Education revolution  

After having worked on several different social causes, I have realized that every road to bringing a profound social change some way or the other leads to education. 
 
So here I am. 
 
I myself have been taught the traditional way. And even though it worked out in my favour in a lot of ways, it still all backfired in the end. As a school student, I made textbooks my world and dedicated myself fully in excelling the exams. And surely I did – one should expect that with so much time investment – I was appreciated and even called a ‘best student’. It was much later when I graduated from school, came to college that I realized that despite treading along the ‘righteous’ path something had gone terribly wrong. With all the marks and accolades, why did I feel so insecure and dissatisfied? Marks were a part of my identity and when I found my grades slipping in college exams suddenly my identity was lost. I was no longer good at one thing that I used to be good at. Did that mean that I wasn’t learning anything? That I was worthless? How was it that the education which was supposed to empower me had just left me weak. Something  was missing. In fact, a lot of things were missing. 
 
World has taken giant leaps when it comes to technology. We live in an age where everything is connected, everything is recorded, and knowledge is just a click away.  But the educational pedagogy in most Indian schools haven’t kept up with this change. NEP could be an attempt to change that but the government alone can’t revolutionize education, the backbones of this industry – the teachers need to be “revolutionized” first.
 
How do we bring this revolution in ourselves? First step is to identify what education really means. The conventional educational pedagogy  is a teacher centric system where they play the role of (mostly underpaid & disrespected) knowledge givers who put an enormous amount of importance on marks and grades so that students could make it into one of the big shot colleges. This is not a valid success criterion. Preparing for big shot colleges doesn’t guarantee that the students are trained for the life challenges – taking care of their physical and mental health, knowing what they want in life, knowing what they don’t want in life, and knowing who they really are. But empowering teachers, although a very straightforward &  a seemingly obvious step – is not that obvious and nor that simple. What does an “empowered” teacher really look like? Ironically, it may mean taking power away from teachers, it might mean that they become mere facilitators and observers. 
 
Mere facilitators and observers?
 
Yeah ‘mere’ probably because there is nothing much to learn in ‘observing and facilitating’, although there’s a lot to unlearn – from being a propagator of knowledge, to a channelizer, and often a co-learner, shifting gears from active to passive, from knowing everything to knowing nothing, there are tonnes and tonnes of outdated manual instructions for educators that we need to offload. The shift changes from the tomes and textbooks to little things, a little less to what and a little more to how. Sometimes it’s difficult to judge where the real learning is happening because we have grown up with such notions of teaching and learning which are no longer valid, from that old tradition to shifting to this new paradigm, unlearning is harder than learning.
 
But we aim to do it anyway. This is what we dream of at MLC. It’s not exactly as simple. MLC is still an experiment with the aim to provide more independence in learning, more freedom for what one really wants to pursue. Quite expectedly, it doesn’t exactly run parallel to the conventional system but we are clear about what we are trying to achieve – redefining education in a manner that it is ready for and sensitive towards the future. And as far as revolutionizing education goes,  perhaps it begins with a much smaller phenomenon – a revolution within self. We are no revolutionaries though, we are all but humble observers, gardeners watching and learning as the plants grow.
 

 

Do you think that MLC is just a fancy term or does it add value to its students’ life? Does it live up to its name this way?
 
Fancy! The word itself calls out for multiple interpretations because of multiple reasons that are not under our control. It has been associated with multiple situations and has been classified into both negative and positive connotations. When it comes to the just the name MLC; I admit that it is fancy, obviously because of the full form (read Mavericks Learning Centre), the current educational backdrop, and a new ring to it! But, when it comes to what happens inside of MLC and how it functions; the way you want to use this word fancy can go for a 360• flip! 
 
Here is how.
 
MLC at its crux is a learning centre for students between the ages of 11-14 to do projects in different subject baskets ranging from Science to Humanities,  from Design to Language, from technology to arts, and from leadership to passion! While they are at it, they are diving into their passions and at the same time gaining the required knowledge and understanding of these subjects like never before as opposed to being in a conventional system of education. 
 
Here, the projects are not limited to the use of only your brains or only your body but a holistic use of your whole self! A few examples of what students do or can do are, making a coding project that integrates the understanding of one subject into the code and automates actions for you or making an arts project that focuses on one pressing matter in a subject field and portrays it for the layman to understand and work on it! 
Then comes the part where you assess it and this is one of the most intriguing aspects of MLC as well! MLC, while being a project-based learning centre is also a Skill-Based learning centre and it focuses on the development and implementation of 21st century skills using various platforms and systems! Students here get credit points for the projects they submit and these are directly linked to the skills they develop and the character traits they worked upon! 
 
So, after having been in this centre for around 6 months now; when someone asks me if this centre is just a fancy name or adds value to the students’ life.  My answer is this; it is left up to you what you want to make of it because here you are continuously learning new things and about yourself and it is your child’s individual journey growth that will tell you! 
What would you say is the driving force behind MLC ? How has your journey been so far ? What do you have to say about our young Mavericks ?

I think that the driving force behind the MLC is the curiosity of the students and a sense of freedom to be who you are. And the belief that every child is unique in his own way. You can’t pretend to like something for the sake of others and be happy about it, you can only be happy and satisfied when you are working on something with your whole heart and passion.

Another thing would be the ability of the mentors to learn, unlearn, and relearn.
See, what we have been taught in our schooling life and college, might not always be apt and applicable in the fast-paced and constantly evolving world of today. So it is also important for the facilitators to unlearn certain things of the past and actively relearn certain things of the present.

Students in this set-up are constantly exploring other fields to find their passion, either by themselves or by attending the exploration sessions by facilitators.

I joined MLC on June 8, the very next day after my birthday. And it was more than just a surprise, I was amazed to see all the kids, they were enthusiastic and excited to start the class, it was incredible. The journey so far has been an amazing experience. It has been a mental and emotional growth for me too. 
Watching young students working so hard on each project, their work ethics, proactiveness, talent, and curiosity is inspiring even for facilitators and many adults.

I had seen most students, after several attempts at explaining something, will just memorize the explanation word-for-word and regurgitate that on the test because they still don’t understand what on earth you’re talking about, but this is not at all the case with mavericks students.

For the young mavericks, I think they have a thirst for knowledge. They are inquisitive and motivated to find all the answers that pop up in their mind. You don’t have to stick around to give them questions or a lead to follow, they just make 100’s of questions on their own and start researching about them and just pop up with some of the great ideas and start working on them wholeheartedly. They have a genuine thrust for knowledge, and it will only grow until they become an expert in the field.