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How to create a self directed learning environment
We believe that children can decide what they want to learn, how they want to learn, with whom they want to learn, how much they want to learn and how well they want to learn. In short we believe children can LEAD their own life.
Over the last sixteen years - we have been on a long and exciting journey doing exactly the above (visit aarohilife.org). So here is what we think one needs to consider when putting together an environment which creates learning leaders.
Design to Reach NOwhere
Shiva is excited about butterflies. He spends a lot of time catching them, talking to them, talking about them, releasing them. He makes them listen to his favourite songs and observes how they dance to them. He gives them his own names.
He has no need to show to anybody his growing knowledge, his understanding, his passion. Personal journeys do not have a destination, the engine chughs endlessly.
Design to FAIL
Sahil is designing stand alone tippity taps. His tap leaks. He tries a ton of m-seal and it still leaks. He starts again and it still leaks. He tries a different way and it still leaks, a little.
He has no need to hide his failure. He likes his disasters so much that he shows them off to everybody and is infinitely open to all suggestions. Learning endeavors do not end with a failure, they stress that learning (and life) is iterative.
Design to Accept
Twesha likes crafting (making things with paper and hand) all the time. He is spending hours bending over reams of paper bending them to make his imagination of guns, swords, robots etc come alive in 3D. When is not making paper models, he is making paperless models in his head.
There is no hurry to get Twesha to do something else. His passion and his interest are the heavy core whose gravity will invariably and ultimately collate a lot of learning around itself.
Design to Collaborate
Varsha has not come here to learn. That is not her objective. Rather her agenda is to hob nob, to interact, to do things together, to co-create joy. What possibilities such an amalgamated day generates cannot be caught in words.
Varsha knows this. That is why in spite of occasional conflicts, in spite of sometime being teased and in spite of age, gender, language disparity - she fully embraces companionship. In the word “learning” - it is the energy of synergy that's INGing.
Dhrupad is learning division. Just that everyday he chooses a different way of learning it - one day a book, another day a video from Khan academy, another day he seeks out a peer to demonstrate and yet another day enjoys using some manipulatives.
He is able to make friends with division because he meets it in so many ways. The only standardization that education should offer each child is a multitude of choices for every learning.
Design to Discover
Radhika does not have many questions. Neither does she have many answers. Interim, she explores. Sometimes she does gardening, sometimes she reads stories, sometimes she makes sandwiches, sometimes she observes night sky and sometimes she does nothing. But slowly, without warning, just like the shooting stars, learning pops out for her from nowhere - a new word, a scientific concert, a mathematical procedure, a social insight, ...
Its not that learning for her is random. its because we all know the joy of discovering it oneself - that we just left it happen to her. And you bet she is busy collecting.
Design to Expose
If you wanted to give gifts to Shreyas, give him gifts of opportunities. His inertia to try something new is huge, but he loves meeting people who do different things. And through these interactions with the personalities of the world, he is slowly growing his own map of possibilities. Every new interaction only shows to him that the highway called life is lined with magical mysterious unknown pathways.
Its not my job to show him where to go. Its his job as a learner to see where all he wants to go.
Design to Reflect
At the fall of the day, the mood at aarohi is usually quiet. Davin is thinking and so is Arsalan and Ansh and Skanda and Yashas. Questions that surround them everyday are different but essentially about the day, “What efforts did I put today?”, “What did each of my effort change the quality of my day?”, “What differently will I do tomorrow?”
In the journey of life, it seldom matters how good I am, but it everyday matters how good my day was. A child is not getting education for tomorrow. The child is actually living a today. And one who lives a self directed day, lives a self directed life.