SAIIER 2013:Deepanam School
The Learning Community
Deepanam School came into existence in the year 2006-07 with the inspiration of the integral education outlined by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The ultimate objective for us is to identify each child as a living soul and facilitate them to reach reach their full potential and bring out their best. This leads us to create an educational environment and guide them with the sense of freedom and discipline, where certain values are nurtured organically. As a result of this many adults and children dedicated to their integral progress finds a perfect surrounding here.
At Deepanam we have children from the age of 7 up to 14 years, and to cater to this varied age group our team of adults brought lots of variety and creativity in their approach of teaching.
This year we had 52 students enrolled in Deepanam. We had 10 full-time teachers on Auroville maintenance, and 4 part-time teachers on part-time maintenance.
We would like to mention some of the activities here which has made the entire year’s journey very remarkable to our students and teachers.
We wish to provide learning in such joyful and creative ways so that students could grow harmoniously and confidently. To provide this we offer to all the children a wide variety of non-academic activities and programs. These are on a regular basis and of free choice for the students. They include:
- Life-Science activities
- Horse-works & training
- Chess-board classes
- Awareness Through the Body
This variety has great been successful in giving students the opportunity for developing their vital faculties and concentration.
Below are reports from each class about some of the year’s activities.
Sea Horses – 1st year class (age 7+)
- The youngest class feels very proud to be learning about the project 'coral reef ' and learned eagerly about the different animals and reef in the ocean - as they chose themselves to be called 'sea horses!'
- To kindle their sense of beauty and experience peace and silence, we took up the Matrimandir as their learning field and worked on the 12 petals and their qualities: sincerity, progress, humility, courage, gratitude, goodness, perseverance, generosity, aspiration, equality, receptivity, peace. Each petal was briefly explained with stories and real experienced instances. This was one effective way to nurture values.
- The most fantastic part of the learning was when the older friends/students from grades 4 and 5, were working with them helping them with their project; reading and also sometimes doing maths together. Very organically there was an atmosphere of love, care and belonging to a place. This interaction between different ages brings positivity and unity, which is the task Auroville has been given.
Butterflies – 2nd & 3rd grades (ages 8 & 9)
- Birds form an important part of the ecosystem. They are beautiful to look at and listen to. To know about the birds means to know another ‘life‘ form, other than humans in an ecosystem. This class spent nearly two months learning about the birds around the campus and different areas of the community.
- Introduction to Geography and the Environment started with the drawing of our classroom and our room at home, then the concept of mapping was introduced, the bird's eye view, architect’s plans. We went on mapping our classroom, learning about the 4 directions, location and place, where the sun rises and where it sets; studied a world map, globe and atlas.
- Working on story project: wherein each child is free to write stories from his/her own imagination and according to their level. This will help them to make their own story book and collective story book of their class - the Butterfly class.
White Dragons – 4th & 5th grades (ages 10 & 11)
- We all use tools in our day to day life. Even a spoon is a tool, so is a knife and a pencil or pen. Tools are examples of simple machines. They are used to make our work easier. With this understanding the class explored the world of tools and took up the Matrimandir workshop as their learning spot. A list of the tools they found and their uses were recorded by the students. Children interviewed a few persons who use the tools - “Is it helpful? How does it work? How do you take care of it?”
- Their favorite project was the History of ancient Egypt, which they enjoyed a lot and presented it to their parents and to the community on the Open House day. To carry out this project successfully they made a sand model of the pyramids and cooked Egyptian food as well.
Giraffes – 6th & 7th grades (12 & 13)
- The year started with a week of community service, to explore and understand the surrounding in which they are living.
- Visited different units of Auroville and studied closely the renewable energy, to make their information real they did practical on the campus. The class with the help of an expert built a solar light on the path areas of the school. Now on our performance days we see the solar lights installed by children.
- Similarly their next practical is - as this is not completed - a wind turbine set up in the school. Through this project they matched theoretical concepts with the practical experience. And we need both - the practice aspect and theory for learning. The interlinkages in different subjects are important; students engaged in involved skills and learning like measurements, coiling, wind energy, generation of electrical energy, drilling, mixing resins (chemistry), patience and teamwork.
- Farming is a vital part of our life. With this idea the class followed an intensive course in farming at Buddha Garden. They also set up an organic garden at school for a day to day understanding of its principles.
Unicorns – 8th grades (14 +)
- Our final-year students over the time were more equipped with skills like self awareness, self control, patience and perseverance, and were encouraged to design a program of their own learning. Constant interaction with different adults and juggling subjects with its timings, they prepared their own schedule. Very successfully they carried out the role of a conscious learner.
- Archeology was one program that the Unicorns have proudly continued over 5 years with Poppo - 2 hours per week - and this activity has brought great accomplishments. To start with this was one project the students chose to include in their week.
- One of the projects in their science class was surveying the farms of Auroville - after this the class decided to make a campaign for organic products, they prepared their own small garden in the school and started growing a few vegetables themselves. And time to time harvested and learned to cook simple and healthy dishes. They registered themselves as a LOCO chef and prepared some dish to share with the community at the Solar Kitchen.
- Another topic that kept coming up in various classes & discussions was "Education". This topic intrigued the students and it triggered a serious research. Each student was free to take on the aspect that she/he felt most interested with: for example one student was determined to know the real "value of exams" - are they useful or not? In the present context where in the newspaper we read so often students committing suicide during the exam times - the stress etc. was what made the issue very relevant. During this time they were encouraged to read from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and from Kireet bhai various articles to make them see better the totality. Such deep questions and issues made the students go around looking for answers on their own. It was a very intense and interactive process which was just started and we hope such deep reasonings continue pushing them to think deep!
There was a Tamil Play organised by the Deepanam Tamil teachers to accelerate the process of learning Tamil with fun. It was surely a very challenging project and it involved about 40 students from Deepanam of all classes to work together on the Ramayana, the famous legend of Lord Rama. This brought into focus a lot of positive learning experiences both for students and the teachers.
A similar event was successfully carried out by one class in doing a very short French play. The essence was the same to learn French as a second language with the focus on enjoying the process.
The aim at Deepanam to help children develop and progress without any pressure in a safe and loving and caring environment. The school aims to give the space, pace and support for the inner growth and mastery of oneself, as well as for an education based on joy of learning.
To love to learn is the most precious gift that one can make to a child,
to learn always and everywhere.
– The Mother