millennial trend, and there are schools who encourage this right from the get-go. It isn’t just urban niche schools with an alternative schooling system, it’s also parts of rural India who encourage breaking away from the traditional ‘bookish’ sentiment of the education system we’ve all been accustomed to.
Located in Wardha, of the Vidarbha district, a district known for its high rate of farmer suicide, is Anand Niketan. The school believes that Gandhiji’s ideas on education are as relevant today, as they were decades ago. Not only does it mentally prepare you for real life, but it also ensures every pupil leaves with firm morales and values.
Anasuya Menon, a Teach For India fellow visited the school as part of her mentorship and said, “I loved that all the classes these kids were learning were interconnected and ultimately, the lessons were applicable in real life as well. For example: First, they were learning to make 3D diagrams of geometric shapes, which they later went on to colour in during art class. When it comes to Maths — say they’re learning area and perimeter problems, they’ll go on to gardening where they’re learning to hoe and grow their own vegetables; they actually apply the area and perimeter they’ve learned to their own plots. In their cooking class, they weigh out the vegetables they’ve grown themselves and in their chemistry class, they’re learning how to make fertiliser themselves! You can’t compartmentalise in life and that really reflects in their education.”
In line with the Gandhian belief that the learning process ought to be integrated with life, the kids grow their own cotton, pick it, and weave their own thread in another class. The teachers are warm and accommodating, and learn and play alongside them. The three pillars of Gandhi’s pedagogy were its focus on the lifelong character of education, its social character and its form as a holistic process. For Gandhi, education is ‘the moral development of the person’, a process that is by default ‘lifelong’.
Let’s be honest guys — a majority of us would be better off with lessons that prepared us for real life (why didn’t anyone teach us how to do taxes?!) instead of calculating the velocity of a train that has 500 watermelons in it. Here’s to hoping more schools adopt alternative methods of education; to a point where alternative becomes the norm.
If you liked this article, we suggest you read: