If you’re someone who isn’t much into education, you might have your own preconceived notions about how learning takes place in schools. However, over a period of time a lot is changing. How schools take up various new approaches to engage students in learning is phenomenal.
Gone are the days when a teacher would write something on the board, and the student would then copy. Who knows if the student actually understood anything? Many schools are changing the way they teach. One such school is The International School of Thrissur (TIST). They follow the Reggio Emilia approach of teaching, and let me tell you, it definitely is changing education.
New approaches of learning
Now for those of you wondering what the Reggio Emilia approach is, its an educational philosophy and pedagogy focused on preschool and primary education. This approach is a student-centered and constructivist self-guided curriculum that uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments
In simpler terms, it’s not rote learning, or based on theory alone. Students learn from g practical experiences and put their brain to thinking. Talking to Dr.Kavita Bajpai, director of TIST, gave me a clear idea of what the approach is. Students are always curious. Instead of teaching them what’s right, with the help of the Reggio Emilia approach, they give students projects where their brain is put to test.
Projects that enhance thinking
While such schools follow a curriculum, they don’t necessarily use the traditional way of teaching. Students are made to put their brains to test. They use their think tanks to find answers themselves. While speaking to Dr. Bajpai, I came across one such project. As a part of the project, students were asked to imagine a life with dinosaurs alive even today.
The young minds came up with exceptional answers. Some said those dinosaurs would help them fly, while others had an imagination of dinosaurs having a completely different look, with different colours and prints. However, think about it, if these kids were told how a dinosaur is in real life, would they think about dinosaurs in different ways? They would just learn what the teacher describes about dinosaurs.
Now in any traditional setup, you would learn a language by remembering the words. However, that’s not quite the approach that TIST follows. Languages are learnt by way of movies. How entertaining, isn’t it? Students are made to watch movies in the target language, so they get a clear idea of how the language is spoken in real life.
Similarly, maths is no longer boring and difficult. Instead of teaching sums the traditional way, teachers make sure to include numbers in the lives of their students in such a way that they don’t fear, but enjoy maths. One such example is about the angles at which doors open. The angle is mentioned on the floor, so everytime a child opens the door, they know what angle it opens at.
At every step, students are made to be a part of the learning process. They don’t just learn what the teacher has to say, they ask questions. They put their brains to test, and try to make sense of the learning themselves too.
360 degree learning
With learning changing at every step, students now just don’t focus on one thing. They get a choice to learn what interests them, and are guided at each step. TIST follows an approach where students just don’t learn theory. They also sharpen their practical skills.
Along with their numeracy skills, when it comes to linguistic skills, children focus equally on reading, writing, listening and speaking. While they excel academically, co-curricular activities aren’t left at the side. Students take active part in sports activities, along with art and drama. “We’re making sure these kids are prepared for the real world,” says Dr. Kavita. Looking at the young minds, they definitely will make for confident people of the future.
Motivation at every step
While there aren’t exams till the kids reach the 5th grade, there is a concept of a star student. Someone who potentially does well at all aspects is rewarded. For the shy and quiet ones too, the teachers are there to motivate them and help them overcome their fears.
As the ratio is 12:1 each student gets proper attention and constant motivation from each teacher. Not only are students motivated, teachers too are constantly supported and grow with the student. They receive training at all levels too.
With global warming and climate change around the world, having a sustainable future is the need of the hour. At the International School of Thrissur, solar energy is used. Along with academic learning, students learn to protect the environment too.
They know the importance of saving the environment for future generations, and take every little step to do so. With a well equipped school that uses solar energy, students are saving the earth to some extent too.
With around 23 years of experience in education, Dr. Kavita Bajpai says a lot has changed over the years. However, what has not changed is her love for education, and making constant changes to better education at each step. Her only aim, to make small changes to make schooling fun and informative at the same time for students.
Wouldn’t you like learning through new experiences, experiences which stay etched in the heart for years to come. Experiences that can never be forgotten, and experiences that just make one a better person.