Saturday, August 27, 2022

Connections, growth stories and possibilities!

 I work in a progressive school which believes in small classroom sizes, individual attention, in the paradigm that each child can learn, and to give special attention to those who don't get ATTENTION at home. 

Recently some ex students of the school shared some memories from their school days. Right now they are in respectable positions and doing well in life. They credit their success to the attention and care they got in their beginning years in this school. I was the person collecting these stories and these stories moved me. A common thread in them was the feeling of being at HOME that they felt in this space. The feeling to be themselves authentically, to take up challenges knowing that they have someone to take their back if they fail.  The teachers at this school fill in this gap by being the HOME in a way that every child feels secure, comfortable in this space, they don't have to act to be someone else, no need to impress their adults, infact they can just be, they can be curious, they can touch, feel, talk and move which they are not allowed in other spaces like their homes maybe or other schools. This is also because our philosphy has been built after extensive research done by the founders. This school is their way of activism. 

Coming back to my present teaching days. I teach English in Class Nursery to Class 5.

Some of my case studies from last 1 year..

1. When Ansh was a new student in our school, he liked being loud, noisy, run around, pick up fights, and complain about others. We didn't complain or blame. We tried connecting with him and gave him the same attention like others, fast forward three months of schooling and  he has become one of the calmest boys, he loves wishing his teacher when she comes in class, loves to write in his copies, draws a variety of things and cooperates well. He trusts the adults around him and doesn't feel the need to be loud or complain about others. He is getting his needed attention and care.

2. Radhika and Lehar, 7 year old girls, study in Class 3. They did online teaching in class 1 and  class 2 like all other students as covid cases were rising. They couldn't attend and understand the classes very well, could barely write anything in copies. Move forward to class 3. They have attended 8 months of consistent teaching. They are self learners. They like doing their tables, write delicious stories and have a lot of questions for everyone. Connection with the teacher and the real space was so important. Those who speak in favour of online teaching for younger children don't understand their needs at all or have forgotten how they were at that age. 

3. Akshi, a 9 year old child in class 4 is lagging behind in her writing assignments. There is lot of scope of improvement in her work. What has beautifully developed is her self confidence, ability to smile and give a reply. When asked about the feelings about a particular class , she confidently said she felt bored. It is usually difficult for her to reply in English, it still feels foreign to her but sharing that the class was a little boring and not feeling that she would be reprimanded for it , is an achievement for both. She could verbalize how she felt.

4. When asked who their best friend is, none of the children in Class 2 and class 3, could name only 1 friend. All of them said  names of 2 or 3 classmates as every day they work in pairs or in groups and they have developed a relationship with many of their classmates that they cannot name only 1 child as their best friend. It has to be more than 1. Teaching cooperation, team work and no comparison with others, the effect of this is visible in so many ways. 

These are just some case studies. They do not let me sleep at night because they keep me happy  at the possibilites each one has to grow and learn. These children will be able to live a happy and fulfilled life. There is this space which really values them and also values  that which is  inside them and wants to come out. These children feel seen, heard and cherished every day. They are developing high self esteem and self worth. 

Excited to start another day at The Southpoint School!

Teacher and learning activist

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Our new Café manager pens her feelings about a kitchen staff member

I have never met anyone like Rita didi before. Well, in these three months I definitely can't vouch that I know a lot about her but whatever I know about her is enough for me to be amazed by her professionalism, her poise and her love for cooking. When I was new she hand-held me and taught me how to do accounts. I used to make so many mistakes; she would patiently tolerate me and maybe she wondered in what hands the café has been given to.

Whatever work I talked about, she did it instantaneously without any procrastination. Tried new recipes, showed all the interest in cake decorations. One day we had to bake a cake for one of our staff member’s son’s birthday and I hesitated using frosting because then it would make it more expensive and it was being sold for a subsidized rate. She chose not to listen to me and make a frosting to decorate it her own way. I felt so small in front of her and in front of the way NIRMAN operates. All that had to be done was to whip up a little bit of butter with a little bit of sugar with a lot of love.

I could see that love in her for her colleague and his child. Didn’t cost us too much anyway. She takes initiatives, tells me what has to be done how. I rely on her. I am her baby. I cant do much without her neither can I do much without the other staff members.

The world is unfair at large. If she would have been well educated she could have been some company’s CEO, who knows.

- Gunjan

(manager, The Southpoint Café)

Monday, January 24, 2022

Challenging to challenge!

 At Vidyashram we make the process of learning fun and that too without compromising the learning objectives. In the past week I used crossword puzzles as fun and engaging tool for revising the geography chapters with class 6th,7th and 8th.

The processes of solving crossword puzzle gets the child to carefully read the hints and makes them look up for word meaning to completely understand the hint, all this effort is put to reach to the reword! the missing word. A challenge they face sometimes is to spell the word correctly and hence a deliberate effort to recheck the spellings is put, since a wrong spelling could lead them to a dead end with next connected word in the puzzle.

Solving a crossword puzzle related to the ongoing chapter was fun and children enjoyed it, but taking up a challenge is not challenging enough! So we decided to create our own crossword puzzles and put it up as a challenge to others. Since challenging someone is more fun!

In the process of making a difficult crossword puzzle children did not just stick to the book but went back to other reading materials and class notes that were provided to them.

Knowing the correct answer is one of indicators of the fact that the child has an understanding of the topic being covered but formulating clever (intelligent) questions from the topic indicates and provides a broader learning opportunity i.e clarity of the concept as well as ability to write it with clarity. Formulating the hints for the crossword puzzles gave the children the opportunity to play with words and come out with interesting and challenging hints.

To sum it up, the puzzle making activity was as engaging as it could be, keeping the children busy with writing work is a challenge and it becomes easy when integrated games and puzzles.

It was great sharing with you all about my class room update here. Will come back with more soon!

Thank you!


(English and Social Studies teacher, classes 6-10)

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Our Rituals

I have a personal ritual that I have created with my daughter. Every night, when we are tucked in bed, we say our gratitude prayer to our Creator. I say five things I am grateful for and my 7 year old daughter says five things she is grateful for. I love this exercise. My daughter comes up with very amazing things, such as one of the days she said about different colours of people and that she is grateful that some are dark, some fair and there are so many differences to celebrate. I had created this exercise with an  intention, to help her see how many things we already have and we don’t need new clothes or toys to feel happy as false advertising on television always promotes and children start believing it.

She is a student of Vidyashram-The Southpoint School. At Southpoint there are various rituals that children learn and follow in class. A ritual is any practice that is done everyday consistently so that it becomes part of our consciousness, it becomes a habit.  These rituals teach them to be responsible and active beings of their immediate environment. Some of the rituals include arranging own desks, cleaning own desks and chairs, cleaning up one’s own spaces such as classrooms and play areas. Such simple rituals are very powerful ones. They solve many problems existing in our country that of patriarchy, value of work done by hands, gender discrimination, waste that humans create and how to manage them.

If each child picks up the right habits, he becomes an active and contributory citizen. 

- Harshita

(Preschool and Primary school teacher; publicist)


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

My experience with the Change Makers

 It all starts with the tiniest step taken against the tide…….

The biggest hurdle to bring any change in society is that one single sentence we come across most often, "What can I do alone when everybody else is at fault?".

NIRMAN campus is that one place, where irrespective of whatever is happening outside the main gate, everybody within is trying hard to establish that ideal world we all dream to be in.

When entering the gates of NIRMAN, you must leave behind any preconceived notions about gender roles. Here, don't be surprised if you come across the first person beyond the gate to be a female, guarding the entrance to the campus. NIRMAN consciously makes every effort to twist the gender roles and does encourage everybody to push their limits to try new roles and don every hat possible at some point.

When at NIRMAN, you start believing that change is possible, only the resolute and perseverance is what is required.

The organization is committed to the preservation of nature as well. The environment that we live in today, is pervaded with all kinds of pollution, be it airborne, water carried or sound. NIRMAN has always tried to fight these menaces; primarily by instilling a culture of recycling, making paper and cloth bags, year-round plantation programs, organic farming, segregation of garbage, composting, etc. And secondly, by spreading awareness through various mediums. Once in the campus, you will get to be with lots of greenery, you might even see a huge tree right in the middle of the office, which never got cut off while building the office. The campus is a no-plastic zone.

The philosophy here lays down that peaceful coexistence is possible irrespective of what your religion is or what your socioeconomic background is. A school run under the aegis of NIRMAN, 'Vidyashram the Southpoint', has students from all diverse backgrounds, and they talk about the world at large, discuss various issues but only to seek solutions and not be the part of the problem.

The pedagogy adopted by the school ensures that the students learn to reason, are prepared to make decisions, and are able to follow their own path in life. And indeed, with such strong principles that the organization has put down as its inherent culture, the school run under its aegis becomes the ideal atmosphere to nurture young minds.

This culture is the hard work of NIRMAN's director Dr. Nita Kumar, who has been working persistently to sustain and maintain this ideology ever since its inception in 1990.

My 8years with this organization were pure bliss, I have learned a lot and even unlearned quite a few. It changed my view completely towards many aspects of life and got into purview many more issues which otherwise I might have very conveniently ignored my entire life.

~ Mitali Sengupta

               Mitali maam with her daughter, Hiya!

(Mitali Sengupta worked as the Manager at NIRMAN from the year July 2010 to January 2018)


Friday, November 20, 2020

Real Change


What is this space NIRMAN? Who is it created for? How much has it mattered?

 Last 8 years of my life, I have worked intensely with and in NIRMAN. It has definitely helped and helping me create and be the change I wish to see in this world. I like to often see and observe all the various happenings inside our campus as a witness, as an observer, like I do it for my own life. I am trying to do that here.

  Being at NIRMAN, I have learnt more than I have taught and that is one of the prerequisites if anyone wishes to join the workforce.

Let’s take you through a tour of this place. If you entered the gates of this campus, you will be met by plants, trees and flowers of all kinds and  people of all ages. You will see beautiful school walls and classrooms which feel like ‘home’. You will find children who are happy, relaxed and joyful in their different activities. Whether it be singing their English/ Hindi rhymes, or making a hut of mud, whether it be listening to stories and happily narrating their stories to their teacher, or deeply engrossed in their English sentences and numbers. The relationship of  the teacher and each individual child matters and it is emphasized time and again.

This is not just a school, it is a safe and secure world for children. Where else will you find a place, where each child is treated as a unique individual. As a child, one should have the freedom to touch the pinnacle of body and the horizons of mind. To make a child feel limited in his abilities takes away his basic freedom to live and prosper. In today’s world, this is happening everywhere, in homes and in schools. No place is safe and secure for children and one which gives them the freedom to be and learn at their pace and learning styles.

NIRMAN is a place where children are given the confidence to express their opinions and listen to others’ with respect because listening does not necessarily mean following but it means an expansion of mind and ideas. All forms of Arts are part of our life at NIRMAN and part of all children’s lives.

We observe and observe children. We keep researching into their little worlds where imaginary characters happily co-exist, where fairies and ghosts change forms, where there is beauty and organization, where there is a story in every thought.

I am inspired by the thought that gave birth to this place and the grit and determination of the people committed to it. I have met some ex- students. When they come visiting, I can see the love and adulation they have for this place and the teachers who taught them. They can confidently express their opinions and are into different kind of professions. They are happy in the choices they have made for themselves in life.

Our work has touched many families and it continues to inspire them to do better with their children and for them.

Any real change is small. And NIRMAN is one such example.

- Harshita.

( Harshita currently works as the Preschool Co-ordinator in Vidyashram- The Southpoint School and as Incharge of Events.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

निर्माण की शिक्षा व्यवस्था

 निर्माण की जो शिक्षा व्यवस्था है वह बिल्कुल नई शिक्षा नीति 2020 से , मिलती - जुलती है । शिक्षा मंत्रालय जिस नीति को अब लागू करने जा रहा है , उसे निर्माण संस्था पिछले 30 सालों से अपने अध्यापन कार्य में प्रयोग कर रही है। इस संस्था की नींव1990 में रखी गई थी तब से ही यह संस्था शिक्षा के क्षेत्र में निम्नलिखित बिंदुओं पर लागातार कार्यरत है । जैसे :-
1) 3-6 साल तक के बच्चों के लिए केयर एवं एजुकेशन की एक अलग तरह की शिक्षा व्यवस्था है और उनका अलग तरह का पाठ्यक्रम है, इसके अन्तर्गत उन्हें उनके वातावरण के प्रति जागरूक किया जाता है, उन्हें उनकी जिम्मेदारी सौंपी जाती है, ये भी सिखाया जाता है कि उन्हें अपनी बात कैसे दूसरों के सामने रखनी है? अपने शरीर और अपने सामान की कैसे देखभाल करना है ? किस तरह से और क्या खाएं कि वे स्वस्थ एवं मजबूत बने। इस उम्र के बच्चों के साथ इस प्रकार से कार्य किया जाता है कि उनकी हाथ की उंगलियों और आंखों का कोर्डिनेशन अच्छा हो सके। इसके लिए उन्हें तरह - तरह के खेल और क्रिया-कलाप कराये जाते हैं। उनकी उंगलियों की मांसपेशियां सही प्रकार से विकसित हों इसलिए उन्हें पेन्सिल का प्रयोग न करा कर मोम कलर से कार्य कराया जाता है।

2) निर्माण संस्था में बच्चों की शिक्षा की व्यवस्था ही इस प्रकार से की गई है कि उनमें नये - नये कौशल का विकास हो सके। कक्षा -१ से ही उन्हें विभिन्न कौशलों से परिचित करा दिया जाता है , जैसे :- रिसर्च करना, किसी का इंटरव्यू लेना, क्रियात्मक लेख, फ्री ड्राइंग, क्राफ्टवर्क, बागवानी आदि। उन्हें विभिन्न प्रकार की जिम्मेदारियां देकर लीडरशिप के गुण भी सिखा  देते हैं। जिम्मेदार बनाने के लिए उनको विद्यालय में अपने सामान को कहां रखना है , इसे कक्षाअध्यापिका सीखाती है, इसके लिए हर कक्षा में काॅपी-किताब, पानी की बोतल, टिफिन रखने की एक निश्चित जगह बनाई जाती है, जहां बच्चे इसे रखकर रोज़ अपना बैग खाली कर देते हैं और छुट्टी के बाद वापस इसे अपने बैग में रखते हैं। इस तरह से उन्हें बचपन से ही जिम्मेदार बनने की शिक्षा दी जाती है। इसी प्रकार रोज़ हर बच्चा कक्षा के बाहर ही अपना जूता-मोजा उतार कर कक्षा में प्रवेश करता है, इसके द्वारा वह अपने जूतों को लाईन में रखना और जूते की लेस बांधना सीखते हैं।

3) एक्सट्रा करिकुलम एक्टविटिज- मेन करिकुलम शामिल:- इसके अनुसार भी निर्माण में अध्यापन कार्य के लिए जो भी कार्ययोजना बनाई जाती है, उसी के साथ ही एक्सट्रा करिकुलम एक्टविटिज भी जोड़ दी जाती है , जैसे आर्ट, म्यूजिक, डांस, रिसर्च, नाटक, भ्रमण आदि। इन क्रियाकलापों के बिना निर्माण में कार्ययोजना अधूरी मानी जाती है।

4) रिपोर्टकार्ड में लाइफ स्किल शामिल:- इसके तहत भी निर्माण में रिपोर्टकार्ड  भी कई सालों से  इसी प्रकार प्रयोग किया जा रहा है, इसमें लाइफ स्किल के कई काॅलम होते ही हैं, जैसे कि म्यूजिक, डांस, योगा, थियेटर, कराटे, स्पोर्ट्स, सिलाई- कढ़ाई आदि ।

5) स्कूल के बाद वयस्क शिक्षा एवं लाईब्रेरी:- इस नीति के अनुसार भी निर्माण में एक बहुत बड़ी और अच्छी लाइब्रेरी है, जिसमें हर प्रकार और हर लेवल की पुस्तकें हैं। इस लाइब्रेरी में कोई भी बाहरी विद्यार्थी या पढ़ने का इच्छुक व्यक्ति आकर पढ़ सकता है, यह सबके लिए खुली हुई है, इसका कोई शुल्क नहीं लिया जाता है। इसका बस एक ही मकसद है कि लोगों में पुस्तक के प्रति प्रेम और अध्ययन में रूचि पैदा हो सके । इसी प्रकार वयस्को के लिए भी शिक्षा की व्यवस्था है , स्कूल के बाद सुचारू रूप से उनकी कक्षा चलती है और उनके लेवल के अनुसार उन्हें पढ़ाया जाता है। व्यस्कों में यहां पर नान टीचिंग स्टाफ को भी शिक्षित किया जाता है, जो जिस लेवल का होता है , उसे उसकी आगे की शिक्षा दी जाती है।

6) स्कूल लेवल पर वोकेशनल स्टडी पर फोकस:- इस नई शिक्षा नीति के अनुसार निर्माण संस्था में 30 सालों से वोकेशनल स्टडी पर फोकस किया जा रहा है। जैसे बागवानी, सिलाई -कढ़ाई, बढ़ईगिरी, कुकिंग आदि। इन सबकी कक्षाएं सप्ताह में एक दिन अवश्य रखी जाती है, ये उनके टाइम टेबल में लिखा रहता है और नियमित रूप से इन सबकी कक्षाएं संचालित होती हैं।

7) बैगलेस पिरियड (10दिन)  :-  इस नई शिक्षा नीति के अनुसार भी निर्माण संस्था पिछले कई सालों से कार्य करता चला आ रहा है , इस कार्य के लिए विद्यालय में जाड़े के दिनों में आर्ट कैंप लगाया जाता है, जिसमें बच्चों को 4 - 5 दिन तक स्कूल में ही रहना होता है उस दौरान बच्चे को बहुत ही नियोजित तरीके से वोकेशनल ट्रेनिंग दी जाती है, जैसे - मिट्टी के बर्तन बनाना, बांस की डलिया बनाना, चारपाई बनाना, स्वेटर बनाना, थियेटर, खाना बनाना आदि प्रकार के स्किल सीखाये जाते हैं। यह बहुत उपयोगी होता है बच्चे बहुत कुछ आनंद के साथ सीखते हैं। इसी प्रकार साल में चार से छह दिन ऐसा अवसर आता है, जबकि बच्चे बिना बैग के आते हैं और तमाम तरह की कलाएं सीखते हैं और अपनी हाथ से बनी हुई चीजों का प्रदर्शन करते हैं।

8) बैग का बोझ कम:- इसके अनुसार भी निर्माण में बैग का बोझ कम से कम ही रखने की कोशिश की जाती है जिसमें बच्चों की काॅपी-किताब स्कूल में ही रखने की व्यवस्था है, उन्हें वही काॅपी-किताब घर ले जाने की अनुमति दी जाती है , जिसमें कि गृहकार्य मिला हो। गृहकार्य भी बहुत ही सुनियोजित तरीके से ही दिया जाता है। यह पहले से ही निश्चित होता है कि एक दिन में किन-किन विषयों का और कितना गृहकार्य दिया जायेगा।

9) शिक्षा का माध्यम स्थानिय/क्षेत्रिय भाषा में होगा:- इस नीति के तहत भी निर्माण संस्था में नियम है कि अगर कोई बच्चा अपनी क्षेत्रीय भाषा में जबाव देता है या फिर उत्तर लिखता है तो उसे टोका नहीं जाता है और न ही उसे मना किया है, वह अपनी भाषा में अपनी बात को व्यक्त कर सकता है। यह एक अंग्रेजी माध्यम का स्कूल है इसलिए अंग्रेजी भाषा के साथ -साथ अन्य भाषाओं को भी उसी प्रकार महत्व दिया जाता है, जैसे कि अंग्रेजी को। समय-समय पर बच्चे नाटक, लेखन, नृत्य-संगीत आदि के माध्यम से अन्य क्षेत्रीय भाषाओं को भी सीखते रहते हैं।

10) सभी चरणों में प्रायोगिक परीक्षा:- निर्माण में प्रत्येक सत्र में सभी विषयों में सिर्फ लिखित परीक्षा न होकर बल्कि साथ-साथ प्रायोगिक परीक्षा भी ली जाती है।

11) सामग्री विचार- अनुप्रयोग, समस्या समाधान पर केन्द्रित होगी:- निर्माण संस्था में शिक्षा व्यवस्था ही इस प्रकार की गई है कि वह समस्या समाधान पर केन्द्रित हो। बच्चों को पढ़ाने की पद्धति और उन्हें प्रश्न-उत्तर लिखने का तरीका, परीक्षा में पूछे जाने वाले प्रश्न-पत्र इस प्रकार तैयार किए जाते हैं कि वे उसका उत्तर अपने जीवन से जोड़ कर प्रश्नों के उत्तर लिख पायें और वे उसे अपने जीवन से जोड़ कर भविष्य में आने वाली समस्या को सुलझा सकें

12) पाठ्य पुस्तक सामग्री को कम करना:-  निर्माण संस्था में एन.सी.आर.टी. की ही पुस्तकें पढ़ाई जाती हैं लेकिन इसके साथ -साथ अन्य बहुत सारी चीजों को जोड़ने और कुछ टाॅपिक को टीचर कम करने के लिए भी स्वतंत्र हैं। यहां पर इस बात पर ज़ोर नहीं दिया जाता है कि किसी भी तरह करके  कोर्स पूरा हो जाये बल्कि इस बात पर जोर दिया जाता है कि जो बच्चे को पढ़ाया गया है, उसे वह अच्छी तरह से समझ पाये और अपने जीवन में प्रयोग कर सकें।

13) पोषण और स्वास्थ्य कार्ड, स्कूल के छात्रों के लिए नियमित स्वास्थ्य जांच :- इस नई शिक्षा नीति के तहत हम यह बताना चाहेंगे कि निर्माण संस्था में एडमिशन के समय ही अभिभावकों से बच्चे का मेडिकल सर्टिफिकेट मांगा जाता है और फिर उसी के अनुसार उसकी शिक्षा व्यवस्था की जाती है। समय- समय पर उसके अभिभावक से भी हेल्थ के बारे में बात करते रहते हैं। डॉक्टर को बुला कर स्वास्थ्य परीक्षण भी करवाते हैं। इस विषय पर अभिभावकों के लिए वर्कशॉप आयोजित करते हैं, जिसमें यह बताया जाता है कि किस प्रकार के पोषक तत्वों से भरपूर चीजें बच्चों के आहार में शामिल करना चाहिए और उनके घर की दिनचर्या किस प्रकार होनी चाहिए जिससे कि बच्चे का स्वास्थ्य अच्छा रहे। स्कूल में भी उन्हें रोज़ कोई भी एक मौसमी फल खाने के लिए  प्रोत्साहित किया जाता है और उसे खाने के लिए स्कूल में ही समय निर्धारित कर दिया जाता है, जिससे कि वे स्वस्थ रह सकें। इसी के साथ -साथ यह भी ध्यान रखा जाता है कि क्या वे टिफिन लाते हैं और क्या लाते हैं , ठीक से खाते हैं कि नहीं ये सारी चीजें नियमित रूप से चेक की जाती हैं। जो बच्चे टिफिन नहीं ला पाते हैं उन्हें स्कूल से ताजा पोषण युक्त भोजन दिया जाता है।

                     इस प्रकार से देखा जाए तो निर्माण संस्था  बहुत समय पहले से ही नई शिक्षा नीति के नियमों का पालन कर रही है और उसमें वह सफल भी हुई है ,इसका हमारे पास प्रमाण भी है क्योंकि जो बच्चे इस संस्था से पढ़ कर निकलें हैं वे अपने क्षेत्र में सफल हैं और बहुत अच्छा कार्य कर रहे हैं।

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