And now, organic teaching

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May 17th, 2011 Lipi Mohapatra

Do you really need books, the rote learning that currently exists, the pressure of exams and all the grind that comes along with it to get school education?

If education for children becomes stress-free and a process of healing, will the learning process be any different? Yes, says Sreenanda Parida.

Parida runs the Waldorf-inspired movement in academics called Education as a Work of Art (EAWOA). It nurtures the pedagogy of ‘Love and Compassion’, a curriculum that is Vedic and draws upon our rich Indian mythological traditions. These workshops are for children aged between 7 and 14. Occasionally, it is run as a parallel programme for schoolchildren.

The education system in India has been criticised by many for its inability to encourage independent thinking and creativity. A child needs well-rounded development of mind, body and spirit for overall growth.

Learning does not just involve the mind or brain. It involves every part of the body and is about how you feel when you encounter scientific concepts. It is about how and what you remember, when you touch something, for instance. It translates to learning when you see a mathematical formula solving a complex problem.

This teaching method in EAWOA is different as there are no textbooks for both teachers and children. Lessons are designed according to a curriculum and pedagogy, yet they are very personal.

An integrated approach is used to assess a child’s progress in terms of both his emotional quotient and grasping (learning) ability. The progress here is on an emotional level and cognitive level, and is not marked or graded, but is discussed with parents.

In this teaching process, there is neither rote learning nor any exams. “Life lessons are discovered and it’s not just about academic content,” says Parida.

She adds that teaching here happens in an ‘organic’ manner; it believes in following the rhythm in nature and always connects the universal rhythm with the rhythm within us. For example, like breathing. It happens naturally in us every moment without stress. Similarly, learning according to this method happens naturally.

‘Lesson plans’ too are like a work of art.

Wherever introduced, this method of teaching has found immediate acceptance and momentum. But it remains to be seen whether ‘organic’ teaching will be able to replace the ‘fast food’ variety of education anytime soon.

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