Education and school environments play the biggest role in moulding the generations of tomorrow and their attitudes towards nature. Hema Patidar talks about how she was inspired to turn her Indore school into an institution of holistic education and all-round development.
I read once that the whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. Being an academician, it is not an easy task, but the journey is most satisfying if we can open those windows and let the light in. We need to open these windows for ourselves, but also for our children, who we wish will become conscious citizens of our planet.
I have been running a CBSE school in Indore, Madhya Pradesh for many years now. But I felt that what we were offering to our children was not enough to help them grow into the earth-conscious citizens they ought to become. It made me restless, and I went on a quest to look for a place where I could learn about Holistic Education. After a lot of research, and a ton of reading, my husband and I zeroed in on Bhoomi College as the place where we could learn about education for a sustainable tomorrow.
The course dispelled many of my notions about the education system, and especially the teaching pedagogy that we were implementing back in Indore. The many vibrant discussions that I was a part of, the observation classes, and the many field visits allowed me to chart a plan for my school. It built the foundation of education, sustainable living, and the many interconnections within it. It also introduced us academicians to concepts like Multiple Intelligence, Strengths Theory, and Learning Styles, and also gave us a perspective on how our preferred patterns as individuals play out in the classroom.
At the same time, my Karma Bhoomi beckoned me to put these learning methodologies into action, and I was eager to go back to Indore and start my journey.
After returning to Indore, I started to translate my learning into practice. Our first project was trying to solve the issue of water in the school. Our borewells had gone dry, and there was no other source of water. The school had become completely dependent on tankers. So we decided to focus on rainwater harvesting. We involved students from the boarding school who really enjoyed working on the project.
We conducted many experiments to help children understand the characteristics of water. Through interesting activities like drawings, project work, song & dance, and stories, the children engaged further with the theme. We also conducted a water rally and role-play as part of this theme-based learning. My hope is that these children will go back to their towns and spread the awareness further.
From a school that followed traditional teaching methodologies, we gradually transformed to a school where children receive opportunities to express and develop holistically. We started the practice of morning circle time so children could share their thoughts and feelings.
My journey made me realize the importance and role of nature in the development of children, and I have introduced organic gardening, composting, a silent zone in the canteen and nature walks. Incorporating nature walks helped students become keen observers and develop an affinity towards nature. However, we had to start this exercise with the teachers before we started it with the students, and I hope to bring a change in the thinking of parents through their children.
I took personal interest in starting an organic garden with the pre-primary kids. As a teacher, I reveled in the joy of seeing little hands planting seeds, their glimmering eyes excited about seeing tiny shoots growing in the soft red soil. The senior students also arranged a vegetable market in the school campus.
They sold spinach, coriander, fenugreek, onions, tomatoes, radish, and carrots that were harvested in school.
I now have the strength and positivity needed to evolve San Marino into a school where children are nurtured to face real life challenges and become conscious earth citizens.
(The author was a student of the Holistic Education course at Bhoomi College. She is a Director with the San Marino Public School, Indore.)