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Pioneering Joyful Experiential Learning

Anju and Pascal Chazot, winner of K-12 – Innovative School of India, describe their school where learning transcends textbooks

Anju Chazot
Pascal Chazot

From crafting games and toys to developing their own classroom, students in grades 1 to 12 actively participate in hands-on learning experiences that foster critical thinking and subject connections in history, arts, mathematics, science, and the environment Mahatma Gandhi International School (MGIS) has been a trailblazer and recognised as a pioneer in the realm of Joyful Experiential Learning since its inception in 1999. Operating under the aegis of a trust established by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), MGIS exemplifies a successful Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative aimed at fostering innovative pedagogy and teacher training. Several of MGIS's pedagogical innovations, including its distinctive progress report card, trans-disciplinary learning approach, and commitment to providing free education to underprivileged students, have influenced broader educational reforms such as the Right to Education (RTE) Act and the National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020. 


Innovative pedagogy: Generated Resources Learning (GRL) 

At MGIS, learning transcends textbooks. Instead, students from various grade levels engage in real-life, trans-disciplinary projects directly relevant to their contexts. For instance, they manage a cafeteria, produce social issue-focused films, draw insights from communities to preserve indigenous knowledge (e.g., the matka fridge), design their own classrooms, and curate heritage museums. These activities encompass diverse subjects, including languages, science, mathematics, entrepreneurship, health, technology, media, culture, and more. From crafting games and toys to developing their own classroom, students in grades 1 to 12 actively participate in hands-on learning experiences that foster critical thinking and subject connections in history, arts, mathematics, science, and the environment. 


Multi-sensorial, embodied cognition pedagogy 

MGIS's pedagogy hinges on multi-sensorial engagement and embodied cognition. By employing spatial design and a wide array of everyday objects and materials, students explore, inquire, create, act, and reflect within their classrooms. MGIS's faculty members have imparted experiential learning training to schools under various boards, including CBSE, KVS, and EMRS, emphasising toy-based pedagogy and 'Pedagames,' an approach centred on students crafting their own board games. (Anju Chazot, the Founder-Director of MGIS, holds prominent roles in educational committees, including the CBSE's Holistic Progress Card committee, the NCERT's Toy Based Pedagogy committee, the Ministry of Education's National Focus Group, and the NCERT's National Committee for Teaching Learning Materials). 


Curriculum freedom and project-based learning 

Teachers at MGIS enjoy the freedom to develop content based on defined competencies and concepts instead of being confined to textbooks. The curriculum is emergent, with projects stemming from students' interests and needs, whether they involve film production, awareness campaigns, or forming music bands. These projects foster a wide range of skills, including communication, social skills, technology literacy, ethics, critical thinking, and teamwork. Students choose their projects, methods of inquiry, presentation resources, and workspaces, enabling differential learning paces. 


Holistic assessment and progress reporting 

MGIS has moved away from traditional marks-based assessment since 1999. Instead, children are assessed based on tasks within projects, employing criteria with rubrics. Formative assessments utilise participatory methods, often involving students in setting their assessment criteria. The MGIS progress report is participatory, incorporating self-reflection, peer feedback, parental input, and teacher synthesis since 1999. This diversity in assessment methods ensures a more equitable evaluation system, with students presenting portfolios, podcasts, role-plays, videos, artwork, and written assignments, as reflected in the National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020.

 

Valuing diversity and holistic education 

MGIS acknowledges and celebrates diverse skills, talents, and abilities through an array of projects, ranging from sports events to fashion shows and awareness campaigns on issues such as electronic waste. This inclusivity is mirrored in the progress report, which evaluates attitudes, caring behaviour, mindfulness, and environmental consciousness, recognizing their significance in the learning process. Conflict resolution takes place through class councils and open dialogue. 


Cultivating scientific temper and overcoming fear of failure 

Scientific temper is nurtured as students engage in exploration, observation, and interactions with people and places through their projects. The absence of conventional grading mitigates the fear of failure, with feedback stemming from the real-world rather than an authoritarian source. 


Diverse educational boards 

Despite its small size, MGIS offers a broad spectrum of educational boards, including Cambridge, IB Career Programme, IB Diploma Programme, BTEC (UK), and Mission Laique Francaise. This diversity empowers students to select a wide range of subjects without the constraints of streams. 


Reforming board examinations 

MGIS believes that Xth and XIIth-grade board examinations require reform to align with the objectives of the National Education Policy (NEP). Traditional schools often focus on teaching to the test, resulting in rote memorization of concepts and creating a market for private coaching centres that exploit students. A more creative and open-ended approach to board exams is advocated to foster genuine understanding and application of knowledge. 

In summary, MGIS has been at the forefront of innovative and experiential learning, shaping students into holistic individuals who embrace diverse skills and engage with their world meaningfully, unburdened by the pressures of traditional grading. The school's pedagogical innovations and commitment to progressive education serve as a beacon for the evolving landscape of Indian education. 

 


Tags assigned to this article:
k-12 pedagogy Anju Chazot Pascal Chazot

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