School Partnerships, Kedarnath Valley

Through Forming Collaborative Partnerships, Together we can make a difference in our Community. School Partnerships for Implementing our Holistic Curriculum in the Kedarnath Valley area.

Objective:
By establishing and maintaining School Partnerships we hope to encourage and oversee the implementation of our Holistic Curriculum, a mindful and creative activity oriented approach towards adhering to the academic standards, while encouraging a genuine concern for the wellbeing of both the local community and the surrounding environment. We will work directly with approximately twenty teachers, 450 students (1st-5th standard) and their parents, from ten different Government Primary schools, thereby improving the educational standards and thus fostering future generations of mindful, sensitive and creative individuals in our Kedarnath Valley area in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand.

Over the years we have developed a mindful and creative activity oriented approach towards adhering to the academic standards required of the CBSC and Uttarakhand Boards’ Syllabi and NCERT curriculum books, most often making common connections between various subjects, ultimately linking several together in one cohesive learning activity. What sets our approach apart from other teaching methodologies is that instead of instilling fear or anxiety around exams with the pressure to memorize and regurgitate crammed information, we strive to foster curiosity, exploration, discovery and thus ultimately a deeper comprehension over a wide span of academic and arts subjects. As such there are several components we would like to implement in the surrounding local Government Primary schools that would further enhance the classroom environment and supplement the curriculum they already have in place… read more about our Holistic Curriculum

However we recognize it will take many years to substantially transform the mindset of an up and coming generation, we have so far merely devised a two year plan as our pilot Space for Nurturing Creativity – Government Primary School Partnership Program, with each academic year being split by two semesters. The first year will incorporate into the already established academic curriculum: interwoven themes of traditional culture revival and preservation, environmental protection and self-sustainability, as well as creative arts and handicrafts from renewable resources. The second academic year will build upon further developing the aforementioned themes with the addition of implementing a comprehensive Media Literacy and Production component into the curriculum, which will enable teachers and students to not only collaborate in critically analyzing the globalized media to which they are exposed, but also collaborate in producing the own digital content. The eventual utilization of social media as their ever expansive audience, among whom they can share locally relevant content, will begin to foster a greater sense of cultural appreciation and village pride. Furthermore making efforts to link together all topics covered, each year will culminate in an inter-school, community orientated event where each partnership school will be able to showcase their own set of trilingual Garhwali-Hindi-English, environmental awareness campaign themed deliverables:  1. Production of a Musical Theater Puppet Show Performance and 2. Publication of a Handmade Magazine. Year two of the program’s deliverables will potentially make the transition to paperless media, spanning the outreach range from circulating magazine articles via WhatsApp to creating school / community based YouTube channels. All deliverables will serve as inspiration to participate in an annual student led, community waste management initiative in collaboration with other concerned citizens, specifically targeted towards those involved in the livelihood maintenance of the Kedarnath Yatra season (especially in route restaurant, hotel, guest house, store owners, trek guides, porters etc.), which will only further promote mindful eco-tourism in our area.

For our pilot program we will form partnerships wtih Government Primary Schools from the following surrounding villages within a 12 km range, upstream from Guptakashi: Nala, Hyun (Masta), Nayarankoti, Kotera, Alangu, Khumera, Maikhanda, Dhani, Khariya, and Khath.

We will use the following schedule to divide our Space for Nurturing Creativity Co-Learner / Curriculum Facilitators’ time among the ten schools, over the course of one academic year.

  Monday, Wednesday, Friday Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
Co-Learner / Curriculum Facilitator School # School #
A 1 2
B 3 4
C 5 6
D 7 8
E 9 10

With the oversight of our school partnership project coordinator, each Space for Nurturing Creativity Co-Learner / Curriculum Facilitator will spend three days a week in each of the two schools to which they are assigned.

Our plan of action for each academic year will be in four stages: Initial Assessment, Gradual Transformation of Classroom Atmosphere, Implementation of our Holistic Curriculum, and Year End Assessment / Presentations for and Cleanup Initiative with the Community.

  1. Initial Assessment:

Throughout the first month, through classroom activity observation and dialog with Teachers, Students and Parents, our Space for Nurturing Creativity Co-Learner / Curriculum Facilitators will assess both the standards as well as the specific needs of the students in their care. Keeping the following in mind:

  • Socio-economic condition of the students’ families, including: distance and mode of transportation to and from school, home responsibilities aside from studies, and education levels of the parents and other family members.
  • Students’ interests, abilities and confidence levels, not only in regards to academics but also their behavior, specifically their inclinations towards competition or collaboration, as well as their methods of articulately expressing themselves in either destructive or creative and healthy ways.
  • Parents’ expectations of their children, regarding both behaviour in and out of the classroom as well as marks and goals for future studies and careers.
  • Parents’ interest levels and ability to support their children throughout their educational journey.
  • Teachers’ enthusiasm and ability to deliver academic content in ways that foster students’ inspiration and curiosity to learn.
  • Devise a list of and purchase or create classroom materials needed in order to implement our curriculum.

 

  1. Gradual Transformation of Classroom Atmosphere:

After our initial assessment, we will begin to provide suggestions for creating and maintaining a classroom atmosphere that encourages, inspires and supports teachers’, students’ and their parents’ collaboration in fostering curiosity, exploration and discovery throughout the entire school day as well as at home.  This may include some of the following:

  • Gradual removal of desks, (or at least in the beginning not using them for certain activities), and adopting a circular classroom arrangement, to break down and replace the hierarchical structure with a more harmonious realization that we (adults and children alike) are actually co-learners taking this educational journey together, and thus furthermore encouraging questions and dialog.
  • Encourage students and teachers to collaborate in a brainstorming session to devise the “game rules” for their classroom and educational journey, which will give the students a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for their actions and behavior.
  • Use of meditation to begin and end each day, bringing about improvements in co-learners’ mental and emotional wellbeing, including: mindfulness, concentration, calmness and harmonious school and home environments.
  • Use of music, drama and other teambuilding activities to encourage collaboration and teamwork at the start of each day.
  • Use of Yoga practice throughout the day as transition breaks in between activities, to prevent lethargy by maintaining teachers’ and students’ physical health as well as proper flow of energy.

Long-term Outcomes:

  • Teachers and Students will be given the means to maintain their sense of calmness, by cultivating their own inner witness, able to observe their emotions as they arise with the vivek (discernment) needed to take appropriate action, rather than rash reactions, in most difficult or uncomfortable situations.
  • Teachers and Students will begin to cultivate a greater sense of individual-self within the collective, with a deeper understanding of our inter-connected relationships with each other and the nature, as well as the various systems and structures in which we live.
  • Teachers and students patience levels and ability to truly hear each other will increase, so that the classroom, home environment and community at large will begin to evolve into a more collaborative and harmonious place to live and learn, where loving kindness and concern for fellow beings will flourish over competition.

 

  1. Implementation of our Holistic Curriculum

Facilitate creative and practical activities in collaboration with teachers and their students participating together, to provide alternative methods of teaching math, language arts skills (both Hindi and English), and  in ways that will not only inspire curiosity, exploration and discovery, but also make learning fun.

  • Connecting with the Nature by not only introducing them to the local birds, animals, insects, rivers and streams, flora and fauna, but also instilling the concepts: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by collectively establishing trash, compost and recycling systems for their schools, homes and local community (including restaurants, hotels, guest houses and stores), in ways that create awareness about the realities of the environmental damage we humans cause in the name of “progress and development” as well as the factors that bring on natural disasters, teachers and students may become ambassadors for the precious nature, with an increased concern for the environment, what damages it and what we can do to insure its protection and preservation.
  • Alternative ways in presenting practical math: rather than merely writing on a board and in notebooks or memorizing times tables, teachers and students will learn to adopt experiential methods by using actual materials to completely explain concepts in fully comprehensible ways.
  • Creative ways of Language Arts (Hindi and English) instruction through: games; story telling; singing; descriptive action oriented and drama activities; conducting interviews with classmates as well as family and other community members; dialog; creative, non-fiction and script writing; as well as comic book creation, will enhance their reading comprehension and especially their ability to develop and express their ideas.
  • Teachers and Students will gain basic Visual Arts skills in drawing, painting, puppetry and other handicrafts using locally found and/or recycled materials. Reviving traditional handicraft production and other self-sustainable models will provide a more fulfilled sense of livelihood, thus decreasing the desire to move towards the planes and more urban environments in search of employment.
  • Through the use of storytelling as well as folk music independently and as the soundtrack to arts and crafts sessions, students will develop more curiosity about their local culture, through a historical and geographical perspective, which will in turn not only revive local traditions but also foster a deeper respect for elders as the keepers of our rich traditions, as well as help transform their sense of inferiority into a greater sense of pride towards their culture and heritage.
  • Twice each semester taking teachers and students on an educational tour to local places of historical or cultural interests will increase awareness of their communities and heritage.
  • Introduction to Media Literacy and Production portion however some elements may be introduced in year one, the bulk of the curriculum component will be implemented in year two of our pilot program. This component will afford opportunities for teachers, students and their families (with whom they would be watching TV in the first place), to develop a toolkit of how to deconstruct and critically analyze the media to which they are exposed on a daily basis. Viewing and critique sessions will expand their limits of exposure to include alternative sources from a variety of perspectives, thus gaining a broadened awareness of the world around them from local to global, as well as cultivate a greater sense of vivek in regards to the media’s influence on their own cultural conditioning. The Production portion will include everything from three-part story structure, frame composition, comic book creation, story boarding, and script writing, all the way to video shooting, editing and distribution with a mobile phone.

Long-term Outcomes:

  • Teachers and Students will be able to create links between various academic and arts subjects, as well as make the material they are studying relatable to their every-day lives.
  • The self-esteem, confidence, intuitive creativity in students will increase, empowering them to overcome the fear of and rather ignite the joy of learning, to ensure all hidden potential in a child are brought to surface and they feel inspired and encouraged to express their own original ideas in creative ways.
  • Teachers and Students will begin to take ownership and pride in their natural environment, collaborative community, traditional culture and the sustainability of their local livelihoods.

 

  1. Semester End Assessment with Presentations for the Community.

At the end of each semester Space for Nurturing Creativity Co-Learner / Curriculum Facilitators will collaborate with teachers and students and make suggestions that will enable them to devise alternative strategies for assessing one’s own progress, including but not exclusively:

  • Devising their own questionnaire and presenting their answers to the group, will give opportunities for both Teachers and Students to honestly evaluate their own inspiration, motivation, participation, and comprehension levels, making both teachers and students collectively accountable for the progress and results of the semester, as well as allow them to set goals and intensions for moving ahead.
  • The production and distribution of a semester end Magazine, somewhat like a travel journal, will provide the compilation of all the physical evidence of each teacher and student’s educational journey together as co-learners. It will not only serve as a memento for the participant contributors, but also provide students from each other’s schools, parents, community members and others interested in alternative holistic education, insight into the curiosities, explorations and discoveries made by the talented youth of the Kedarnath Valley area.
  • An in-school as well as Inter-school and local Community Showcase of all the puppet show productions from each of the ten government primary schools chosen for this partnership will serve as the culmination of this pilot program and provide not only a cohesive display of all the linked topics covered throughout the semester, but also the outreach and solidarity needed to gain support in our mission to clean up the Kedarnath Valley area.
  • The establishment of an annual Community Wide Waste Management / Cleanup Initiative in collaboration with local business establishments, especially whose livelihood is directly connected with the nature and the Kedarnath Yatra season, will not only provide the collective manpower to clean up the ditches and streams that are feeding poisonous water into the Mandakini River, but also begin to provide the required systems for managing trash, compost and other recyclables, such as merely providing trash bins for every home, restaurant, hotel, guest house, store, etc. We recognize that no matter how much effort we put towards educational campaigns, the community’s habits in regards to where they throw their trash will not evolve unless a proper facility is put into place.
  • At each semester’s end we will conduct parent teacher conferences and through dialog provide teachers and parents with guidance as to how to best support their child’s educational journey by both acknowledging successes and enlightening where improvements can be made.

Long-term Outcomes:

  • The motivation and enthusiasm levels in teachers will increase, having been inspired by the mindful, enthusiastic, creative and deeply committed staff of Space for Nurturing Creativity.
  • Parents will develop collaborative relationships with local teachers and will feel encouraged to take a greater interest in the child’s holistic development and be given the tools to further support them on their educational journey.
  • Parents will begin to transform the impression they have regarding government schools, by engaging them in ongoing dialogues regarding our holistic curriculum, as well as their child’s academic, creative and emotional development.
  • As a pilot program, together we will lay the foundation for providing the proper guidance of children as they begin their journey towards becoming human beings rich in moral values and cultural traditions, responsible citizens concerned with collaboration within their community and living in accordance with the nature, as well as begin to create a network ready to support a long term program of this kind.

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