Published: 04th August 2017
There is a DIY space for the curious child. Visit soon?
Chennai’s Quest has opened its doors to children who would like to learn by doing
In a quest to provide children with spaces where they learn through discovery, the Chennai-based NGO Altius Foundation established Quest in Pallavakkam, Chennai last September. Here, unlike schools or summer camps, a very DIY (do-it-yourself) approach is followed. Moving away from the regular outcome-oriented classes, children, simply put, learn by doing. Srikanth Chandrasekaran, the co-founder of Altius, explains, “The aim was to build a community space which can enable learning by doing.” Quite a broad mission we say! So, don’t be surprised when you walk into this 6,500 square feet space and find everything that caters to the interest of a child — from the conventional toys and a library, to a STEM room, a thread works room with weaving equipment from New Zealand and much more. These resources are available for children aged six and above, who at the beginning can take help from one of the four facilitators or the online resources available, and then explore on their own.
Quest schedules monthly events. Some of their past events have revolved around Halloween and Harry Potter
With the traditional schooling model growing outdated by the minute and affordable space becoming more premium for schools, there is a growing need for a place where a child is encouraged to learn organically. But for this we need a change in the mindset of parents as well, Chandrasekaran feels. “Though Quest seems like a fun place, children can learn a lot through self-directedness. The mindset of pushing them into outcome-oriented classes needs to stop,” the 50-year-old tells us. At Quest, the parent too can engage themselves in certain classes, like cooking, or join their child to share the experience and understand them better. They have also started an Individualist Exploration Plan (IBE), where children can make their own plans and utilise any of the zones. Mind you, all these activities have less to do with academics and more to do with learning skills, notes Chandrasekaran.
Over the weekends, Quest screens educational documentaries. They are about nature and Srikanth, being an enthusiast, hand picks them
Though their aim is to break even, Chandrasekaran makes it clear that they do not want economics to drive the programme. And though it may seem hard to believe, he also tells us about some particular complaints from parents. “They complain that their children enthusiastically wake them up as early as six in the morning, urging them to take them to their class (at Quest),” he laughs. With complaints like that, who needs compliments!