A Revolution In Education

 

 

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.

Morning School Assembly

 

Meditation During Morning School Assembly

 

Meditation During Morning School Assembly

 

Distributing Music Instruments

 

Singing At The Morning School Assembly

 

4th Grade Teacher Shanti Mamgain With Students

 

6th-Grader Tunnah Explaining Math To The 4th-Grader Arvind

 

Independent Study

 

After Morning Assembly

 

Kindergartners Imitating Their Photographer

 

At Recess As Soon As The Camera Was Spotted

 

Perfect Timing!

 

Kindergartners' Excursion To The Forest

 

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.

No Grades

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:

  • Facilitates concentration as it is only in the present moment that it is possible to maintain a strong and consistent attention span.
  • Alleviates discouragement from students who have trouble learning certain material or learn at a slower pace.
  • Shifts intention from simple memorization of a given material to taking the time for intuitive comprehension.
  • Promotes work ethic as learning is no longer treated as means to an end, but is given quality, time and attention.
  • Removes competition, which yields individually acquired information to the collective knowledge and minimizes chances for a possible conflict between students.

The School

The school operates based on the following assumptions:

  • All children are born artists.
  • All children come with wisdom.
  • The gateway to education is through creativity.
  • Through a creative process, students are engaged in learning.
  • There is no such a thing as a mistake.
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:

“Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.”

Translated into 53 languages, received almost 8 million views worldwide.

ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html


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.

 

Vlad Kuperman
vlad@aifclintonfellowship.org
http://www.apvschool.org

You Might Also Like

6 thoughts on “A Revolution In Education

  1. Amazing Article! Very well written! The school is an ideal all schools should strive for! This article was very inspirational and leaves you feeling more free and driven after reading it. This also depicts the high quality volunteers chosen contribute and teach at this program. And fantastic photos!

  2. This is indeed a great article, which signifies importance of organic learning at APV. Committed volunteers and teachers are changing lives by quality education.

  3. This sounds like you are not only educating children with zeal and enthusiasm, but they in turn are also teaching you. I suppose this feeds into the students and teachers being friends. They are just as lucky to have you as you are to have this experience!

  4. Vlad bhai,

    Wonderful portrait of the APV experience! Your words and pictures fill me the positivity and hope that APV radiates.

    Sending buena energia and Metta.

    ~John

  5. Now that I have seen the magic myself, this post is even more inspiring and significant. Awesome job on the blog, and I hope the beautiful growth of this community of learners and livers thrives even more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Us

Stay up to date on the latest news and help spread the word.

AMERICAN INDIA FOUNDATION IS A REGISTERED 501 (C)(3) Charity. © 2020
NEW YORK | CALIFORNIA | NEW DELHI

Privacy Policy

Get Involved

Our regional chapters let you bring the AIF community offline. Meet up and be a part of a chapter near you.

Join a Chapter