Environments in which we begin our education are all neutralizers- we all wear the same uniform (even look alike due to age and build), sit on the same benches, read the same books. They are great tools to break barriers of class, creed and finance. The only thing unique that we bring to the classroom is our individuality of thought.
And this individuality shows up in the opportunities that we are provided with, to express ourselves.
In science and maths of course, there is usually just one right answer. Most questions in an exam paper too have just one expected answer, the right one. But the essay question has no wrong answer, its merely your own answer! Such questions enable you to apply your mind- to think creatively, and have a freedom of expression.
But the system in which we study, for its own good reasons no doubt, provides us with very limited such opportunities. Most things have to be learnt just as they are, to be remembered, and reproduced.
My idea of an ideal classroom is a group of unique minds expressing themselves in each other’s company. The teacher is the merely the enabler- the one who teaches the technique, and guides students through their creations. Children learn through application, and learn the process of creation- the ideating, the planning, the executing-, along with the techniques.
And then on a slightly different note- but not an unrelated one-, is the matter of abundance of resources. We often hear that lack of resources leads to innovation, the drive to find new ways to do things. I agree, but I think the credit goes much more to the relentless motivation of the person who doesn’t let these lack of resources stand in his/her way. And, such people are rare. There are others who will instead flourish in an environment of sufficient resources, because it opens up a way for them to try out all the possibilities that they offer. So, while lack of resources may be a way to create great things, it need not be how things should be.
So now that I am in a position to create my own classroom here at PrograMitra, I have put all my ideas out to be tried.
All our courses are designed keeping this in mind. Children will be taught the techniques of computer programming languages, but they will be guided to apply them in their own ways. Each child will have enough creative freedom to build games, animations, interactive creations as they would want to make. We as teachers, will be their mentors, guiding them through it. I think if they learn this way, they will see the enormous power that these technologies offer- a way to do just what you want to do. Also, when you apply a technique by putting in your own two cents of thought, you learn it in a way that cannot be “un-learnt”. To facilitate this, the groups will be smaller. Sharing of resources –like laptops, android tablets, robots –will be minimal.
This is also what motivated us to create the Compushak — our very own programmable robot, that children will get to assemble and program– in addition to the programmable robots from leading companies. Self-development means that we walk the talk, and are able to control the price, to provide each child with a robot to build!
Our aim is just this – to provide an environment of creative freedom, abundance of resources, to foster their creativity and provide them with their own “out-of-the-box” classroom.