People of Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival: Hamida Khatoon, rising filmmakerCulture & Education | April 11, 2014
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The Indian school system is well known for its adherence to rote-learning techniques and an exam-based system. This might produce teenagers who can rapidly compute startlingly large sums in their head – but it does not encourage an “innovation society.” Standardized textbooks do not provide room for students to ask “why,” and creative expression often takes a back seat to recitation. In any context, the Adianta School would be novel, but in India, it is nothing short of revolutionary.
The Adianta School for Leadership, located in New Delhi, has designed its curriculum around the three pillars: Innovate, Build, Lead. Each pillar is divided into three categories, creating a 9-unit grid that integrates theory and practicality. The structure of the classes grew organically out of Dr. Sood’s experience with his consulting company, and the immediate, on-the-job training given to new recruits. In these classes, students not only learn the basics of business – how to conduct market research or implement growth strategies – they are immediately exposed to the lifestyle of an entrepreneur through project-based learning. The idea is not to eliminate lectures and seminars, but to drastically reduce the amount of time students spend listening, and increase the amount of time they spend doing.
Students might find themselves tasked with reconstructing the Profit and Loss statement of a street entrepreneur in the informal market. They must speak with these individuals, learn where they sources materials come from, piece out their daily revenue, and work with them to construct this statement. In another class, students compete in teams as potential start-ups and venture capitalists, learning not only the specifics of these fields, but negotiation, as well. Students will also learn the necessity of innovation through ethnographic projects that require them to visit another section of society – rural villages and urban slums – and design, create, and test different prototypes to improve conditions in these areas.
Such projects force students to learn intangible (and crucial) skills such as time management and delegation. Teamwork and competitive cooperation are important learning tools; teachers are not “repositories of knowledge”, they are facilitators and mentors.
Conferences and internships are integrated into the curriculum and provide practical forums to present what they’ve learned and apply it. Adianta has built relationships with companies to ensure its students are able to transfer their classroom experience to the real world.
What is left to be seen is how Adianta can change the tone for education in India at large. For too long education has been thought of as something that happens to us, not something with which we can engage, alter, or experiment, and Adianta offers a new paradigm for learning. In a country with such steep inequalities in education, however, where so few children actually make it to college and beyond, the Adianta model needs to permeate throughout the system. As a formalized postgraduate program, the benefits of this innovative and groundbreaking approach will be enjoyed by a privileged few. It is absolutely crucial, however, for India to adopt these lessons and to regard creativity and innovation as important aspects of an education. Without this shift, India’s youth will not be able to compete with rapidly-changing, technology based markets, or the global entrepreneurs who drive them.
About the Author:
Originally from Boston, Alisha relocated to Mumbai after college to follow her passion for education and work for an NGO in the city. A graduate of Northwestern University, she holds a Bachelors of Science in Social Policy and Creative Writing. Although she loves Mumbai in all of its chaos, she is excited to be leaving soon to pursue a Masters from the London School of Economics.
The views expressed above are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of the views of the Mahindra Group.
Premlata Poonia grew up among big dreams. Her father was an educator at a government school who dreamt of transforming rural India through education. He insisted that she receive the best education available. But as part of a farming family with deep rural roots, that education did not come without sacrifice.
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