Shanti Ananda English Medium Upper Primary School
In the last weeks we went further steps into the direction „Nature School“. What is meant by “Nature School” (some people prefer the definition “Nature Concept School”)? We are thinking of a school with buildings built according to ecological criteria as far as possible and the school area consisting of garden, agricultural space and – eventually - permaculture area besides the play ground. A “Nature School” should create the teachings close to nature and as well in a practical way. The practical daily teaching routine of the school has a top priority in the next years.
Teacher M. Saraswathi with landscape painted as result of a fantasy journey
in the teacher training – our future school area?
The Teacher Training in this year 2009 took place in the temple room of the school from September 18th till 23rd. The focus was “Nature School” by and large. The main program points were – besides the drawing-up of a catalogue of our material collection – the preparation of the project week and the differentiated planning of our Nature School. Four detailed charts were prepared in group work (administration which means buildings, garden, agricultural space and playground). These plans will be the fundament for the architect as the next step. But in moment we are still looking for a suitable piece of land. The size should be at least 4 acres; ground water should be available in an accessible depth, the quality of the soil should favour gardening and agriculture. The background noise should be as natural as possible (a precious rarity in the loud India), and of course the price has to be reasonable – these many criteria have to be respected…
Teacher Zahrunnisha explains the results of the „Nature School Group“
on the planning paper „Administration“ (on the left teacher Anasuya)
Every day of our project week from October 12th till 16th had a special theme:
On the first day all our students went to excursions to collect inspirations towards the planned Nature School and to experience nature. (These excursions were the very first for our students!) The elder students and four teachers drove to two Nature Schools of the Timbaktu Collective (www.timbaktu.org) in 60 km distance. In the first Nature School they explored the terrain with four groups and gave reports of their impressions after. In the second Nature School where a Children’s’ Centre is integrated (Children from school and village can read books in a library and learn computer, stitching and handicrafts) students from our school and the Nature School performed a cultural program with songs, dances and other highlights. The day trippers spent the lunch break in a very beautiful temple area nearby.
The Diamond Hall is a most interesting and fascinating
multi purpose hall built in a simple eco style
The younger children went with five teachers and some parents to a nearby temple by passing the new railway area and had lots of possibilities for some exciting nature experiences.
On the second project day teachers, helpers and children laid out a compost pit near the school; it was inaugurated with natural waste materials collected by the students near the school (paper, dry plants, sticks etc.). Earth worms were shifted to the compost pit, and a plan for regular watering was made. The organic waste materials collected daily by cleaning the area around the school in the morning are taken to this place. (The digging of a compost pit is part of the subject „Environmental Science“). Furthermore some seeds were put into the soil in some containers, the out coming plants have to be planted into the soil around the school later. (Normally we are not allowed to use the railway area around the school, but the teachers think that we can arrange some plantations if we erect a temporary fence of thorns. Finally the compost gained strenuously should not be wasted…)
Opening of the Compost Pit – after six to eight weeks
the compost should be completed
On the third day houses were the focus; many different types of houses – mostly of nature materials – were built; the children could fully live out their fantasy by creating the buildings…
A group of boys presents a house creation
On the fourth day all the activities rotated around “the sun”; self made rhymes as well as a small theatre play and a role game of the planet system were developed and trained.
Animals and human beings are dependent on light and warmth
of the sun (visible in the background)…
On the fifth and last day the results of the project week were presented; parents and press reporters had been invited and looked at exhibition and performances. The elder students explained the exhibits to the visitors and convinced through differentiated knowledge.
Two students explain the plantations to a press reporter
Concerning the evaluation of the project week there were different resonances. Altogether all the teachers were satisfied; but some of them would have liked more time for the single steps – the speed had been very fast… The teaching team agreed that they want to perform another project week as soon as possible – they observe that the students learn a lot within a very short period of time… Meanwhile “our” parents accepted the teaching method of a project week fully and are proud of our innovative school.
Press report of the project week
On the monthly one day teacher training on September 12th we discussed whether and how much we have to teach according to the State Syllabus (of Andhra Pradesh). Our teacher trainer Mohan Babu – well informed as a member of the school book commission in – explained to us that 25 – 30% is fully sufficient. We can decide furthermore whether we want to perform examinations and which type of evaluation we like most. We should not deviate too much from the syllabus to avoid difficulties for the children when they change to another school – but in the practise we have a lot of freedom and space for new ways and methods. We plan for the next years to examine each and every lesson in every subject whether it is useful. Practise and theory have to be combined and integrated with each others as far as possible. One necessity for the path of more practise are corresponding materials the children can collect experiences with – medium-term we need more of those materials. The Montessori education is a good example; the children in these schools learn mainly with the help of teaching/learning materials.
On October 29th we received the State Recognition officially!
Headmaster Chandra Mohan shows the recognition document
to School Advisor Manjunath Reddy
Professions of the fathers of our students: 64% coolies,
26% farmers; 10% drivers, small business people and washer men
Last not least I want to give two links worth to be looked at:
www.myspace.com/premaeol (the Internet presence of the musician Klaus Chmiel who led a nice Bhajan Workshop in the School on August 21st already the second time) and
www.forestle.org (a new searching machine you can save rain forest with)!
Teacher Jayalakshmi with the 3rd class preparing a salad
Many cordial 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