What is project?

I was asked a quetsion “What is project?” Here is my journey with projects at O-campus

When we shifted to O-campus, we were very excited with the opportunities it opened up for – we wanted kids to do everything – take part in gardening, exploring nature at campus, work in solar, work with water system, work on construction, explore wildlife and document, work in kitchen, wok on cooking………………..the list was long.

All the above ideas were ours. We could have lead, made kids do that, make kids learn many things, make kids involved in many projects. But we ask question to ourselves “what will we gain? what will child gain?

  • Our gain – feeling of achievement that kids are doing many things
  • Kids gain – add in list that they are doing many things
  • Parents gain – sense of comfort, kids are learning.

In the whole process, I wanted to re-visit kids gain. What else kids can gain? What about sense of “leading my own learning?” We can lead them now, they will follow us and do also, what about after that? They still be following us? Is that we want?

So, we kept all our projects to ourselves. We let all kids take their own time to observe and absorb on what is happening around. Kids were surrounded with many opportunities, People around them were working on different projects, Environment around them was stimulating and exciting to think but they were not forced to take up any opportunities.

Soon they were excited and wanted to do many things. Solar oven, electrical, painting, treehouse, cafe, gardening, farming, construction………….Yes they wanted to do. Till this stage we were only with them in their struggle to understand what they want to do – do little and leave, commit and not do, decide and not do, set goal and do something else……………………………

This was the time to be with their struggle, the facilitation was more on “what you want do?, Try differently? what else? Do this much……………sometimes assist, sometimes push, sometimes with constraints, sometimes with choices, sometimes just be with them. The stage of becoming aware of myself, my needs, my struggle, my strengths, my constraints, my responses. Each one had their own response to different kinds of facilitation. The focus was on “becoming aware of self” and not on content of the project.

Some still continue with this journey while, some discovered what they want and how they want. They started taking responsibilities of their projects. They started owning the projects. They started thinking about what they want to do, they started putting constraints on themselves, they started bringing challenges for themselves and working through the various struggle they faced. (for example some decide that they will not buy seeds, but grow from seeds they find on the road, from fruits after we eat them). The facilitation was more of being with them. Assisting with many possible resources for them, arranging more complicated exposures for them. The same children who were not receiving the challenges, now were putting constraints on themselves and finding joy in challenges and fun in taking responsibility..

Project ranged from cleaning resources, cleaning paint on the floor, repairing football………………..to adopting pets, kitchen garden, making tree house and so on. It was not about what project they were doing, it was about what process they were going through, how many ways they were doing it and how they were finding own space in those challenges.

Its a journey cannot be duplicated for two kids.