Welcome at our Nature School!“ these children seem to say. They built a hut beside the school corresponding with our designated nature school concerning some criteria: it is made of nature materials with regard of the local circumstances and in cooperation of all the participants; they used waste or recycling materials for a careful treatment of mother earth. „Our“ children simply took everything available for them. And they are totally happy with the result – the main thing…
In our first project week in the history of the school (February 2nd till February 7th) we concentrated on the subject „Nature school“. The first of the two project groups planned to paint the walls of the class rooms; the second project group built a model of the aspired nature school. For all the participants the project week was a novelty. So the teachers first felt somehow hesitant and insecure. The elder students observed and helped the teachers - for example cleaning the brushes - before they received the permission to do the same work like the teachers.
A. Saraswathi und Jayalakshmi dare to paint the first lines.
After a short time already the results of the work convinced the participants; and their self confidence increased. The painting group completed the first wall after some hours only. The design on top of the flowers gave the impulse to paint a design around all the black boards; as an eye catcher it is guiding through the school building.
Flowers characterize the first painted wall in the school.
Beside of these activities sculptures of clay (directly beside the school some clay is present) were molded, seeds were sprouted, model buildings of recycling materials and “real” buildings of bricks were manufactured. These additional activities were planned especially for the younger students who could not take part in the activities of the two project groups.
Children peeling off and arranging seeds
Art works and items full of phantasy were created in group work of unusual structures; limits between elder and younger students, teachers and students became undermined.
Models of cigarette packages and plastic bottles are designed...
An exhibition of clay sculptures made by the small children shows items like bullock carts, money boxes, Shiva lingams, people sitting on chairs, mortars, a room without roof (for seeing the sky more clearly) and an elephant. I asked the children what they planned to do with their money if they were rich because they had made so many money boxes. The answers touched me very much: 9 of 10 children wanted to give their money for welfare activities (give support to blind people, build a hospital, help the poor people); only one boy answered that he wanted to buy a motor bike if he were rich.
Clay sculpture exhibition of the younger students
On the first day all the teachers started the project week in a shy way; but at the end of the week everybody was satisfied. Nobody had believed that we could admire these beautiful results. The self confidence of the colleagues increased; they were able to do more and better they had believed before. The development of the children was similar. At the beginning only the elder students took part actively in the project groups; at the end of the week many younger students participated in the project group activities. The first paintings were done by the teachers only; at the end of the week many children’s paintings joined. Like this the school became
able to integrate this new form of teaching offered by the project week. Up to this moment nobody had been able to say what a project is and what the use of it is…
Miracolous flower collages were created in the project week
Because some bricks were present (caused by the building measures for the expanding of the class rooms) the children could use them for their buildings. On the next photo we can see a typical Indian example; the Indian people draw spiritual symbols onto the house entrance before shifting; like this the house is dedicated and energetically enhanced.
Brick buildings with chalk symbols
However the parents of our students seem to need some educational work because at the end of the week fewer children came to the school. It is possible that the parents think that their children do not learn enough during this project week compared to the normal daily school life. The teachers in fact are very fond of the project week; and they easily will convince the parents of the advantages of a project week. Possibly we will convene a parents’ meeting especially with this subject...
Model of the Nature school with uncompleted garden and playground
In the teacher training for the preparation of the project week the colleagues had talks with potential donors and drew pictures with their left hands. (Painting with the left hand enhances the approach to the creativity because the left hand is connected with the right half of the brain - responsible for intuition and holistic procedures). This “imposition” already raised a lot of creativity. Most of the teachers before thought themselves not to be able to draw and paint; their results convinced them of the opposite.
The results of the paintings show a strong connection with nature
And what is the purpose of a project week? Primarily the children are able to observe and to understand concrete holistic sequences of work or processes. Of course they can do this as well in the creativity lessons in the afternoons; but in the project week the opportunities are more extensive and deeper as well. The children have the chance to collect completely new experiences. The limits of the classes are dissolved; more contacts with children from other classes are possible. Students and teachers come out of their normal daily structure; because of this they are more open and ready to let something new and unusual into their world. Because of the concentration on few subjects and activities the learned stuff becomes much deeper. All the participants told that they would never forget this project week – lifelong. Who can tell of a normal school lesson like this ?
Conclusion circle with the results of the model group
Anyway – like this we feel our momentary situation – we are in the approach corridor for our Nature School. Although we don’t know yet who will give the money for the land we act according to the slogan: „We can achieve the wished result through our concentration and surrender. We act as if it is already present.“
With sincere greetings from South India,
Helga Shanti Fründt
Foreigners should give their donation to this FCRA account
Shanti Ananda Education Society
Andhra Bank, Mudigubba Branch
Account No: 185410100007532
Indian persons should give their donation to the
Shanti Ananda Education Society
Geetha Nagar, Mudigubba 515511
Andhra Pragathi Grameena Bank
Account No. 19073080607