We often forget the tedium of homework, rambling of teachers and red stamps on report cards, in a heady haze of nostalgia, when we think about our school years. However, once you remove those rose-tinted glasses, chances are that uncomfortable questions with respect to the educational system might come up—where it was alright to spend hours thinking about the periodic table but spend little to no time on essay writing. There is no doubt that whenever we talk about education in India, everyone starts complaining about how bureaucratic the system is. However, the upcoming generation of urban parents are evidently evolving and making an effort by enrolling their kids at ‘Alternative Education Academies’ that aim at providing a different environment of learning for students, depending on their capabilities and interests.
Many Indian religious and philosophical leaders, like Swami Vivekananda, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Maharishi Yogananda, Satya Sai Baba, have set up schools across the nation that follow alternative ways of teaching. As we all know, the Right to Education Act has made education compulsory for all children below the age of 14, but our systems haven’t changed much beyond that.
Parents believe that alternative education is complementary to their child’s personality. Jiddu Krishnamurti, a philosopher believes, “Education is not just to pass examinations, take a degree, get a job, get married and settle down, but also to be able to listen to the birds, to see the sky, to see the extraordinary beauty of a tree, and the shape of the hills, and to feel with them, to be really, directly in touch with them.”
As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the only yearly annual source of data on kids’ learning results accessible in rustic India, only 25.1% of the understudies enlisted in standard III can read standard II level content and only 47.8% of the understudies selected in standard V can read standard II level content. The latest report concluded, “Many parents of school-going children do not have any or much education. They understand the importance of schooling but often do not understand how they can support children’s learning. Hence, there is a need to de-mystify learning to involve parents.”
Given that alternative schools have smaller class sizes, children get a lot more individual attention and are free to progress at their own pace. This is made possible because the educationists at such spaces don’t expect all children in a class to be at the same level at the same time; the belief instead is that each child is unique.
Another aspect of alternative philosophy is that most educators appreciate that the future is largely unknown and that the best we can do is to ensure children can adapt, learn, un-learn and re-learn skills that will help them navigate an ever-changing world. The future can never be ‘mastered’ by getting high grades, as most children are led to believe. It can only be ‘lived’, and therefore mindset is probably more important than anything else in navigating an unpredictable future.
And the facts back this up; students in alternative schools end up doing better than the ones in regular schools. Most alternative schools don’t follow prescribed textbooks except for language study and mathematics. Teachers are always encouraged to create their own learning material, sometimes involving children too; letting the child understand the process of learning is part of the overall educational process.
The belief is that adhering to textbooks could promote rote learning which is not encouraged; instead teachers find creative ways to make learning more fun and a lot more effective.
These are a list of alternative schools you can read about which are revolutionising the education space:
- Mirambika Free Progress School
- Aarambh Waldorf School
- The Hypnotherapy School of India
- Edha Education Foundation
- Manava Bharti International School
- Indian Institute of Mass Communication
And this list is growing—a hopeful sign that alternative education is more widely accepted today than ever before. We at MyNT share the same ideas and beliefs; check out our website if you want to learn more about giving your child a fulfilling and immersive learning experience.