Three videos about the Project Week 2012 (in German language, but easily understandable and very enjoyable because of the beautiful music by Prema & EOL) are online on YouTube; this happened very recently because we forgot them in 2012… Afterwards the idea came to me to write some words about project weeks at our school.
We started in the Academic year 2008/09 with the very first project week. Why did we do this? The first and most important reason is that we are developing pedagogy for head, heart and hands which is very different from the traditional teaching style. Furthermore it is hard to keep the students concentrated onto a major task requiring unlimited time conditions within the rigid structure of the normal time table in the everyday life. It is well known that students – when they are playing – forget time and go deeply into this activity. Professor Gerald Huether, a German scientist researching about brain functioning and optimal learning conditions, emphasizes that enthusiasm is manure for the brain: students will learn best when they are full of enthusiasm because many neural connections in their brains will be created in this setting only. Vice versa true learning will be prevented if there is no enthusiasm. Boring and fearful learning settings will lead to bad results. So it is the question how to create learning settings triggering enthusiasm and motivation. The well-known conditions for creativity are joy and a fearless atmosphere. Out of these considerations it is logical to create a special setting for children enabling them to go deeper into activity – without a rigid time limitation. That was the very reason to introduce project weeks in our pedagogy.
Our first project week was primarily a project week for the teachers who – as local teachers from Mudigubba – did not know this setting. They painted the class rooms in cooperation with the students; another group created models for our acclaimed Nature Concept School which was a dream at that time. The younger students formed a variety of clay items. We took five days’ time for this work. Teachers and students were facing unusual and unknown situations, but they mastered them in a great way with creativity and courage. The teachers’ feedback for this first project week was very enthusiastic, affirmative and positive. The evaluation showed that all the participants of this experiment were very fond of it: nobody had thought that we would achieve such beautiful results within a very short time period. Teachers and students became more self-conscious through this pedagogical experience, which was encouraging for all of us to continue. Since then we are running one project week in every Academic Year; and we are going to conduct two starting in the Academic Year 2017/18.
Within the years after 2009 we conducted Project weeks with a variety of topics, most of them nature related as a main focus of our pedagogy is the well-being of Mother Earth. Here are the topics:
All our project weeks have a similar structure. Meanwhile students of all classes are cooperating in age mixed groups which is very much enjoyed by them; the direct contact between elder and younger students is inspiring and motivating. Teachers and other employees are leading the groups, each led by two members. The groups receive names and special tasks (for example taking photos, building models, creating and singing songs and other activities). Two days will be reserved for practical activities. On one day a rally through Mudigubba will take place to aware the public people for our topic. On the last day of every project week an exhibition will be arranged. Our recent exhibitions have been visited by thousands of visitors. Afterwards an evaluation will be done by students and teachers, very important to reflect the results.
Apart from the project weeks, we organize one project day every month (Nature Day). As well we changed the structure of our daily life to enable the students to cope with other topics than the so called normal subjects. Only one teacher will stay the whole morning in the class, he/she will teach the normal topics (English, Hindi, Telugu, Mathematics, Science) for a double period; other activities like creativity, painting, handworks, Computer work, sports, Karate, gardening, dancing, music and drama as well as meditation, Yoga and Bhajana singing) are handled in the second double period. This time structure aims to provide a project-friendly teaching style, even in normal everyday life.
On 8th March 2017 a rain ceremony was arranged in the Medicine wheel (located between Guest house and LKG class room). As the temperatures are crossing 40 degrees and the drought is increasing we felt that it might be useful to celebrate once again a rain ritual inspired by Red Indian culture. Within the last few years we had several rain ceremonies and several times rain coming afterwards. So we hoped this time it would also happen…
All the students, teachers and staff members gathered around the Medicine wheel. Our musician Horst Wagner explained that for the Red Indian people special Gods were responsible for rain. After reciting of the Gayatri mantram 9 times we sang three songs (“We are opening up in sweet surrender to the luminous love light of the One…”, “Mother I feel you under my feet…”, “Goate leno leno maote…”). There was a high energy on the area created by singing, clapping the hands and marching around the circle. At the end of the ceremony a big cloud was visible on top of our heads...
After the ritual we planted three holy trees on the premises. More than 3000 trees have been planted within the last seven years. It is a challenge to water all of them regularly... As our bore wells do not deliver sufficient water we have to fetch water from a nearby bore well rented to us. Every day three to four tractor loads are needed... But we are acting as the German reformer Martin Luther (1483 – 1546, professor of theology, composer, priest, monk and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation) recommended: "If tomorrow the world would collapse today you should still plant a tree...." We believe that the only option to improve climate for India and the whole world is to plant more trees. By the way: the rain took 6 days to come down after our rain ceremony…. But as soon as I started to write this blog it started raining (first time since three weeks) !!!!