Every seed in its sleep awaits the light – Kirsten-Daiensai
Samashti aspires to be that guiding light for each child under its fold. Holistic development requires a pedagogy that takes care of the child’s education, well-being, mental health and happiness quotient using a progressive and inclusive approach. Apart from the unique, constantly updated academic curriculum, its philosophy to bring out the best in every child is called the ‘Panchmukhi Shiksha‘.
‘Panchmukhi Shiksha’ or the five aspects of learning as the name suggests, is a powerful approach towards the overall development of a child. The five elements of this integrated learning namely Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Moral and Spiritual, add value to the child’s life in a unique way.
(1st element of Panchmukhi Shiksha)
An active body is more ready to receive information than an idle one. Be it indoor activity or outdoor, a growing child needs stimulation at a physical level in order to stay alert through the day. Regular sessions of yoga, sports and games carefully incorporated into the routine of academics pave way for the students to develop on all fronts.
The placement of library, labs, extracurricular spaces and the lunch area were strategically planned to make children move around the campus. Being out under the sky in nature, soaking up the sun as they walk around the campus, gives them not only the much needed vitamin d but also invigorates the mind. Staying fit becomes a habit if incorporated into a child’s life early on.
The sports infrastructure demonstrates commitment to the physical health of Samashtians. A football and cricket ground, a basketball court, indoor badminton court, golf training area, skating area and a tennis court in 10 acre campus, shows the significance the school gives to keep a child physically fit.
(2nd element of Panchmukhi Shiksha)
Challenging a child’s intellect is a way to keep the brain cells working continuously. In the space of learning new concepts, having a clear objective makes learning methodical, and understanding the subjects in an easy manner.
Interdisciplinary learning is promoted using ‘STREAM’ education (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) as the base. This excites learners to challenge themselves in all aspects. The school has dedicated labs for the sciences, computers and math. Technology goes hand in hand with engineering.
The importance of reading has taken a backseat in the visual world. Reading books widens the imagination and broadens the interest in the unknown. A huge, well lit, well ventilated and well stocked library covering all genres and topics, stands out majestically on the campus, to inculcate reading habits in children from a very young age.
Fine arts, which include performing arts as well as visual arts, are an important contributor to the intellectual growth of a child. The need for a child to be involved in artistic pursuits of their choice cannot be emphasized enough as creativity plays a crucial role in bringing out the best in them. Beautifully designed amphitheatre at the campus caters to performing arts.
‘SAM Ed talks’ – designed on the pattern of TED talks, give an opportunity to improve the public speaking skills of the students, Olympiads, regular in-house as well as inter-school competitions and exhibitions, are a great means to help build confidence in children. For every level the child is in, we have a set of challenges that usher in a desire to excel.
(3rd element of Panchmukhi Shiksha)
A balanced mind is as important as a physically fit body. Supporting children to maintain a healthy outlook towards life is the need of the hour. The constant comparisons, pressures and media exposure is leading to children getting confused and feeling lonely many a times.
In order to balance the external disturbances, one of the many methods used at Samashti is ‘Zones of regulation’. Knowing which zone the children feel they are in, helps them in finding peer group support. Becoming aware of and expressing their emotions and having someone to listen to their inner state of mind, brings an overall emotional balance.
No one can be happy and excited, or angry and frustrated at all times. The idea of a ‘Thinking chair’ in each classroom, was introduced to help the students understand their emotions. Too much excitement or too much aggression could be attributed to the child not being able to control his internal emotions. Trying to reflect on their behaviour, at the thinking chair has worked wonderfully with our children.
Using cooperative learning philosophy, children are being taught to encourage each other to learn and cope with their emotions. ‘We-Time’, an everyday interactive ritual followed by children, makes the bond between teachers and peers stronger.
(4th element of Panchmukhi Shiksha)
Morals can be a very tricky thing to teach children.
But with carefully chosen stories, discussions on the situations arising from them and closely facilitated experiences, energies are chanelized to absorb the importance of thinking for the community, and not just the self. ‘Being wise curriculum’ was designed to provide space for the same.
Being accountable for one’s own actions becomes a virtue when a child takes charge of the tasks by herself or himself.
Assigning specific responsibilities according to age, helps in understanding how things are managed around the school. It builds a sense of ownership in children towards the campus, its facilities and the people, and makes them feel responsible towards its upkeep. Respect and gratitude for the housekeeping staff grows, as children understand staff’s role in running the school.
‘Srishti Gyan’ modules for pre-primary children include birds, animals, flora and fauna in the curriculum to inculcate a sense of connection with the other species we share our earth with.
Special focus is given to this aspect. For instance, a project undertaken to make bird feeders, with children sitting in silence to watch the tiny birds peck at the food, can bring one closer to nature than any lesson in a book. Such well thought out acts, educate children to be responsible, kind and empathetic towards all living beings, not just humans.
‘Bucket fill technique’, where a child earns stars for helping others, doing good deeds, making others happy, is helping children make independent decisions to be a better person. All these practices under Panchmukhi Siksha, motivate the children of Samashti to be their best selves, building their character, and making them morally responsible individuals.
(5th element of Panchmukhi Shiksha)
The famous story of an artist, who drew a beautiful house with a splendid door which did not have a handle on the front, describes spirituality at its best. When asked, as to how he could make such a big mistake, the artist said
“It isn’t a mistake. The door to our heart has to be opened from the inside”!
Religion and spirituality are two different entities.
Spirituality is a way of life no matter what faith one follows. Realising that we are just a speck in this whole universe opens new frontiers. Knowing that we are nothing without the whole world that we are part of, lets one accept and respect all. A child needs to stay connected to the roots, yet be ready to fly when needed.
A simple activity like hugging a tree to express gratitude for being there, can fill joy in their little hearts. Be it the acceptance of the elements – air, water, earth, space and fire, through introduction to the concept of Pancha bhootas in pre-primary curriculum, or the acceptance of our senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing and seeing, through hand held facilitation at primary levels, the constant addition to their spiritual thinking, widens the horizons of a child’s mind.
It prepares the child to receive knowledge.
When heart, mind and body are aligned, every child feels one with self. Making a conscious effort to understand what one is here for in this world, leads to getting clarity on every aspect of life. Yoga, philosophy classes, mindfulness and heartfulness sessions help in building the required confidence in a child to face any obstacle in life with ease and calm.
Learning new things becomes much easier and purposeful, as they are encouraged to ask questions and engage in meaningful conversations, which awaken their spiritual consciousness. The pilot project for grade 9, wherein the principal interacts with children once a week and listens to them pouring their hearts out, is a great way to build an emotional bond with them.
One of the many good practices at Samashti is the adoption of ‘Theme of the Year’.
All activities during the year are woven around this theme. Some of the themes taken up previously were ‘ Save Water’ , ‘ Creativity and Innovation’, ‘ Change’ etc. The theme for the year 2020-21 is ‘Balance’ – very appropriate in the current pandemic scenario. Coordinating a whole year along with the theme, drives in the practicality of those facets in daily life and the parent gets to see the positive changes in their children even at the home front.
Taking the best of all practices, Samashti’s pedagogy is an amalgam of the best of many philosophies such as Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Multiple Intelligences theory, Inquiry based learning, Cooperative learning and many more.
Brainstorming on issues and progress as a team, is a continuous process at Samashti. Parents’ feedback is crucial to plan for the year ahead. The views that the parents and children share, get discussed by the teachers, staff and the principal periodically to come up with the best practices.
The primary caretakers at home, should let the children be free-spirited and explore by themselves
Includes the teachers and the support staff, should be able to identify and understand the different abilities of each child and draw out their hidden potential.
Should be ready to wholeheartedly receive the abundance that life offers.