Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines and opens up many venues to learn from.
For me, education encompasses but goes beyond academics. As an education futurist, I wanted to create a space for the next generations to learn without fear, to face the highly technical world through student centric approaches such as blended learning and Problem based learning to acquire the essential life skills, to prepare them to face the future both technically and emotionally. The journey from ‘ME(just me)’ to ‘WE(me and my team)’ is helping in transforming education for human flourishing.
We were one of the early Google Hangout users to invite people from around the world to interact with our school children online to share their experiences and ideas. We introduced futuristic digital solutions which helped in broadening boundaries for teachers and students to learn beyond classroom or school. We love to conduct workshops for students on how to be empathetic—and we use an 8-month-old baby for this practical session where the students identify the similarities and differences between them and the baby. They learn in-spite of the differences; it does not make the baby any less adorable. We help them to apply this learning with their peer group. Our school rule 5:1, “Mention five good things before making one complaint” is a super success, which helps students to learn and appreciate the good in others.
It is important to create awareness about civic sense and social responsibility by involving students in live, real-world projects. We encourage our students to participate in social activities such as volunteering for Save Water and Nature (SWAN), Car-Free Thursdays, Raahagiri, Beat Plastic and Rally for Rivers. We raised funds and donated to Hyderabad Urban Makeover, Robinhood Army, Bring a Smile, One Lakh Hands, Rice Bucket Challenge and Project Recycle Bin. We adopted a few orphanages and old age homes as well. We started campaigns such as ‘Adopt a Tree & Save Earth’, ‘Lead by example’ and ‘Beat Plastic’. Experiencing the joy through the art of giving from a tender age plays a major role in moulding child’s character.
Our Problem-based learning (PBL) projects have a student-centered approach in which students learn about a subject by working in groups to solve an open-ended problem. This problem is what drives the motivation and the learning. Our Meedikunta Lake (urban lake) revival stands a true example for this. This project created many avenues for students to learn by gathering necessary information and explore the issue. They learned to identify the problem, new concepts, principles and skills. The process involved them in estimating to solve it, collaboration to get it rolling, team work to support each other, leadership to take responsibility and presentation to share their plan of action. Ideation, implementation, accountability, auditing and performance review helped improve the life skills in our students. This self funded project of reviving Meedikunta lake, Miyapur, Hyderabad, benefited not just our school students but also other schools, colleges, business outlets, 150,000+ pilgrims visiting religious outlets and around 9,000 families living around it. Please visit www.fhgs.in/charity for reference.
Between problem identification and solution, we could create a complete hands on experience for learning. Throughout our life, our perspective evolves due to personal experiences, exposure, and relationships. School is the best place where one can take an issue and turn it into an opportunity to learn. These can help one to transform their views and understand new topics in a better perspective. Transformation is the outcome of all authentic learning.
Founder & Chairperson (Bodhivriksha Educational Society)
Correspondent & Principal (Fountainhead Global School, Hyderabad)