Where has our love of our learning escaped to? Too often we find ourselves cramming knowledge in education institutions. Studying for the sake of passing exams. I feel completely guilty of this and if you asked me what I remember from lectures from my university days, I will struggle to recall much. India seems to take this to another level though, where most students leave school with one incredible skill: a mastery over rote learning.
We recently found ourselves in a school like none other though. Parents School like Satara is nestled in the foot of a beautiful range of hills. The school itself looks like your average school, complete with a sports field, toilets, a set of classrooms and a couple hundred hyperactive children.
What we didn’t realise upon first glance is that the soccer posts on the field were actually cut, welded and put up by the students. The taps outside were installed by the children, piping, plumbing and all. As we took a tour of the school we found children building stools, rewiring fans and blenders, sewing, mixing fertilisers and growing various plants. We had the greatest surprise in one class where one 11 year old student asked Dave for his hand, and went on to collect his blood and check his blood group and hemoglobin levels! If any of you have seen 3 Idiots, this school certainly reminded of the school we witness Rancho running at the end of the movie!
We spent the following days learning more about Lend-A-Hand-India’s skills based education programme that they run in rural schools across India. Beyond merely providing skills, students engage with and use their skills to benefit their community. They often also charge a small fee for what they do – be it repair electronics, blood tests or selling plants. The money earned goes back into the school, helping fund the programme. Practical skills, community service, entrepreneurship all in one – what a sweet learning environment?
The teachers too were so committed to developing their students to be good well rounded people. Values, service, yoga, meditation are all part of the education system. Much to learn from them!
Why do we learn? What is the purpose of education? How can we maintain a passion for learning? How can we create learning environments – be it at home, work or through study that develop us to be well rounded people? How can we use what we learn to serve the community?
Check out this video of our friend Touhid and the school in action: