SAIIER 2019:Future School

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SAIIER 2018-19
Future School


Future School seeks to provide an environment in which Auroville youth and those dedicated to their education may reach their own unique potential through a balanced development of body, mind, emotion and spirit. Inspired by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the school aspires to create a platform for self-discovery. Students are encouraged to follow a value-oriented approach to life in which they have an opportunity to create a deeper understanding of their responsibility to self, community and the world.

The school reflects the international character of Auroville, bringing together students and teachers from many different nationalities, cultures and ethnic backgrounds in a spirit of openness and harmony. The diversity of the school community creates a very special opportunity to be immersed in a rich and positive sharing of experiences. While offering the opportunity for a variety of choices, the school seeks to balance independence and freedom on one hand, with respect and responsibility on the other. Students are supported in an interactive and open communication environment. At the same time they are encouraged to be aware of their choices and to forge their own path for their growth and progress.

We hope that this environment and the educational program will help the students to become self-aware, self-motivated and self-controlled.

School program and activities:

Future School offers a high school equivalent education to primarily Aurovillian students. This year there were 57 adolescents/young adults from 21 nationalities enrolled in the school.

We offer a wide range of subjects to our students: Languages ‒ English (with Literature option at A-level), French and German; Mathematics; Pure Sciences ‒ Physics, Chemistry, Biology; Social Sciences ‒ History, Geography, Economics, Psychology, Global Citizenship; BTech in Sports; and extra-curricular subjects such as Information Communication Technology, Photography, Film, Art, and Theatre.

Where suited, we also offer the possibility of Practical Training with Auroville Units, making use of the diverse possibilities offered by Auroville at large.

Through our mentoring program we assist the students in making good individual choices that help them to explore, discover, progress and grow.

Teaching and learning methods:

The school incorporates many different teaching/learning methods and environments: interactive teaching with class discussions, projects, tutorials, independent research, traditional lectures, online classrooms; small and large groups, one-on-one approach, peer teaching, work experience and self-study. In this way we hope to meet the needs of each individual.

We feel that the combination of required areas of study and choice of subjects gives students the chance to both get in touch with new areas of knowledge as well as explore their own interests and needs.

Evaluation:

Reflective assessment is shared during the course of mentor meetings and other conferences. We also use school seminars to engage the students and teachers in reflective assessment.

Skill-based assessment includes the following:

  • Internal tests, regular assignments and journals of activities and progress
  • Project work with presentations, internal and/or public
  • Written progress reports
  • External examinations (UK IGCSEs and A-levels) if requested by the students

Highlights of the year ‒ All School Activities:

1. Zero Waste of Food

This school year, with the idea of our Librarian, Subhasri, we reduced the amount of food we waste each day at school. We started reusing the rice, idlis, tofu, curd and vegetables left over in the food containers. We cooked them for the snack or lunch for the next day. Consequently, we have added butter milk, soft-cheese (made from leftover curd), variety rice (lemon rice, tamarind rice, tomato rice), curries (using leftover vegetables) and idly upma to our snack-menu. Students and staff who are free also join the ammas to help prepare these snacks. In all, it gives us a wonderful time where the students, staff and the workers come together in an activity and we are happy that the idea and the effort has been well appreciated by all.

2. Circle Garden

Growing an edible garden has continued from last year due to its popularity among many students. This year too an enthusiastic team of volunteers grew a successful crop of pumpkins, bananas, two varieties of lettuce, watermelons, spinach, beans, amaranth, tapioca, papaya, etc. The garden has continued to contribute nutritious, delicious additions to our snack table.

3. Weekly Seminars

These have been an ongoing feature of our school for many years and are open to all students and teachers. This gives us a chance to invite interesting people to present a variety of topics, as well as offer a platform for student presentations and debates.
Often the seminar serves as a forum to introduce courses and extracurricular activities in an exploratory, interactive manner. The activities introduced then become a part of the coursework and the extracurricular offerings such as study skills, theatre and cycling last year.

4. School Dinner ‒ Biryani

On Friday, 21st of December 2018, our school gathered in the evening to celebrate the last day of school before the winter term break. With the help of the Student Council members and the staff we decorated our pine tree in the dining area with lots of colorful Christmas lights.
When everyone arrived, we gathered around the big, hot Biryani container (we had veg and non-veg). The dinner was followed by some active games that students and staff took part in. We had a lively and memorable evening with all school members together before going out for the term-break.

5. Graduation

This year saw the successful completion of the program by 18 students. As per tradition, on the last day of school fellow students, teachers and staff members, and parents of the graduates gathered to acknowledge the accomplishments of these students. The program consisted of songs and Rolf’s hallmark graduation speech. The now traditional powerpoint presentation with photos of each of the graduating students at different stages of their lives was, as always, most touching. Each student received the gift of their own ‘Goodbye Book’. The event concluded with another tradition: the planting of a tree by the graduating class.
This event has become a very important one in our school and is always filled with laughter and tears, joy and some sadness; it reminds us that we are a family.

6. Field Trips

An important element in any learning program, field trips connect classroom topics to real world experiences. They create an opportunity for closer bonding within the school ‘family’ and provide a break from routine. The following were our field trips this year, recorded in the voices of the students:
Pichavaram Mangrove Forest
On Friday, 9th of November 2018, we went on an all-school field trip to Pichavaram Mangrove Forest, the world's 2nd largest, located near Chidambaram on the coast of Tamil Nadu. We took 8 small motorboats and rode through the forest. It was a great experience for both the students and teachers to observe the unique ecosystem that supports many different varieties of vegetation, fish and birds. It was a great chance to gain knowledge, especially for our Geography and Biology students and teachers.
     Overall, we all enjoyed being together as a family during this educational outing.
Trip To Hidesign
In December 2018, our school was given the privilege to visit the Hidesign factory and office. We were guided through its maze of workers and systems by Dilip Kapur, the owner of Hidesign who also teaches Current Affairs at Future School. After a long but enjoyable hour of driving through unfamiliar streets of Pondicherry we arrived at the production outlet of Hidesign. We were all surprised by how comfortable and simple it appeared, with appealing brick walls and a spread-out campus where workers ‒ mainly young hard-working women in their customized blue and white saris ‒ were using different types of tools and machinery.
     We, the students, were shown and explained the entire process of how Hidesign products were produced from the piles of interesting types of leather to the designing and stitching stage and the final glueing of each designated piece. It was very fascinating and we were allowed to engage and try out small activities ourselves to get an idea of making a Hidesign product.
     After visiting the factory, we travelled to the beachside of Pondicherry to see the interactive part of the Hidesign business: its marketing and planning. A small office composed of many computers, chairs and people busying about their work, revealed a friendly environment where employees shared with the students what they did there, how they did it and most importantly, how it helped Hidesign. The place was brimming with ideas, colors and digital sketching for current projects and magazines. The students felt more connected with this aspect of the company because it involved platforms they recognized such as social media, famous newspapers, and names and numbers from abroad. Altogether, it was a highly inspiring and pleasant day with questions and talks in abundance. It was an experience that taught us students, how pieces of small ordinary things such as teamwork and motivation are what form the puzzle that is business.

New courses and extracurricular activities:

1. Foundation Class

This year, Future School created a Foundation Class (successfully taught by a former student Hye Yoon) which aimed to prepare students for the 9th grade by providing them with lessons in Maths, English and Science. This course was intended to accommodate particular cases ‒ for example, three of the students moved to Auroville from abroad recently and needed to improve their English to be able to follow the 9th grade classes, and one student didn’t have a sound basis in Math. Despite having different areas of weaknesses and strengths, these students formed one grade and attended the school full-time.
     The Foundation Class has been operating for almost a whole school year. Although some students joined later on or were out for some months, everyone still improved substantially during this time. As a result, three students passed the 9th grade entrance exam in March 2019 and will be integrated into the next group of first-years in Future School from July. The fourth student plans to leave Auroville next year but we feel he has also benefited a lot from the Foundation Class.
     We consider the experiment of our Foundation Class a success but we are not sure if we have the resources to continue.

2. Community Service

For the past nine years, Future School has been participating in a Community Service program that allows the new students joining school to participate in a unique opportunity and experience. For three weeks before the new school year begins, each student works in three different services, units or ongoing projects. We find this activity an important learning tool as it aids in preparing each child for their future. Students learn to adopt a sense of commitment and responsibility. They get to experience working with and around different people in a team. This activity has been an integral part of the school program and has been well received by the students and the community.

Reflections on this year:

Our Monday seminars included more sessions about the organisation of Auroville, which were received well.

During classes of different subjects, the teachers tried to offer more reflections in relation to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

The faculty and the Student Council have been working together better, with good results.

Goals for next year:

Our main goal for next school year is to strengthen relations among students, staff, and teachers. We will try to achieve this through empowerment and by deepening the sense of community and of taking responsibility not just for oneself, but also for the living space and environment around us.