|It has been three months since my arrival to the beautiful foothills of the Himalayas where a radical revolution in education has been growing for over eight years. The project was piloted by a great visionary, Anand Dwivedi in collaboration with a former AIF fellow Marc Alongi. Ashram Paryavaran Vidyalaya (APV) School was founded on the philosophical premises, which states that knowledge is that which liberates. At APV, teachers employ a holistic approach to education where in addition to the government curriculum students learn about the ego and self-imposed limitations. This knowledge serves as a tool to elevate oneself above the constraints of fear, doubt, assumptions, habits and unconscious behavioral patterns. APV aspires to construct a space for discovery of innate talents and creativity where mindfulness of action and attention on the task in the present are naturally promoted.|
This tool is mainly given through the medium of songs and enhanced with meditation. Each morning, students pick songs from an array of over sixty beautiful compositions which Anand has written. The school assembly begins with a thirty minute meditation followed by singing and playing with an earsplitting volume. A half hour later, students and teachers are fueled with fantastic energy to pilot the school day.
Students and Teachers Are Friends
At APV, the relationship between students and teachers is extraordinary as teachers come to class to learn together with students. It is an interesting concept as it preserves equality between a child and an adult as well as naturally instigates students to learn independently. The notion is that children imitate adults and so opt to learn by means of entertainment as suggested by a teach-by-behavior presence of an adult. Another powerful practice has been to have older students teach younger classes. It has shown to reinforce knowledge in student teachers and further attract youth to learning.
When micromanagement and pressures are lifted from the classroom, students experience freedom, which is an essential ingredient in real happiness. When the mind is content, thoughts significantly decrease and attention can then effortlessly shift to the now. For a mind which has not yet had years of training in focused attention in the present moment, happiness is a basic condition.
To further engage students in learning, the grading system has been removed. Students receive only feedback from teachers on the quality of work and demonstrated knowledge. It is primarily done to remove the fear of failing and judgment, which may only occur in some future.
The benefits of this method:
The school operates based on the following assumptions:
|The ultimate success of APV is that the students are in high spirit. They have the freedom to be organic, which consequently boosts energy, attentiveness and interest. At present, the project is self-perpetuated by a strong community of ninety like-minded students. They eagerly trek to school six days a week ready to support each other in their intellectual and spiritual growth. It is not surprising that children prefer to spend more time at school than at home.There is still much work to be done at APV and it will take more time and people to fine-tune the exercised approach. However, there is now a very strong foundation upon which a great sky-riser is being built. It is an experiment in redefining education, which is imminent to reach a critical mass as it has been talked about for years. More importantly, it is a real life archetype which demonstrates to the world that it could be done.|
|Recommended TED Talk:|
Translated into 53 languages, received almost 8 million views worldwide.
|As a child, I dreamt about attending a school like APV. My intuition was already manifesting in my daydreams and I sensed that there could be a better learning environment. We all sensed. It has been a privilege to partake in this revolution as it is quite possibly the future of education. I am inspired and encouraged to resonate the world’s desperate longing for change and would like to wish to you, dear reader, to never grow out of imagination. Never allow yourself to get educated out of creativity. Dare to dream and to create. Be an individual. It is not arrogant to disagree with the rest of the world. Envision a model environment where you and the future generations would thrive in.|
It is likely that for some, transitioning from APV to the government schools may not be an easy phase as grades, competition, pressures and expectations are plugged in again. Never the less, I believe that today there are extraordinary beings walking this planet, capable of enduring this shift. I believe they are here to pave the road for future generations just as their forefathers have done. Are you that extraordinary being? If you are breathing, you are.
I invite you to visit the school, spend time with students and teachers, volunteer, trek in the mountains, and experience this miraculous innovation for yourself.