‘What is Schooling for?’ Confluence – Paper Presentations

Image courtesy Lisha Menon

The confluence we had on “What is Schooling for?” and the papers children had presented there was a culmination of a year-long discussion, reflection, and deliberation that we had as a group in the CECR (Community, Ecology, Citizenship and Reflection) class.

As a middle-path school, we at Prakriya believe that children are more than the mere marks that they get in the exams. While academic rigour is important, there are aspects of the self and community that children need to touch and feel into, so that they learn to make right choices as earth-conscious citizens. Children, hence need to be engaged in meaningful conversations and/or activities so that they build and act from their convictions.

CECR (Community, Ecology, Citizenship and Reflection) classes of grades 9 and 10 is one space where such conversations/discussions happen; stories, TED talks, videos, articles, folks songs, conversations, debates are seamlessly woven into an emergent curriculum that is created by and relevant for a particular group of children.

The CECR class for grade 10, of this year, too, started with a few loosely held ideas, a fuzzy path and an unknown destination. It was here that children shared and gave shape to their ‘burning issue’. Many of them very ‘alive’ with the stress and the anxiety that invariably precede and follow exams and the rise in expectations that they face not just from the adults in their life but also from their peers as well as they, themselves. Sharing their angst and heartfelt worries, we worked together in understanding the what’s, what ifs and why of education. We began to question the idea of the danger of a single story and examined this single story of achievement that is being fabled around our lives. Is this narrative of achievement and academic success defining us as human beings? What are the known and unknown stories and history behind this one-size-fits-all-kind-of-transformation ‘that has taken over our education system? We also explored the “What ifs.” Do we accept this narrative handed over to us or is that something that we can change and relook at as a group? We used six-thinking hats as a tool to look at these issues wholistically, and as we shared, discussed, debated, researched, the hitherto fuzzy path began to take a shape; and as we began to thresh out,  this question of “What is schooling for?” found a sharper destination/confluence focus.

Children of grade 9 also worked with a broader framework/theme of understanding their role in the community as leaders, appreciating our rich cultural history and questioning again the single stories that we hold and the danger of not seeing the whole when we become wedded to those single stories. Here too, children began to look deeper at the perceptions that we have and how these colour our beliefs and actions.

In all of this, the confluence which was also planned as our annual high school event began to take shape with this very theme of “What is schooling for?”  and children took to it like fish to water. The ideas for sessions like “What If?”, “The Danger of a Single Story”, “Conversation time with Parents and Teachers” came from children; with them (the children) anchoring these sessions, it became apparent to us that we have sown the seeds of critical thinking and wholistic examination with the right intent; when, how, where these seeds are going to germinate and grow…

The children who worked with their papers started with the process of writing down their ideas about the theme. Each child had his/her core belief wrapped around the theme. Each one of them worked with a mentor to look at what is the key idea he/she wanted to focus on and thus emerged the papers that are presented here for you. (click on the title to read the entire paper)

What is Schooling for? – Diyaa Kumar

In her paper, ‘What is schooling for?’, Diyaa Kumar describes schools as places that ought to provide experiences enabling students to understand themselves and social structures, and learning to take care of themselves. Instead, she finds schools to be burdening students with expectations to excel at everything and in the process lose themselves – become mere sidekicks, insignificant characters in one’s own life.

What is Schooling for? – Diya Mallapur

In her paper, ‘What is schooling for?’,  Diya Mallapur examines if competition is the only way to survive or if collaboration is a possibility. She also reflects on how expectations tend to put us on survival mode rather than a mode in which we live life fully.

The Case of the disappearing Question Mark – Arundati Menon

Arundati Menon, in her paper ‘The case of the disappearing question mark’, shares how asking questions has shaped her and her understanding of herself. She raises apprehensions about how the schooling system teaches children to answer questions using keywords rather than using questions as a tool for learning.

The Carrot, the Question and the Stick – Joy Relan

Joy in his paper ‘The carrot, question and the stick’ describes how the schooling system uses the carrots and sticks method to train you to get into organized jobs, which anyways constitute only 6% of all jobs. He believes that one should be able to get over the carrots and sticks and question the status quo.

Is Thinking innate to us anymore? – Dhiti Rajaram

Dhiti Rajaram in her paper ‘Is thinking innate to us anymore?’, quotes Julius Ceasar, “ He thinks too much… he is a dangerous man”, to make a point on why the “system” wants to kills the curiosity of the student – to cut out the creativity and foster uniform growth to enable students to become just another cog in the wheel.

What is Schooling for? – Drithi Anand

Drithi Anand in her paper, ‘What is schooling for?’, lays down developing of belief and value systems as the main purpose of schooling.

What is Education for? – Anjali Verghese

Anjali in her paper ‘What is education for?’, raises a question on the definition and necessity of success, whether it is okay to have done alright in life or does everyone need to run after success. And should schools push everyone towards being successful in a similar way or help them find the right balance in life.

What is Education for? – Siddarth Gahlaut

In his paper, ‘What is education for?’, Siddarth observes that while everything around us is changing at a rapid speed, the schooling system hasn’t changed at all. Schools, instead of creating obedient workers should create authentic humans that are creative and can communicate and collaborate.

Sharon, Co-ordinator, High School & Durga, Director

Prakriya Green Wisdom School


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