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HOW SCHOOLS ARE PRIORITISING STUDENT SAFETY AMID COVID-19

Schools are opting for the online-offline blend along with safety and hygiene measures while gearing up to resume the classes, as and when they are granted permission.

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Many schools switched to online education a few months back, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, to continue providing education to students and keep them productively occupied during the pandemic. While it greatly helped as no other option was available, online education cannot replace classroom teaching in the long run, keeping in mind many students, as well as the schools, don’t have the technology required for the same.

Case in point, the underprivileged students do not have access to smartphones, laptops and high-speed Internet. They have suffered from a lack of education in the time of the pandemic which is a cause of concern. Also, the students who could not continue their sports training are suffering.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare allowed a phased reopening of schools from 21 September for classes 9-12 on a “voluntary basis” and with written permission from the parents. In many states, schools have not opened so far while partial reopening has been seen in some.

Resource strain, managing students and teachers as well as the expectations of parents while not overburdening the staff and increased operational costs are making the decision of reopening schools difficult for the administrations.

Since Covid-19 is not going to go away soon, schools are getting ready to resume classes with safety and hygiene protocols, operational changes and use of technology for seamless learning.

The circumstances are indeed worrisome, but schools are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff. They will be taking the utmost precautions for the same.

Bharat Goyal, founder and director of Bhartiyam International School, Uttarakhand, opines, “The crucial aspects of reopening include regular disinfection of school building, sanitisation protocols of every individual entering the premises, directions and marking for maintaining social distancing inside the school premise. To ensure the above, automatic sanitiser dispensing machine, digital face mask detection, automatic temperature sensors, queue marks and more will be used. The school furniture has been reorganised to ensure social distancing inside the school premise including classrooms. SOPs have been made for administration, teachers and students.”

He adds that besides these, the stress of implementing a blended offline-online model is extreme. The schools have to ensure that there is a seamless transition between online to the hybrid model, but many factors are posing difficulties in its implementation. Since the entire student strength will not be coming to school for offline classes, so enabling the same class online is a challenge for many. Otherwise, the teachers will have to take the same class twice.

Goyal points out, “This poses increased pressure for teachers wherein they are currently facing pay cuts and with an increased workload, there is a big chance of health risks as well. The transport system will also to run in extreme loss with half capacity students boarding at any given time. All these are posing operational problems in front of school administrations, in a country like India where the majority of schools are budget schools, with low technology adoption and in Covid-19 pandemic, their fee collections has also been low.”

All the classrooms of the school are equipped with smartboard and digital communication equipment. The teachers would be taking offline classes and share the same content digitally. Undoubtedly, this blended model is relatively expensive but can pave a way for a smooth transition between online to a hybrid model, which is the need of the hour.

Like some other private schools, Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi, too is equipped with the necessary technologies to provide a seamless learning experience. Principal Alka Kapur informs that teachers would be simultaneously taking offline and online classes. Going a step ahead, the school has also come up with O lab app for practical experiments. The syllabus has also been reduced by 30%.

“Since the talks of reopening of schools have been doing the rounds, we have been receiving calls/texts from worried parents/guardians of our students. We understand that these are tough times. Everybody is scared, especially parents. Yet, complying with government norms is essential,” says Uttam Singh, principal of Jindal Public School, Dwarka, Delhi. He informs, “We have been waiting for the government’s orders to reopen the school. To prepare ourselves for the reopening, we have been involved in diligent planning of the precautions to be undertaken. We have placed the desks and chairs a few feet apart to avoid any physical contact. We will be asking the students to sanitise their hands at regular intervals. At the entry point, the guards and teachers will be monitoring the body temperature of students and sanitise them. Every student, staff member, management, etc, will have to go through the same routine to ensure safety.”

Many schools have reopened in Uttar Pradesh. Talking about it, the spokesperson of VIBGYOR High, Lucknow, emphasises, “In compliance with the statutory guidelines, we restarted physical classes from 20 October 2020, for grades 9 to 12. The safety and well-being of students and staff are our absolute priority, and hence we ensured that the entire campus including playgrounds, laboratories, corridors, and stairs, were disinfected before reopening and that the process is being carried out regularly. Signages have been put up to facilitate adherence to social distancing norms, and we have limited the class size to 15 students.”

The spokesperson adds, “Only students with written permissions from their parents are allowed to attend the school, and they wear face masks and face shields. The staff wears masks and temperature checks are conducted for students and staff before entry and exit in the campus. We have also set up medical care stations around the campus, for quick access by students in case they feel unwell, and we also plan to conduct drives to raise awareness about Covid-19 precautions.”

Like various other schools, Greenwood High International School, Bengaluru, is waiting for the go-ahead from the government to implement the phased reopening of school. School principal Aloysius D’Mello underlines, “Our Classrooms and campus are large enough to maintain social distancing. We are also introducing coatings on frequently used surfaces, which cause ionising substances mutating viruses. Our buses will now be equipped with thermal indicators, we will have thermal indicators at entry and exit points in the school and the entry and exits will be limited.”

Talking about how schools can meet the challenges at hand, Kapur says, “Schools have to maintain proper physical distancing among the students. They would have to talk to students and concisely explain to them its importance. Also, the schools would have to make sure that a member of the staff is always keeping an eye on the students.”

“Amid all this, the most important thing to remember is that if the parents aren’t convinced, they don’t have to send their children to school. The schools are primarily being opened to give an option to the students, who otherwise have no means of accessing education,” asserts Kapur.

Parents are naturally concerned about the safety of their children and are talking to them about things to keep in mind whenever they will be attending school. “I would first of all ask my child not to remove her mask at any cost. It’s a necessary and basic precaution against the novel coronavirus. Secondly, I would ask her to sanitise each and everything she touches, uses or sits on including chairs, table, books, stationery and more. Thirdly, I would ask her not to touch or hug or shake hands with others. Just to be 100% sure, I would ask her to keep a distance from her friends (at least 1 metre),” says Anika Chawla, a Delhi resident, whose daughter is in 11th class.

WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD SCHOOLS TAKE?

1. The safest way for students to commute to and from school would be via private vehicles of their parents/guardians. Other modes of conveyance should be avoided for the time being.

2. Thermal scanners should be placed at all the entry points to ensure that any student or staff, who is showing signs of sickness, could be isolated and treated as quickly as possible.

3. The classes should be conducted in a staggered manner. This will mean that at a time only a certain number of students would be present in the class. This would allow the school authorities to easily maintain proper physical distancing among the students and further reduce the chances of infection getting spread. Blended learning—with the help of webcams, speakers and microphones, supported by a strong network—would also play a major role in this, as the students can learn via a balanced combination of online and offline modes.

4. Schools should also consider investing in touchless sanitiser and water dispensers. Since the Covid-19 strain is notorious for spreading via surfaces, arranging touchless appliances could make a huge difference.

—By Alka Kapur, principal of Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi.

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Educationally Speaking

Eight simple takeaways for success in life and work

These stories may not be new but if followed they can be life-changing. They remind us how small changes can make big differences in our lives.

Priyanka Mehta

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Being an efficient Principal is not a job. It’s a way of life! You must always keep the teacher alive within the leader and vice versa as each fires the other. These stories are not new nor have been written by me. They have been assorted from various books and sources on the Internet. They have, over the years, inspired me and have been used at various training platforms. The takeaways are simple but important. We know we must do certain things in a certain way, but we tend to forget. They have been put together here for your easy reading.

#1 ANECDOTE

Once a mother decided to take her young boy, who had become addicted to eating sugar, to Gandhiji for help. After a scorching tiring journey, she finally reached Gandhiji’s ashram and asked him to tell her son to stop eating sugar as it wasn’t good for his health. Gandhiji refused to help at that time and asked the mother to bring the child back to him after two weeks. The mother was confused and upset and took the boy home. Two weeks later, she came back. This time Gandhiji looked directly at the boy and said, “You should stop eating sugar. It is not good for your health.” The boy nodded his head and promised he wouldn’t. The boy’s mother was puzzled. She asked, “Why didn’t you tell him that two weeks ago when I brought him here?” Gandhiji smiled and said, “Two weeks ago, I was eating a lot of sugar myself.”

Takeaway: Leaders must model the behaviour they ask of their subordinates.

#2 ANECDOTE

A gentleman was once walking through an elephant camp when he noticed that the elephants weren’t being held by chains. All that was holding them back from escaping the camp was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs. The man stood there, completely confused. The elephants could easily escape from captivity using their strength to break the rope. But instead, they weren’t even trying at all. Curious and wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape. The trainer’s answer was an eye-opener. He said, “When they are very young and much smaller, we use the same size rope to tie them. At that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” The only reason that the elephants weren’t breaking free was that over time they believed that it just wasn’t possible.

Takeaway: Believing you can become successful is the most important step in actually achieving it.

#3 ANECDOTE

Many years ago, in a small Italian town, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a loan-shark. The loanshark was a very old, unattractive man who liked the businessman’s daughter. He decided to offer the businessman a deal that he would wipe out the debt if he could marry the businessman’s daughter. Needless to say, this proposal was met with a look of disgust. The loan-shark then thinking smart said that he would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black. The daughter would then have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, he would marry the girl, and the debt would be wiped. But if it was white, the debt would be wiped, and the daughter wouldn’t have to marry him. Standing on a pebble-strewn path in the businessman’s garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles. While he was picking them up, the daughter noticed that he’d picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag. He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one. The daughter naturally had three choices; refuse to pick a pebble from the bag, take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan-shark for cheating or pick a pebble from the bag fully aware it was black and sacrifice herself for her father’s freedom. She drew out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it, ‘accidentally’ dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles on the path. She then said to the loan-shark, “Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.” The pebble left in the bag was obviously black. As the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed, he had to play along with the trick and pretend as if the pebble that the daughter had dropped was white. He lost the marriage proposal and had to clear the debt as well.

Takeaway: Smart, out-of-the-box thinking can sail you through tough situations.

#4 ANECDOTE

Four frog friends were travelling through the woods. Two of them accidentally fell into a deep pit. When the other two frogs crowded around the pit and saw how deep it was, they told the two frogs that there was no hope left for them. However, the two frogs decided to ignore what the others said, and they attempted to jump out. This time they fell back harder and also bruised themselves. The two frogs on the top shouted harder and told them to stay safe inside, as jumping out was not possible. Eventually, one of the frogs, believing what the others had to say, gave up. However, the other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. The three frogs now yelled at him to stop and accept his destiny to die in that pit. But he jumped even harder this time and made it out, leaving one behind in the pit. When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?” The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

Takeaway: Your thoughts are very powerful. They will make anything happen, no matter what people say.

#5 ANECDOTE

There was once a farmer who sold a pound of butter to a baker. One day the baker decided to weigh the butter to see if he was getting the right amount. When he weighed it, he found the butter of less than the ordered quantity. Angry about this, he took the farmer to court. The judge asked the farmer if he was using any measure to weigh the butter. The farmer replied, “Sir, I am primitive. I don’t have a proper measure, but I do have a scale.” The judge asked, “Then how do you weigh the butter?” The farmer replied, “Sir, long before the baker started buying butter from me, I have been buying a pound of bread from him. Every day when the baker brings the bread, I put it on the scale and give him the same weight in butter. If anyone is to be blamed, it is the baker.”

Takeaway: In life, you get what you give. Don’t try and cheat others.

#6 ANECDOTE

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. He then hid and watched to see if anyone would move the boulder out of the way. Some of the King’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many people loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none of them did anything about getting the stone out of the way. A peasant then came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to push the stone out of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant went back to pick up his vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King explaining that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

Takeaway: Every obstacle we come across in life gives us an opportunity to improve our circumstances.

#7 ANECDOTE

One day a man found a cocoon of a butterfly. He noticed a small opening on one side. He sat down to watch the butterfly as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Suddenly it stopped making any progress and looked as if it was stuck. The man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and cut off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily, although it had a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings. The man sat there waiting for the wings to enlarge to support the butterfly to fly. But that didn’t happen. The butterfly struggled there, unable to fly, crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body to ultimately die. The kind-hearted man didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle needed by the butterfly to get itself through the small opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, thus preparing itself to fly to life.

Takeaway: Our struggles develop our strengths. Without them, we never grow or get stronger.

#8 ANECDOTE

There once was a little boy who had a very bad temper. His father decided to hand him a bag of nails and said that every time the boy lost his temper, he had to hammer a nail into the fence. Conscious of the situation, the boy was shocked to see that he had hammered 37 nails into the fence on the first day. The boy gradually began to control his temper over the next few weeks, and the number of nails he was hammering into the fence slowly decreased. He discovered it was easier to control his temper than to hammer those nails into the fence. Finally, one day when the boy didn’t have to hammer a single nail, he rushed to his father. The father then told the boy to pull out a nail every day he kept his temper under control. The days passed, and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.”

Takeaway: Control your anger. Don’t say things to people that you may later regret.

The writer is director principal, Sarvottam International School, Greater Noida West. The article is an edited extract from her new book, ‘104 Traits of Highly Successful School Principals’ (Notion Press).

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ABEA TIES UP WITH JOHNS HOPKINS CTY TO BRING ONLINE PROGRAMMES

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The Aditya Birla Education Academy (ABEA) has collaborated with Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) to offer scholarships for CTY’s online programmes for advanced learners in India. Both ABEA and CTY aim to identify and support the needs of bright young learners in India through these online programmes at reduced rates up to August 2021.

Through this cooperation with CTY, Aditya Birla Education Academy is providing a 5% scholarship on tuition fees and reduction in the application fees up to August 2021.

This scholarship can be availed by only the first 50 advanced learners who apply to ABEA. Students in grades 2 through 12 can qualify through participation in the CTY Talent Search and demonstrating high ability in either quantitative or spatial reasoning (for math and science courses) or verbal reasoning (for humanities and writing courses).

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NURSERY SCHOOL ADMISSIONS IN DELHI TO BE CONDUCTED ONLINE

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The admission process for nursery and other classes across the national capital will start soon. Nursery admissions in private schools in Delhi this year will be held completely online. All schools in Delhi have been closed for primary classes since the last 11 months. The Education Ministry of the Delhi government will now work out a process for the admissions. The school forms will be downloaded and applications will also be submitted online for admissions. The list of the successful applicants will be displayed online and the parents of these students can pay the fees online. However, in government schools, the admission process would be conducted both via online and offline modes. Apart from nursery admission, admissions for other classes in government and private schools would also be started soon.

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Educationally Speaking

CAN CLASSROOM LEARNING RETURN TO NORMAL IN 2022?

Ankit Shyamsukha

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As vaccines undergo trials and others are rolled out across the world, it is expected that a large part of the vulnerable population will be protected against Covid-19 by the end of 2021. While it will take a few years before everyone gets the shot, especially with new strains of the novel coronavirus presenting a fresh challenge, there is still hope of returning to normalcy over the next two years. However, this will bring a major transformation to the education process as it will take the blended approach with both online and offline classes, depending upon the severity of the situation.

HOW THE PANDEMIC HAS AFFECTED EDUCATION

Education has been one of the worst-affected sectors in India during the pandemic. It has thrown a new challenge in every student’s life. The learning process of around 32 crore students in India had come to a halt all of a sudden when the pandemic hit. According to a UNESCO report, about 14 crore primary and 13 crore secondary students were affected. But that is also what made every student more resilient and open to adapting to new challenges. They opted for technological platforms for uninterrupted learning, while many educational institutions moved classes, examinations and internships to the online medium. Teachers assigned work via the internet and delivered lectures via online video conferencing apps. Thus, ovid-19 taught both students and teachers how to emerge victorious.

Even though the scenario was not similar everywhere, it was still a challenge which could be overcome with good internet penetration in rural areas. The government also postponed examinations for secondary and higher secondary classes and conducted them later while adhering strictly to Covid-19 guidelines.

THE EDUCATION SCENARIO IN 2022

Here are some of the major trends which will be observed in the education scenario in 2022. They may also be considered as positive outcomes of the pandemic and lockdown.

A shift towards blended learning: This kind of learning will give students exposure to both online and face-to-face learning. In a recent survey, it has been found out that 59% of students are more motivated to learn through a blended or hybrid mode than with a fully online course or a flipped classroom setting. It gives them the advantage of learning at their own pace and via digital technology. At the same time, virtual learning is often best consolidated by in-person interactions. SO, in many ways, blended learning combines the best of both worlds.

A rise in the use of learning management systems: There is a rising demand for learning management systems among educational institutions, especially for soft copies of learning material. This is providing a great opportunity to the companies which are developing and strengthening the learning management systems.

Though the outbreak of Covid-19 has had many negative impacts on education, educational institutions in India have accepted the challenges and adjusted to the new normal despite the initial hiccups of using technology. They are trying their best to provide seamless support and services to students and continue their education. In fact, it can now be said that the pandemic has brought an opportunity for the Indian education system to transform and enter a new era.

The writer is CEO of ICA Edu Skills.

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Educationally Speaking

The changing dynamics of Indian education system

In the post-Covid ‘study at home’ era, online classes and digital content for students seems to be gaining prominence. In this scenario, reimagining the education system as well as making information and technology available to all key stakeholders is essential to make everyone across the board future-ready.

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They say that the pen is mightier than the sword. However, with Covid-19 turning our lives topsy-turvy, neither the pen nor the sword seems to be of any use anymore, having been deftly replaced by the keyboard and the screen! Online learning has come as a ray of hope in these dreary times. When online classes were announced by schools last year, parents had been relieved to know that the education of their children would continue. Or, at least, they would be ‘occupied’ for a few hours – precious time that was being ‘wasted’ playing games and doing household chores would be replaced by the much needed studying, a top priority for most Indian parents.

With the new NEP 2020, there is a lot of confusion over teaching and learning, and the online teaching mode makes matters more complex. At this time, workshops to suit the ‘new normal’, in terms of the teaching-learning process, mentorship, NEP and what to expect from it, and many other topics, have become an integral part of training for educators across the board. There is also a lot of emphasis now on the teaching of languages, physical education, art and craft, and other practical subjects like science and music online because these are not just concept-based, they also have to be shown and observed and practised.

However, when we talk about online education, or even education per se, the three stakeholders have always been the school, the students, and the parents. But who is that one major player that has been hugely overlooked? The publishing fraternity!

Publishers have always played a major role in the Indian education system, but during the pandemic, they have been the real silent heroes behind the scenes. After numerous emails sent to parents, online classes began on platforms like Zoom, Google Classrooms and MS Teams. However, glitches became apparent soon – the obvious skill gap between the digital-age students, who are almost born tech-savvy, the relatively unskilled parents and teachers with their traditional approach to education, other challenges like homework, assessments, notebook corrections, and technological hurdles like making presentations for each class, ensuring participation of each child, ensuring that they have enough to do at home using worksheets, activities, stories to watch on YouTube, and so on. For parents, work multiplied manifold –taking care of the household, cooking, cleaning, sifting through numerous mails and reports, Zoom meetings, children’s homework and activities, etc. And this is where educational publishers stepped in. They rose to the occasion and provided online content through e-books and digital content like animated learning material, assessments, test generators, teacher training workshops, career counselling webinars and workshops for parents, and much more.

The virtual launch of a Marathi series called Saptrang for classes I through VIII by an educational publisher is one such example. It accommodated around 800 teachers of Marathi nationwide. The panel was moderated by an expert on the language and the event was about the practical usability of the books as well as the digital content that could be used in everyday classroom sessions, along with how the series aligns itself to the new NEP. The author of the series, Dr Manjusha Sanjay Swami, said, “Since life must go on with or without the pandemic, a virtual launch is an exceptional idea. It was executed with absolute precision, which was perfectly managed through a slide show, a Q&A session, followed by an interaction with many teachers, parents and students, without a glitch. Through this course, the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing will get developed at every stage of their learning, through extensive learning tools like animation, language games, and so on. The series also contains teaching aids which will help a teacher impart more knowledge regarding a chapter with fun exercises, discussions and thinking activities for students.”

Shammi Manik, CEO of a leading Indian educational publisher, says, “These are anxious times and it is imperative that we as partners in learning reach out to as many educators, parents and children in terms of giving them complete information about the rapidly changing education landscape while also addressing their concerns. Through the online mode, we have gotten much closer to our audience and they are able to reach out to us far more easily.”

However, with the internet being flooded with webinars and workshops, the content which looked great initially, seems to have lost some of its sheen now. Reasons for this include content becoming repetitive and too easily accessible on different channels. Therefore, managing content – be it in terms of e-books, worksheets, videos, webinars – must be carefully regulated so as to ensure that it is consumed by the maximum number of people while retaining its impacts. This is also a reminder that innovation is needed constantly for keeping the target audience engaged and ensuring that value is delivered at each step.

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Achariya World Class Education explores the role of happiness in education

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Role of happiness in Education

The Indian education system has undergone tremendous changes in the course of history. While factors like its success and failure are open to deliberation, one fact that cannot be ignored is that it had put the students under a mountain of pressure. From the pressure to score well to pressure to outshine in extra-curricular activities, all of it took a toll on students physical and mental well being. As move forward, it is the moral responsibility of each individual to make the New Education Policy address all those concerns for a better future.

Achariya World Class Education recently organised a thought-provoking webinar on the ‘Role Of Happiness in Education’ to understand and suggest how we can transform ourselves and the Indian education system.

In his inaugural remarks, Mr Samyak Chakrabatory, Founder & M.D. of X Billion Skills Lab, who was also the co-host, said, “For companies, students are essentially creators of revenue, for tuition classes- students are a way to attract more students and for schools-students have become mere cohorts that we need to push forward and take them to top the exams. In all of that, somewhere we have forgotten what about the child, what about the students and also moving out of that the role of education is also producing citizens of the country and of the world.”

Elaborating on what does happiness mean especially in the context of happiness, Dr J Arawindhan, Chief Mentor & M.D, Achariya World Class Education, said, “Education is all about expression. When you are able to express yourself in your head and your heart happily, willingly and smilingly; you are able to do things from your head and heart holistically without any limitations, you can see your own possibilities making into peak possibilities of your own expression- That is where the happiness is there in education. Expression should be there; Education should be towards that expression and that expression from the head, heart and hand should be integrated. Expression without the heart, expression without the head and expression without the hand is incomplete expression. Without the combination of these three, you will not have the state of happiness.”

Teachers are delivery mechanism of education. When asked how do we convince the teachers to not create more pressure or anxiety on students, Dr Arawindhan further added, “In context of a classroom, the teacher is like a magician. The interaction between a teacher and the student, the master and the fellow, is what is needed instead of mugging up a book. If we ask for skills, intelligence and expression of individuals, the schooling and the classroom experience would be much more happier. We need an ecosystem for that to happen.”

Speaking about how can schools and colleges transform itself to be a happy environment from an infrastructural point of view and behaviourally from a teacher’s perspective, Mr Biju Dominic, Chairman at FinalMile Consulting, Chief Evangelist at Fractal Analytics, said, “Happiness, from an overall perspective, as far as any activity is concerned, is when I want to do that activity over and over again and that I am looking forward to doing that activity. We say that there will be happiness when students say that ‘oh, I want to learn’ or ‘I want to do that activity again and again. From a brain’s point of view, when I am sort of anticipating something that I really want to do, the chemical that gets released is the dopamine. If dopamine gets released, the brain wants more and more of it. When we create the whole environment of learning, wherein students, teachers, school, parents and the physical environment play a role, happiness really comes alive in the world of education.”

Spiritual and mindfulness coach Shyamal Vallabhjee, highlighting the role of spirituality as an essential ingredient in a schools’ curriculum, said, “if you take one sect of spirituality, for example Buddhism, we talk of awareness and equanimity. Awareness is your ability to draw your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and hold it and equanimity is your ability to distance from it. Through awareness, we cultivate a practice called mindfulness. Mindfulness is your ability to stir your mind. When you stir your mind physiologically, we also relax the body. If you look at the physiology, the hormone and the gut that drives happiness is serotonin. 90% of your serotonin is in your gut. If we can bring a spiritual practice like breath work, mindfulness, gratitude to the forefront of education then what you are doing is that you are ensuring each person is cultivating the art of centering their mind every single time. This doesn’t mean that they would not be unhappy or they will not have anxiety but it means that the frequency at which these incidents happen will reduce quite drastically. Also, it will empower them to reset their mind and body every single time they move out of it.”

He further added, “With respect to happiness, the biggest problem is that we tend to link happiness with success and that is the first thing that education needs to break out of. Until you do not break the invisible thread that somehow got linked, then people will feel that they are on a conveyor belt and they need to continuously do more and more. As a result of that, you are going to make yourself a victim to everything outside. Any person you speak to about happiness, will tell you that happiness starts within.”

When asked how do we incorporate it in a systematic fashion, Shyamal Vallabhjee responded, “In a world of information overload, more important that the habit you cultivate, are the people you choose to listen to because they will reiterate the habits that you need to become the person that you want to. We can change the education system very simply. We try to create a practice where every single class from Grade I to Grade XII, the one minute of their practice is by stilling the mind and then we teach people how to become hypersensitive of how they choose to listen to.”

Watch the entire telecast here: 

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