A Chat With Gyankriti Founders

Gyankriti is a new school in Indore. They've adapted various activity based ideas into their curriculum. This is how they describe their journey so far! 
You can email your journey to anyone of us and if we feel there's something in it for other educators to learn, we will definitely publish it here. 
You may send your mail to any of these IDs, preferably the first. [email protected][email protected][email protected] 
Recently, similar insights were mailed to us by the founder of a montessori school. 


The journey so far:

Gyankriti was founded by two IIT Bombay alumni, Akshay Gupta and Yograj Patel, in the year 2013. They opted out of campus placements to setup a chain of preschools in Indore and nearby districts. Thrusted by a small round of seed funding, Gyankriti was able to open 8 preschools in Indore and Dhar region.


However the founders soon realized that the reality is far more difficult from the media hype they were getting. The parents would see preschools only as a parking space for 6 months to 2 years and later moved on to bigger schools. Secondly, it was extremely difficult to manage high quality of education and teachers across multiple physical locations. We then rolled back to a much more conventional setup with a big school at a single location. Eventually all the preschool branches were merged and all students were offered to shift to the new campus.


The new Gyankriti school campus is ideally located, away from the hustle and bustle of Indore city. The core concept of the campus building is to keep the raw materials like bricks and RCC exposed. It conveys a feeling of warmth and character and adds texture to a large blank space. The building is being developed as a Learning Aid (explained in detail here - BaLA), it  aims to use the built elements like the floor, walls, pillars, staircases, windows, doors, ceilings, fans, trees, flowers, or even rainwater falling on the building as learning resource.


Currently the school is offering classes Nursery to Grade 4, we are increasing one class every year and wish to affiliate with the CISCE.


How we are different from most of the schools in India


The most challenging part of being an edupreneur in India is that people will often ask how you are different from the rest of the schools, but they will be scared to put their children in any school which is actually different from others. The courage to be a part of any experiment is lacking in our society. However thanks to our experience with the preschool chain and many of our existing fan following continuing with us, we were able to sail through with some hiccups.  Gyankriti School has developed a fresh perspective on education to enhance the value and quality of education. Here we present the education philosophy of the school:


YouTube Video


 

  • Individual Attention through education technology:

    • Active Learning in a child centric classroom: We enroll only 15 students per section in the early years (Nursery to Grade2) and 25 students per section in Grade3 and above. This is really helpful in implementing innovative teaching models like ‘active learning’. The students in our school don’t sit in linear pattern facing the board, instead they sit in groups of 4-6 students. The teachers are less into lecture mode while classroom discussions are encouraged. The ultimate aim is to make all the days interesting for children and totally eliminate rote learning.


    • Use of ICT tools: Starting from Junior KG classes children are trained to use the necessary evil of computing devices in productive ways. Ubuntu education software packages like Gcompris, TuxMath, TuxPaint, Tangram, Geogebra, Scratch e.t.c are extensively used. We are following the computer science curriculum developed by Prof. Sridhar Iyer of IITB, where children start coding from Grade3. Apart from this, the school is also adapting Google Apps for Education, where all parents and teachers get a google account. All communications to parents happen online through gmail and google groups, teachers also use Google Drive to manage their classroom planning. We are using the Google Classroom app for home assignments, sharing documents e.t.c. We believe that the job of the school is to make children ready for the future and not for present circumstances. ‘Education for tomorrow’ theme is visible in each and every process at Gyankriti. For example, the name of our google group for Grade2 is [email protected], signalling the parents everyday that their children will complete schooling in year 2030 and hence we need to think from that perspective.


    • Ongoing experiments: We are also experimenting the blended learning models in our primary classes. One of the objectives is to reduce the human intervention, due to the continuous crisis of quality teachers. The idea is to use tools like KhanAcademy, Mindspark e.t.c. for subjects where students generally face problems like in English and Mathematics. We are working on both Station Rotation (groups of children doing different stuff in the same room, some working on devices while some learning from teachers) and Lab Rotation Models (part of the lecture delivered in class while follow up activities taken in the computer lab).


  • All-round development: 50% times for core academics. 25% for Sports. 25% for Arts. Performing and visual arts are taught as an extension and integrated with the languages and mathematics. This way children enjoy the arts throughout the year instead of limited period activity for annual days.

  • Self-Learning instead of Spoon-feeding: No homework in preschool years. Creative assignments in primary years. No tuition policy.

  • No Exams till Grade2: Following the continuous evaluation process to help evaluate the child’s development better by continuous day-to-day monitoring and feedback. The core principle is that we do “assessment for learning” instead of “assessment of learning”. Only the students are not assessed, the performance of teachers is also reflected from the detailed analysis. We are also developing the ethical values in students, contrary to what we see in our society where every one is running after marks. We don’t keep any invigilators during exam hours and children follow the honour code. We have not found any significant issues so far.


  • Parent-School partnership: Workshop every month. Sometimes we do it through video chat or youtube, when it is done offline at the school all parents use public transport instead of personal vehicle (School Bus facility). The workshops are helpful in understanding our unique or sometimes weird methods.

  • Community service is mandatory: Children clean the dining hall, wash clothes, wash utensils, gardening etc. once a week. We have our own farm too.

  • Children own the school: The children plant trees and sell their artwork to develop school facilities. They love to come to their ‘own school’ and read from their ‘own library books’.

  • Enjoyable learning experiences: Diverse activities, puzzles, field visits, worksheets, projects etc. makes learning a much more enjoyable and enriching process.

  • Learning beyond classrooms: learning becomes much more effective and relevant through hands-on experiences, dramatizing concepts learnt, applying the learning’s in real life experiences.

  • Modern Gurukul: Children learn about Indian History and heritage. Starting from Grade1 they all learn to speak in Sanskrit language. 

  • All this freedom comes with a lot of responsibility: A common problem with private schools these days is that parents interfere too much in the school curriculum and market driven schools often compromise the school syllabus to satisfy the parents. We were very clear from the beginning that parents are not our customers, the children are. Hence we should do what’s right for children and not what is asked by the parents.  We have strict guidelines for discipline, quality control, safety of children, standard norms and procedures applicable to everyone in our parent community. An undertaking of the parent handbook is signed by all parents at the time of admission. Everyone is made clear at the time of joining that school will follow its own curriculum and methodology.


Other links you can explore:

  1. http://smallscience.hbcse.tifr.res.in/category/view-from-the-classroom/gyankriti-school-indore/

  2. http://teachersofindia.org/en/article/understanding-lunar-cycles-help-indian-calendar

  3. Our main website www.gyankriti.com


PS: We are also open to any edupreneur or school visiting Gyankriti and taking inspiration (or even copying) our concepts or curriculum. It is like Free and Open Source Software. We just want this virus to spread, as we know we may not be able to personally open more branches of Gyankriti. http://gyankriti.com/en/network-schools/


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