Every child is unique, in his or her thoughts, interests and abilities. One may love to dance, another may be natural at communication, while still another may be a genius at Mathematics. This discovery and blossoming of individual latent skills and aptitudes needs to be facilitated by a school.
Schools must deliberately create an environment infused with the joy of learning and thirst for improvement, alongside a constant exploration of the inherent skills and talents of a child. More than ever before, the approach to learning needs to be holistic, but what does it take to build and sustain such an approach?
From Attitude to Aptitude
Do you remember spending innumerable hours memorising, revising and then forgetting all your syllabus, right on the exam table? We’ve all had those times! Learning doesn’t merely require the right books, but also the right mind-set. A healthy mind-set is extremely important in facilitating comprehension and retention, as well as engagement with the subject matter. A mind that is curious, stimulated, alert and willing is more likely to learn and absorb.
At Shiv Nadar School, learning is a mix of inquiry and project-based approach. Students are encouraged to ask questions and are engaged in many hands-on projects which cement textbook learning in their flexible, curious minds. A special initiative, called the Funkaar Week, in fact, is built on the concept of project-based and experiential learning, wherein curriculum objectives are achieved outside the classroom – by mixing mathematics with sports, or social science with home science, and sometimes, even science with dance!
In addition, a dedicated arts and sports programme, called ‘Aha! Time’ is run in the school, the objective of which is “kindling a fire of self-identified passion in the hearts of students”. Within the framework of this programme, students indulge in activities that encourage investigation, stimulation, expression, experience, and even relaxation. It is a time for the child to rejuvenate and really fall in love with learning; and somewhere at the meeting point of learning and exploring, discover one’s own passion.
Guidance and Mentorship
Once you know your passion and understand your abilities, how do you convert this into a lifelong pursuit of happiness? As one progresses to higher grades, it becomes necessary to match one’s aptitude with the right career avenues. An efficient Career Guidance Centre, hence, becomes important. The role of this centre is not limited to providing career counselling, rather it must evolve with the dynamically evolving times. Students, at the very outset, need to be given information and exposure of future academic and career avenues, so they may choose their subjects wisely. Real world exposure can be brought to school by bringing in experts, or by taking students outside for industry walks/workshops and internships.
As students experience their fields of aspiration, some rose-tinted perspectives go away, and some solid ambitions raise their heads – only this time, in a more informed way!
It is imperative that a child who steps out of the school must be able to navigate the challenges that we spoke about. For that, he must be adept at creative and critical thinking, at being able to work collaboratively, at being able to communicate effectively, and at being able to empathise with the larger community.
Engagement with diverse issues and multi-domain experts is an important tool to achieve the said objective. For example, when exposed to panel discussions like “The Dialogue” at Shiv Nadar School, students are able to develop a holistic view and comment on national, political and economic issues very ably. A robust sports curriculum is also a must have. It helps instil mental agility and spontaneity, other than ensuring the physical well-being of a child.
Children should step out into the world, armed with confidence in their own abilities and their unique capabilities. Schools must therefore constantly strive towards grooming them not just with learning but for learning, as a quest for life.