The quality of education provided to students in present times continues to be a problem in private as well as government schools in our country. A report by Progressive School mentioned that instructional demand for current times is met by only one-third of schools, and a majority of them are private schools.
Another Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) threw light on the sorry state of affairs in Indian schools. It mentioned that students are promoted from a lower class to a higher class solely based on their marks and incremental learning.
Several schools ignore students' inborn talents and push them to study for a better academic score in their Board examinations. Thus, a child does not dwell on the individual characteristics that they have been blessed with. There is a lot of exaggeration about a child's school, his teachers and parents, which enforces a mindset that good marks guarantee a good life for the students. The country has more than 800 universities to reinforce the importance of academics, yet not even eight out of those 800 universities have a position in the top 200 universities of the world.
Dreamer's Factory- A Change
To change this particular obsession about marks, 24-year-old Leo Akash took to teaching and initiated the 'Dreamer Factory'. Speaking about the same to The Logical Indian, Akash said that he prepares students for their dreams. Under his initiative, he spoke to Principals from several schools across the country and decided on a model of schooling. His way of teaching allows academic work like completing and getting a notebook checked reserved for Sundays only.
He said, "All this plan has been put in use for a below-average student. An above-average student can finish a textbook and write their exams well. But, a below-average student faces several problems while studying."
He further added that the students are included in all social sections, not just the upper-income homes.
Leo has his roots in Chennai but moved to Haryana's Fatehabad for this endeavour. Coincidentally, Haryana was amongst the first states to open schools post the first wave of the pandemic. Since he was new to the place, initially, he faced a lot of resistance to his approach.
However, he eventually got some parents to accept that they would not be inclined towards whatever marks their child achieves in his academics but will learn life skills. They told the parents that their child would score a fifty or sixty on average, but they will be provided with one-to-one interaction with their professional teachers.
The parents are asked to sign a document accepting that they would not be focussing on their child's mark sheets so that the organisation works intensively on the child's dreams. They categorise students based on design thinkers, entrepreneurs and tycoons, research and development, and technical assistance.
From Monday to Friday, they implement an intensive module of education, in which they interact with the students and help them learn on their own by just being around. He has volunteers from his organisation who provide such training.
Leo explained, for instance, an Engineer tells him that he has 3 hours to spare with his students from Monday to Friday; the classes would be arranged for students with technical acumen by telling them the basics of physics, how experiments are conducted, their prospects and so on.
He said that such a type of learning is called "Project-based learning" in other countries like Finland. The organisation would analyse the students based on their habits, interests and hobbies and then send them for internships with the experts.
'Teacher-Less' Module Of Education
The expert gives the child's mentor the tasks to be completed in a duration of 15 days. For those days, the mentor closely works with the child, notes their strengths and weaknesses, gets the work done and submits it to the expert. The centre pin of this entire process is the mentor, who is monitoring the child.
After the expert receives the child's projects, he does not correct the assignments but evaluates them. The student who can clear the mark is taken up for further training. The idea behind this is that the inborn interests cannot be corrected or wronged, but they can be polished and refined.
There are different groups formed for students based on their interests. For instance, if a child is interested in content writing, he is put under 'Design Thinkers' category. Under this, there are graphic developers, app developers and website developers. He spoke about a Grade 9 student named Diksha, who wants to pursue architecture and has already begun to make her mark. Under expert guidance from the organisation, she is currently working on a residential architecture project under a professional who has experience of 12 years.
The faculty from the Dreamer's Factory gives a periodic report to the parents explaining how their child is performing. They also ask the parents if they want their children to be put on a job; there are times when experts agree to provide work to a 9th grader.
All these 56 students belong to St John's International School in Fatehabad. Leo calls his teaching model a 'teacher-less module' of education because he feels that everyone is a teacher in themselves. For instance, he gave a local electrician give a talk to his students interested in electrical engineering. The thought, Leo said, was that if the electrician can do a perfect job of wiring for an entire school, there is no better teacher than him who can teach his students the practicality of the subject.
Life-skill education is way more important than traditional education, where children are evaluated based on how they perform in their exams and not their overall development. Leo believes that life is more important than marks any day, and his passion lies in making young children pursue their passions. Real education, he feels, is much more than what textbooks can teach; it is what one learns in his day-to-day life.