As teachers we need to be facilitators and lifelong learners ourselves. We need to nurture and value our own warmth, openness, maturity and enthusiasm, to understand our world and engage with positive action in it. We need to take charge of our wellbeing so that we spontaneously exude our aliveness and co-create a happy learning space for children and adults.
With this belief in mind Prakriya has designed various ways of supporting the learning and personal growth of our facilitators. Two Saturdays a month are reserved for workshops, sharing, reflection, collaboration and planning. Retreats, process labs, feedback, book review sessions and mentoring provide opportunities to facilitators to understand themselves and co-hold a philosophy of meaningful living and a vibrant work culture.
Children reflect the diversity of Nature and as educators we must respect the multiple interests, ways of learning and propensities of each child, especially in the early years. So learning has to be age appropriate – and also in tune with the child’s natural way of learning. This is best done by providing a suitable social and natural environment for her to ‘be’, owning up her natural enthusiasm to relate and express herself in the space around her.
The smallest children at Prakriya learn through “the emergent curriculum”. Mixed age group classes, active learning, real life projeccts, holistic thinking sessions and more have been designed to suit the expanding horizons of children. We believe that there are always ways to go beyond academic requirements and make learning more meaningful for every child.
We cannot ‘teach’ anyone critical or ‘wholistic’ thinking, the ability to question or the habit of learning on one’s own inititative. But in an environment where adults are non-judgmental and invite questioning, where they are also thinking, creative people, children have a better opportunity to ‘pick up’ these abilities and strengths.
Prakriya also provides opportunities to develop intellectual rigour and understanding the world we live in through real-life projects, projects that connect us with issues concerning creative work, ecological and human wellbeing.
These processes of holistic thinking and owning up a sense of purpose may be more important in these shifting times than we imagine. Prakriya is a school that has integrated much research as well as common sense into its philosophy, facilitator education and curriculum design.
We believe that there are two major connections which give us a great sense of grounding, other than our families - our relationship with Mother Earth and our cultural heritage.
In the dazzling globalized world we live in today, we are also sobered down with the biggest ecological crises in history faced by human kind - climate change as well as land degradation, water famine, deforestation and more. Today, we need schools that help us connect to this realities – and to the Earth that we are an intrinsic part of.
Another aspect of globalisation and post Independent India is that most children grow up without much appreciation of our amazing Indian heritage. They need to know of India’s significant contribution to the world through Mathematics, Astronomy, Ayurveda, Yoga, Sanskrit and much more.
We have been committed to go beyond factory schooling which gives scant attention to the Earth that supports life and our culture which created us.
All great thinkers and philosophers around the world emphasise the need for self-enquiry and self-understanding. But in the modern school system it has become merely incidental.
Reading and writing, concepts and information help in acquiring knowledge, but we need conversations and reflection to foster self awareness and wisdom.
So at Prakriya, there are many spaces for conversations and group participative learning. Children regularly have circle time and “House Meetings”; panchayat meetings are spaces where children from multiple classes meet and engage in discussions or activities. Here facilitators avoid preaching and foster non-judgmental exploration of real-life situations; and children speak out without fear of evaluation.