SAIIER 2020:Aikiyam School
Aikiyam School provides a progressive kindergarten, primary and intermediate education for children from Kuyilappalayam and other Tamil villages geographically connected to Auroville. The school's mission is to maintain a creative and joyful atmosphere. The school provides a quality bilingual education in Tamil and English, covering all of the standard academic subjects, physical education, and a wide variety of vocational options, giving children a range of choices in the type of education they will pursue when leaving the school.
Activities of the year:
This year Aikiyam had 249 children, ages 3 to 14 years.
Aikiyam School has a variety of programmes which are helping the school to be a child-centered school.
- Children are given 3 years of Montessori experience which help them to develop sensory and pre-operational skills. Since all children get equal opportunity to learn, Aikiyam classrooms are no-failure classrooms.
- Children are observed by a special educator, and a problem-based remedial curriculum is knitted to help individual children. This curriculum does not separate children who have some learning difficulties from their peer group, but supports both in the class and in the supportive learning classroom.
- Aikiyam School has a Fantastic Phonics programme and Get-Set-Go programme to teach English fluency in grades from upper kindergarten to 4th Grade.
- STEM Land activities are included for upper primary classes from this academic year onwards.
- Varieties of vocational trainings and creativity classes are part of Aikiyam’s regular curriculum: carpentry, clay work, tailoring, embroidery, jewelry making, dance, singing and hatha yoga.
- Each class carries out classroom micro projects every year in order to develop insights among students.
- Evening sports is a regular programme of the school.
Highlights of the year:
1. Teacher training for Kindergarten teachers: Aikiyam kindergarten teachers are emerging as ‘integrated activity-oriented classroom’ teachers with the help of weekly classes and feedback by our Montessori trainer.
2. A volunteer teacher trainer from Germany worked with us this year. His ideas, sharing, and classroom demonstrations were very much appreciated by all the teachers. His presence on campus every day brought a great deal of clarity in necessary nitty-gritty of teaching skills. He reflects:
- “Vanakkam, my name is Benjamin. I am from Germany and 19 years old. About one year ago I first decided to work at Aikiyam School in the context of a voluntary service. My first day was at the beginning of September. I was supposed to spend one year at Aikiyam, but due to the current situation I was send back to Germany.
At my first day I was assigned to STEM Land in order to support the leading teacher Saravanan especially in mathematics.The concept of STEM Land pursues autonomous and individual learning. Further tasks were assisting swimming classes or practicing individual English reading skills.
Working with the students had been a unique and enriching experience for me as well as for the students. Considering the fact that I had very little experience working with children up to this point, the lively and sincere attitude of the students made it easy to connect and work with them. They really made me feel welcome and appreciated throughout my service. I think that especially Aikiyam's philosophy and values distinguish Aikiyam from many other schools. The fact that there is no violence at school really improves the learning environment. Of course sometimes little problems show up, such as disobedience or students have not done their homework, but these issues are usually caused by their situation at home.
The school offers a rich diversity of opportunities and is a place I would always come back to.”
3. 7th Grade children were taken to the All India Radio Station by their social science teacher. Children prepared a half-hour programme, and their programme was recorded and later telecasted on 22nd February. Their performance was very much appreciated.
4. Field trips:
- Kindergarden children were taken on an experiential trip between Puducherry and Villupuram on a train. This experience was something that triggered their mind, comparing the stories they heard about trains and train stations, the pictures they see in baby books and reality. It was thrilling.
- Children were taken to New Waves, an Aurovilian Electronics company to make them understand chips waving, soldering and components installations in real life. This visit helped the children to break the taboo of ‘distance between man and machine’.
5. Children participated in different activities this year within Auroville and outside Auroville.
- 60 Aikiyam children were invited to attend a day-long drawing event by the Lt. Governor of Puducherry. Children drew thematic pictures and exhibited them on the roadside for the general public to see.
- Children also participated in a school drawing event. The topic was ‘Good pupils’. Children from 4th - 8th grade drew pictures and wrote captions on their pictures. They also brought their pictures to the morning assembly and explained what they drew and the meaning of their caption.
6. We conducted ‘micro projects’ in every class. These micro projects used inductive and deductive research methodology to come to an understanding. Vibrant concrete understandings were reached about abstract maters and concepts as a result.
7. Aikiyam School children conducted a ‘student leaders’ election this year too. They selected their school pupil leader, class leaders and volunteers for campus cleanliness.
- Children's critical thinking has been nurtured.
- Children had contact with good role models.
- Children demonstrated the power of ‘self-governance’.
- Children created an Eco-Pond, a permanent model for all children to understand aquatic life and plants.
STEM Land has given a great opportunity for children to work with matter and physical systems.
The problem of the year was the abrupt closure of the school due to COVID-19. Many children could not exhibit their work to other children and parents, which they were looking forward to do.