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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mahalaxmi has a few things to share

Mahalaxmi from Chennai was a Management Graduate from Symbiosis, Pune. Unlike others of her age and background she chose to work for the education of children who were not fortunate to get good schooling, through Akanksha, an NGO working in Pune and Mumbai. She stayed in Adharshila for One and a half month and put her heart and soul in teaching children. She also helped in developing the math curriculum for the 1st level.

Here is what she has to say..........

All characters and events mentioned here are real and any resemblance to fiction is purely coincidental and unintentional. This village looks like a beautiful dream and it feels good to stop somewhere and look around you. And the people as we call them- are kamaal ke bande- for you hardly expect to ever meet people who seem to have it all figured out in their head- who have so much clarity and then you chance upon people here and you wish you would reach that stage soon too.

I heard of Adharshila through a friend who was also planning to visit this organisation. I looked up their website and was quite interested in experiencing this place for it promised a chance to see alternative education.

When I spoke to Amit from Pune to ask him what to get with us- his answer interested me. He said - bas tum khudi aa jao- just bring yourself. I understand that better now - this is a place where all you need to do is to allow yourself to experience, learn new things and question and challenge your persepctive and view on things. You immerse yourself completely and allow yourself to learn from everthing and everyone around you. Be ready to question and challenge your beliefs and ideas on what is good education, what is the real issue for the problems that we see and many things that you thought defined you.

One of the first things Jayshree and Amit asked us was what were we passionate about- what could we teach and what did we want to learn? There is this huge writing on a wall that says – seekhne ki jagah-place for learning- in Bareli- and that is the most appropriate description of this place.

I think staying in Adharshila is a must for anybody who is thinking about education – alternative or mainstream or any other.

Things that I have learnt:

Learning is not restricted by time or space

The fascinating part about real learning is that you are never either just a teacher or just a student- there are no fixed roles that you need to fit into for you shall be both and there is value in both

Waking up early may/may not be a virtue but staying up late is- for that is when you can have the most interesting conversations with Amit and Jayshree- and if you do nothing else but just this you may still leave richer in your thinking process.

The kids will accept you into their fold very easily and make you feel really comfortable

That I love feeling I am cared for and people are concerned about my well being when they are worried about whether or not I eat enough, make me some nice hot tea when I am ill

It is not too hard to laugh at yourself and your ideologies and I may be very beneficial

Family feeling is not defined by blood relations and you feel you are in the midst of family when you have a group of people that you eat, cook, chat and share with

Picking every grain of urad that’s fallen on the ground made me realise what it means to have a bowl of dal on my plate

Beautiful sunrise and sunset is not to be found just in paintings and romantic movies but also in real life.

You can see a full sun and a beautiful moon both at the same time.

A mirror is a non necessity- it only creates self obsession

Running water, attached toilet bath , 24- hour electricity are all a privilege and we must be able to appreciate it.

Even though in some ways this seems very unlike the world I have known but in many ways it does not seem too different and I feel like I could fit in.

The difference between jowar and bajra

That khatpuliya – a red flowering plant has a nice sour/tangy taste

Many types of weaving and other craft Jaya & my teachers were extremely patient with me even though I made many mistakes and asked a thousand questions- for the first time I felt like I could learn craft work

How to turn the soil with a phawda and gheti

What mulching means and how it is done

Simplicity does not mean compromising on great learning resources like a well stocked library, a great craft room, a TV and DVD player, a telescope, a variety of games and a few computers.

The main role of a teacher here is that of a facilitator for learning here is a process of experiencing and experimenting.

This school is almost a true representation of life- as in how differen people enter our lives for different time durations and we learn from each one of them somthiing that is important and they learn from us what they need to

About nitrogen fixing and how it can be done

Jute pods make an amazing muscial instrument for they sound like ghungroo

Being with kids and playing games with them and telling and listening stories is what I enjoy the most

3 Bareli songs

2 Hindi songs

How to sow garlic

Many new games

That palak and onion too have seeds to be sown

That I actually enjoy cooking and trying out new things if I have someone to cook with and talk to while cooking

Healthy food, Shramdaan and Sunday walks make for the best way to gain good weight.

Note: This list is not comprehensive.