Published: 21st April 2017
This Waldorf curriculum inspired learning centre teaches maths and language using music, arts and dance
Prasanth Gangadharan, founder of T’Puram’s new 'beyond-school' learning centre talks about the alternative ways of teaching using music, arts and dance
Have you ever thought of learning mathematics and language through stories, theatre, poetry or music? At the Centre for Beyond School Learning Experiences in Thiruvananthapuram, an initiative by Learning Alternatives, children from various schools attend programmes that nourish their imagination and sharpen their spirit of inquisitiveness. Here they learn to seek answers through their own exploration. They experience the joy of creating things with their hands.
Prasanth Gangadharan, the founder of Learning Alternatives (LA), explains the thought behind this unique initiative. "Having been exposed to alternative ways of teaching during my stint as a teacher at Bangalore Steiner School, when I moved back to Trivandrum, my hometown, I was disappointed to find that the education scene only got more exam-focussed since my school days. I decided to come up with a programme that could help my own children and a few others."
Fun school: Sand sculpting event organised by Learning Alternatives
Learning Alternatives seeks to create an open and inclusive learning environment. The College of Engineering (Trivandrum) alum believes that children with different abilities can be reached through alternative ways of learning. Over the last year, through their LA Foundation Program, they have taught English and Maths to primary school children through stories, theatre, poetry, movement, outbound experiences, projects, artistic activities.
The programmes designed at LA have drawn inspiration from the world-renowned Waldorf curriculum, which is practised in over 1000 schools worldwide. "This, in large, stems from my own exposure to the Waldorf teaching methods as a teacher and a homeschooling parent," he says. Going forward, the institute will draw inspiration from more sources — project-based learning being one of them.
"Stories, you could say, are at the heart of our educational approach in the early years. Through stories we awaken the imaginative faculties in children, through re-telling, theatre and verses they gain confidence with language, through characterisation, puzzles weaved into stories and a lot of movement we help them break the mould of maths being all about following a set of standard processes and arriving at an answer," he explains. Their aim is to follow each child and see what approach works best for him.
I am interested in ways of learning that go beyond the rote-based, exam-driven framework that our conventional education system promote
Prasanth Gangadharan, Founder, Learning alternative
Teaching has always been a passion for Prasanth, although he took a while to realise it. "I was drawn to teaching even while I was working in the corporate sector. I started as a part-time faculty with B-schools, designed action-learning programmes, and told stories in government schools. Then this opportunity to teach in an alternative school came up and that proved to be a turning point," he says. He dreams of setting up an alternative and inclusive school one day.