Time to Revisit Schooling
Children are like sponges, assimilating everything from their surroundings. They effortlessly learn their mother tongue and other languages around them, without much intervention. Children learn to express emotions and understand emotions at a tender age, primarily by observation.
They are curious learners, but somewhere burdened by the current education system, this curiosity wanes. Moving on to the next class, getting admitted into university, and collecting certificates appear to be the passport to good life. Having spent our formative years complying and competing, we struggle when we are asked to innovate and collaborate. Our current schooling was designed to fulfill the needs of The Industrial Age, to produce compliant workers using a rigid structure and defined guidelines. This system is inherently flawed in building the qualities of decision-making, creativity, collaboration, and leadership that are imperatives today.
Workers vs Entrepreneurs
At present there are 17.7 million educated unemployed people in India. As our education improves, this situation would worsen with more job seekers in the already burdened marketplace . We need entrepreneurial individuals, who can create jobs. Students of today should be able to address the problems of tomorrow, and in the process provide employment to others. This is only possible when children never lose their disposition to learn, think, and question.
Learning Spaces - Creativity | Curiosity | Collaboration
Learning Spaces provide an environment where children work on activities that allow them to collaborate, explore, observe, experiment, think, analyze, create, play, and learn in the process. They have the freedom to learn what they like, at their pace, with support and encouragement from peers, facilitators, and volunteers.
Elements of a Learning Space
Learning portals like Khan Academy, Reading A-Z, and FunBrain that have revolutionized education are available to children through a broad band connection. They are free to explore the world of Google, Wikipedia, Youtube and the likes. Children and school teachers use internet to research topics discussed in the class.
Apart from the content available online, Learning Spaces provide books to read, puzzles to construct, and other brain games like Tangrams, Mind Master, Scrabble, Jumble etc. to help children develop their learning and thinking abilities.
A plethora of activities catering to multiple human-intelligences is available to children. They are free to explore the world of microorganisms, perform drama, dance, clay model, create paper art, and engage in various critical thinking exercises. Mini design projects make an integral part of the Learning Spaces. Apart from this, children collaborate to find answers to "thought questions" that are the basis of covering topics in Science, History, Geography, and Economics.
Our body functions when all organs work in coordination with each other; family grows when we work together and care for each other; society grows when all elements come together to share and care. Collaboration and not competition is at the heart of every growing ecosystem. At Learning Spaces collaborating, and helping others learn is the way to go. Children are mixed across ages, so they help each other learn, and grow in the process.
Involvement of parents, teachers, and other community members is key for children to learn and develop. Avenues for the community to involve:
Back to learning - Spaces in communities are open to women during school time.
Story-telling - Sharing wisdom and learning with children.
Vocational skills - Teaching traditional skills to the new generation.