Lessons in Learning

“I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”                               --- John Taylor Gatto

This quote somehow leads one to question the elaborate and special systems of education that we’ve developed over generations. It almost seems as if these systems were built on the assumption that children are little more than dullards who must be taught how to ‘think’ or ‘be educated’, at the expense of losing the free self or the genius the child already is. Perhaps if left to themselves, children will actually think more and better, develop independent ideas out of actual experiences rather than the artificial associations that are drilled into them through conventional teaching methods. Or perhaps not.

When it comes to recounting our school years, we often think of light-hearted incidents like punishments for talking in class, playing small pranks on friends, or even reading out the chit you tried to pass across the class. Or maybe we’ll recall more serious aspects like homework and red marks on report cards. Children tend to experience the same school or educational system in unique ways. Hence, what about creating learning experiences that are customised to children’s natural inclinations, needs, and aptitudes? The idea of alternative schools surely strikes a chord of interest here, as they are often much more open to and accepting of an individual child’s flaws and strengths. Bringing in a refreshing emphasis on applied education and reducing the importance of rote learning methods, this method of teaching recognises that children are not some sort of mechanical beings to be led into mechanical adulthood.

While the concept of unconventional schools is relatively new and is yet to take root in the country, they are an important part of the educational system and have numerous advantages. More parents are opting for these newer systems, through which their children are exposed to a variety of innovative teaching and learning methods.
Here we discover some unconventional systems of education that are being followed in various parts of the world. Note that these differ from the Montessori and Waldorf styles of education that are already available in the city. Take a look.     --- Sumana

Reggio Emilia

Unique feature: Classrooms are designed to look and feel like home. Origin: Teacher Loris Malaguzzi founded a new approach to early childhood education after World War II. Named after the city in northern Italy where he hails from, the Reggio Emilia approach attracted a serious following in 1991 in the US.

Reggio Emilia is a learning approach used for teaching children aged three to six. It’s based on the philosophy that children are curious, competent, and confident, and can thrive in an environment where there’s mutual respect between teacher and student. The method emphasises the importance of parents’roles in their child’s early education. While the curriculum is flexible, classrooms are designed to look and feel like home, and there are almost no set lesson plans. It concentrates on a child’s growth on his or her own terms, and exploring the world together by supporting their thinking rather than just giving them ready-made answers. Since this system is geared to fostering the full human potential in both intellectual and creative terms, art supplies are an important component of the classroom. The teachers document children’s development extensively, and file the artwork and notes about the stories behind each piece of art.   - Pic: blog.bennettday