Published: 20th June 2020
Here's how this Bengaluru couple are making homeschooling cool via the internet
Poornima V, a Biomedical scientist-cum-teacher, talks about the homeschooling services she and her husband offer online through their start-up Vismaya Centre for Learning - and why people love it
Why promote rote learning when children can learn concepts practically through experiments, asks Poornima V, a Biomedical scientist and a PhD graduate from IIT Madras. Currently, she and her husband Srikara Mahishi are homeschooling four students online. If you think that the two have been teachers for a long time, you're wrong. While Poornima is a scientist by profession, Srikara was part of an R&D team in one of Bengaluru's MNCs. The duo quit their jobs as they wanted to pursue an avenue they truly love and in the process, help students who love to learn. Thus, the Vismaya Centre for Learning was born.
Poornima narrates the story of what pushed them to start Vismaya. "When I was mentoring some PhD students, I could see that they were not able to apply any concepts or their knowledge during research. I felt that there was a large gap in what the students learn in academics and how they apply it. Teaching is something that I have always loved and I wanted to explore it through homeschooling. I started by homeschooling two kids who are based in Dubai and both want to write the exam this October."
Srikara Mahishi takes French, English and Math classes
But what exam do these kids write? "Most of the kids who opt for homeschooling go through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and there are three levels to it. It is the third, fifth and eighth standard exams. Children below 14 years will attempt these three levels. If they are above 14 years, they will write the tenth and twelfth standard exams," Poornima tells us, adding that while one is 13 years old, the other is 15 years old.
Poornima does not believe in rote learning and believes that students must learn concepts through the problem-solving method. Talking about the kind of workshops she conducts for children, she says, "Kids love to eat buns/bread but this is cooked using yeast. We need to tell them all about yeast and help them understand whether it is a living or non-living thing. I conducted a workshop where we baked buns and I showed them what yeast looks like. When I asked them if they thought it was living or non-living, the children said living. Then, I analysed the characteristics of a living thing. Similarly, for those children who said it is a non-living thing, I analysed the characteristics as well and they observed it under the microscope. We finally took a sample and allowed it to grow. Then they understood that it is a living organism." She adds, "These activities give birth to curiosity, reasoning and logical thinking in children."
Screenshot of online classes by Poornima
Currently, Poornima is facilitating homeschooling for three children. She takes classes online but it doesn't comply with the conventional method of teaching. "Whenever I teach them online, I give them activities through which they learn concepts in Science and Math. The students maintain a storyboard where they put up the plans for that particular week. Every morning, they tell me the activities they are interested in doing and I assign them accordingly. For instance, if they want to learn about light, they can use CDs to make a spectroscope and learn about spectra and other concepts. When they are not able to do the activities, I provide them with videos they watch to learn."
While Srikara teaches French, Math and English, Poornima teaches them Computer Science, Chemistry and Biology. In this process of teaching, they have developed some games related to Chemistry and Mathematics. "We would like to commercialise these games for which we will start a separate commercial entity. But Vismaya Centre of Learning will still be offered for free as we don't believe in commercialising education," she concludes.