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India, Thelpara : Transformative Education and Assumption Public School


Assumption Public school, Antonykkad Thelpara is a newly born Educational institution of the province of India. It was a long awaited dream of the Province, to have a school of our own and this is the realization of it. “Assumption Public school” is situated in a village surrounded by Rubber plantation, with natural beauty all around, a beautiful river running as boundary which originates from the forest nearby, and high mountains that separates Kerala from Tamil Nadu.

The “school” at present functions in the sister’s residence until the proper school building is ready. It has at present only Lower K G and Upper K G. (kinder garden) with a total number of 45 children of age between 4 and 6.

The tiny tots of this school are from the locality, and mainly Christians. A few of them are non Christians mainly Hindus and Muslims. These kids play, study, and grow in the lap of Nature. They hear the song of the river, breath fresh and uncontaminated air and are free from any kinds of pollution. As they are away from the city, they are not much exposed to city life and its dangers.

Nature is our Mother. We form an integral part of its health and life. From this early stage onwards we teach the students how to take care and protect our mother Earth. In our system of education eco friendliness occupies an important part. And we transmit this value in different ways. Besides taking care of the plants nearby, each one was given a seedling to take home. Children were very excited to carry home their plant. They were given instruction, to name the plant, and report its wellbeing to the teacher occasionally. Most of them gave their seedling the names of their favorite heroes or cartoon characters. It was reported that with the help of their parents each child planted the seedling and is taking care of it. From the part of the school we do visit the homes of all children to know their well beings, to interact with their parents etc. Thus the transformative education is not only directly to children but it includes parents and other members of family.

The communityAnother aspect of our Education is learning values. Children learn values at the initial stage of education. As they are loved, cared and appreciated at home it becomes easy for teachers to inculcate values in the budding stage of their life.

We believe that values are ideals that give meaning to human existence which impel people to opt for priorities that will enhance their thinking, striving, and life style. Thus values are imbibed from childhood often unconsciously which is part of the transformation.

Every week one value is chosen. The choice is participatory, children propose and we take it into consideration. For one week we choose the value of ‘speak the truth”. It was proposed by children. When occasion comes for e.g. if one says something which is not true, children remind each other to speak the truth. Innocence is one of the qualities of childhood. Let me share with you an incident related to this.

One day as I entered the classroom just to be with them for a short time, I noticed a photo pasted on the wall was scribbled and disfigured. I thought it was a golden opportunity to amend the habit of such an action. So I sat with them chatted with them and brought to their attention to what has happened to the photo. All the children agreed that it was not the right thing, but there was silence in class not knowing who scribbled over the photo and nobody was willing to own up. I recalled their choice of the value of the week “speak the truth “I told them every one makes mistakes but the beautiful thing is to own up the mistake and decide not to repeat it. Spontaneously one by one began to say , it is not me...it is not me…The beautiful moment occurred when I saw two little eyes staring at me wanting to say something. Then I understood that little Vishnu (a five year old boy) wanted to own up the mistake. I took the opportunity and told the student that Vishnu will speak now .So he said softly that it was he who did it. I appreciated the child for his honesty and how beautiful it is to speak the truth. There was happiness in the classroom and they appreciated Vishnu for telling the truth. He too was happy and joined with others to sing and dance. This is one among many example how little children learn beautiful things which will remain with them lifelong.

Each moment is a crystal in formation. We allow each moment to fashion a life of choice for within each moment is the miracle of creation. We practice Transformative education in forming the little ones in small things. We focus on what is happening in the student rather than what the teacher is teaching. Often the need of the students is approached in a different way by individual attention and interaction. The classroom climate is informal and collaborative. Learning becomes a joyous activity when class room becomes informal.

To conclude in the tiny minds of our kids we instill values in different shapes and forms, indirectly as we take the role of a facilitator in their world of questions and curiosities. We shift our attention from subject matter to learning skills, from competition to collaboration, from success narrowly understood to achievement realistically conceived. Thus learning becomes a joyous activity and childhood full of sweet memories.

Sr. Celine Mathew


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