List of Contents
Relevance: Importance of student-friendly learning
Synopsis: The classroom must be centred on joyful and creative learning. It should join the dots between children’s lives and education.
Education is not a race. It is a child’s journey to fulfilling his potential. Reopening schools can be an opportunity to rethink the teaching and learning process itself.
Concept of Santiniketan School
It was started by Rabindranath Tagore. His concept is not limited to education alone. It seeks to bring life in harmony with all existence. He dismissed any pedagogy that sought to cut children off from the world around them. He put his philosophy into practice at Santiniketan, or the “Abode of Peace”.
- Classes at Santiniketan were held outdoors, under an assigned tree, unless it was raining, or if the lesson needed a laboratory.
- Students were carrying small mats sat on the ground and teachers sat on cement seats.
- The approach was to help the child to learn through exploration — art, music, curiosity, and the careful observation of nature
- There was no concept of corporal punishment.
In the words of Amartya Sen:
He, himself, was a student in Santiniketan. In his memoir “Home in the world”, he talks about his experience of learning there. Here he discovered the freedom of learning at his own pace as there was no pressure to excel in terms of grades or exam performance
What Indian education system can learn from it?
- Need to make education more joyful & focus on creative learning
- Every child should be able to learn in an atmosphere that is free, reflective, and affirming.
- They should be able to relate new concepts to what they are already familiar with in their own lives.
Karnataka adopted the Vidyagamma programme during the pandemic. It is a group of committed teachers creating informal, outdoor learning circles or “vataara shaale”.
- Under this model, children gather with a teacher for in-person teaching in small groups, in outdoor community spaces. They are not bound by blackboards and textbooks, but learning interactively, through stories and activities.
- This model is acknowledged as an example of an alternate model of teaching and learning.
If these models got integrated into regular schooling, such learning environments can bring new life into our education system, not only during Covid but also beyond, in normal times.
The pandemic, itself can be a starting point for inquiry-based learning: Children should be encouraged, within the safe space of the learning circles, to discuss what they saw, experienced and learned during the pandemic.
In Gandhi’s words: “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”
Terms to know