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Inclusion of a Holistic Curriculum at an early stage for Students

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

By Meeta Sharma, Principal, Vijaybhoomi International School

Vijaybhoomi International School (VIS) is set in Jamrung, Karjat, Maharashtra in 18 acres of idyllic natural beauty. The School setting is unique and second to none. Surrounded by hills on three sides with a sublime valley in the west, it is a testament of its love for the elements of nature, inculcating the same in its students. The space has been designed to ensure holistic development for one and all helping the youngsters to enquire, equip, endeavor, empower and adapt to change, which is the only constant in life.

VIS is an initiative of two visionaries, leading two world-class institutions, with latest pedagogies of holistic and happy learning. Sanjay Padode, leads the IFIM, Bengaluru and Jaspal Sidhu leads the SGS-SIS network of International Schools.The Primary school will follow the Singaporean Curriculum, the Secondary school will be affiliated to Cambridge ICE/IGCSE and the High school will be affiliated to the International Baccalaureate DiplomaProgram (IBDP).

Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at New Castle, England, says, “The role of the teacher in the immediate future will change from the emphasis on providing facts to an emphasis on how to find the facts accurately”. This can only be achieved by preparing a child with a holistic view point of education. VIS takes pride in the inclusion of the carefully conceived holistic education approach for all age groups especially the young children. It believes that each child must find identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the immediate community, to the wide natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace.  What sets VIS apart is the holistic approach in its attention to experiential learning, and the significance placed on relationships and primary human values within the eco friendly learning environment that encourages growth and learning by inspiring unconventional thinking.            

Through this approach to education, VIS advocates the skills needed for the 21st century through the PACE initiative, where P-Perseverance, A – Analytical Thinking,C- Communication and Collaboration,E – Entrepreneurship come together and seek to help the children learn about themselves. This involves learning self-respect and self-esteem. Children are taught to appreciate relationships. In learning about their relationships with others, there is a focus on social "literacy” and emotional "literacy". Care is taken to provide opportunities to develop resilience. This entails overcoming difficulties, facing challenges and learning how to ensure long-term success. Further, love for aesthetics is encouraged in order to appreciate the beauty all around us in life.

Be it the formal setting of a class room, the world class sports facilities or the informal settings of residential life at VIS, the methodology adopted is transformative approach to learning.  This involves a change in the frames of reference that a child encounters rather than just imparting instructions and sharing information. This results in a desired change in points of view, habits of mind, and world views. Knowledge is constructed by the context in which a child lives in school and home. Therefore, students learn how to know or understand information which is essential at all times.The strong effects of the above approach are evident in the social transformation of thinking critically and reasoning ethically while caring about the world the child lives in.The impressionable young minds start making connections by seeing the various aspects of life and in due course of time begin living as integrated and connected individuals, reflecting upon the interdependencies between their world and themselves. Trans-disciplinary inquiry puts VIS in an all-together different league. It helps the children eliminate the division between disciplines by filling the in-between space with the possibility of new perspectives 'beyond' disciplines.In finding inherent meaning in the process of learning and coming to understand how they learn, students are able to thus self-regulate their own learning and budget time efficiently.

The holistic approach at VIS nurtures a commitment to compassion, respect and well-being which it strongly believes is an antidote to the sense of entitlement, anxiety and lack of connection that dominate the day-to-day lives of so many teenagers. The School takes the responsibility to seriously seek out what is exceptional in each of the students, because at VIS, we believe that life is a sum total of all experiences which will prepare the students for an all-round education built on the foundation of Academics, Adventure, Sports, Creative Arts and Service. In order to prepare students to enter a competitive and interconnected world, VIS is committed to building their capacity to collaborate, take intellectual risks and convert their ideas and passions into something original and valuable.

Global and local communities form an integral aspect of education at VIS. As relationships and learning about relationships are keys to understanding ourselves, integrating with the community is vital in the learning process. The concept of internationalism as mentioned in the Vedic text, Hitopadesha:
“Udāracharitānāmtuvasudhaivakutumbakam”, namely, “For the noble hearts, the entire earth is but one family”, is considered an integral part of Indian Philosophy. At VIS, this statement is not just about peace and harmony among the societies in the world, but also about a truth that somehow the whole world has to live by some rules like in a family. Collaboration in Projects between schools situated in different parts of the world and international exchanges with the partner SIS- SGS chain of 15 Schools will help the students to embrace, experience, understand and honor the commonalties of histories, experiences, and perspectives among global peers as opportunities to understand the world in new ways and to understand that diversity brings positive strengths and insights to our human experiences.  This will lead to the understanding and respect for varied cultures and ethos to make this world a better place to live in and that differences of ideas, experiences and perspectives exist and can be mutually accepted and sustained side by side. This echoes Swami Vivekananda’s saying that, “All difference in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything”.

At VIS, there is a strong belief that parents are more than equal stake holders/partners towards every child’s holistic learning. It is their primary responsibility to bring up the child.  The School understands the responsibility to facilitate the development of the child to be a good citizen and ignite the child’s passion and mind to discover a sustainable vocation that is completely aligned with the child’s aptitude. Hence with the active support and help of the parents, it will endeavor to create a readiness in students, to engage with and contribute to any community that they may find themselves in!

In the words of Arthur Foot, the first headmaster of The Doon School, “Our boys will join an aristocracy, but it’s an aristocracy of service, not one of wealth, privilege or position.”

Holistic education at VIS is the key to those pertinent words.

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