In the forested campus of The Valley School on the outskirts of Bangalore, there are only three ‘classes’ up to the eighth grade – an entry level up to six years of age, a junior level from ages seven to nine, and a middle school from ages 10 to 12. “At this age most learning is through peer interaction. Teachers are only facilitators in the teaching process and not the sole beacons of knowledge,” says Principal S. Jairam.
At Riverside School in Ahmedabad, sixth graders spent an afternoon in a tent rolling incense sticks to experience what children employed in hot dingy factories undergo every day. Later, they took out street marches and visited factories employing children to protest against the practice.
At Vidya Mandir Estancia, a CBSE school in Chennai, teachers use games such as ‘Pallankuzhi’ (a traditional game in Tamil Nadu), chess, and treasure hunts to teach mathematics, and aero modelling to flesh out concepts in physics. “We constantly look for ways to combine conventional and new methods as part of our teaching,” says Principal Maheshwari Natarajan.
At NSS Hillspring International, Mumbai, Principal Nalini Pinto and Madhavi Shilpi, a licensed ThinkBuzan instructor, led an initiative that saw thirty students and two facilitators create a massive mind map measuring over 2000 square feet to cover the material that Grade 10 students study in their business studies course. “This was a unique way to understand and recall complex information,” remarks Pinto.
At Centre for Learning (CFL), a school 40 kilometres west of Bangalore, gardening, dance, music, nature walks, looking after pets, and astronomy are all part of the curriculum. In the Chemistry lab, 14-year-olds are encouraged to take 10 minutes of personal time to come up with individual discoveries. “I’ve often had students come up with unusual chemical reactions that they then try and explain to the rest of the class,” says Yasmin Jayathirtha, a science teacher and founding member of CFL.
Silly exercises? Much ado about nothing? Not at all, says Sridhar Ramanathan, a Mumbai-based Strategic Innovation Coach. “Creativity is not just desirable but important, sensible and required. When things around us change, we can’t remain in a time warp. We need to be able to understand, interpret and cope with that change, and it is in this context that creative thinking helps.”
Creativity is a much-needed skill in today’srapidly evolving world. Ingenious thinking should be encouraged, both for its own sake and also because it allows children to solve problems in innovative ways. Promoting originality in thought also ensures that you engage children in their own learning process. Research shows that when children are encouraged to think creatively, they are motivated to perform well and also experience enhanced self-esteem.