INT’L SCHOOL KASHMIR FORAYS INTO CITY
SCHOOLING BEYOND BLACKBOARD
ARIF SHAFI WANI
WHEN Satria Farah Amina Candoa, an educationist from Philippines visited Kashmir in 2004, she was “shocked to see children huddled in classrooms of pre-schools and given lectures like high school students, by stick brandishing teachers”.
Satria decided “then and there” to change this “primitive education method” and disseminate child-centric education through playful methods. She received a shot in the arm when her husband, Zeeshan Pandit supported her cause of bringing reforms in Kashmir’s education sector.
Having left Kashmir at the tender age of 11, Zeeshan was educated in Philippines and represented financial institutions in New York and Manila besides working with NGO advocating for environment and human rights. However, he left all the lucrative posts and returned to his homeland for “serving” the people.
Starting with Little Wonders—a preschool component of their dream project in 2005—Zeeshan and Satria have “crossed many barriers” to attain first step towards their “cherished goal”. In the first phase, they have successfully set up International School of Kashmir upto 2nd standard at Baghat Barzulla.
“ISK is totally different from other schools. We are the first to provide Montessori-style classrooms. In simpler terms we adapt to level of children,” says Satria who is the ISK’s Learning Programme Director.
She said that at ISK, the children, teacher, materials, and even the classroom environment itself work as a unit as in Vygotsky’s terminology, the More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) in a non-threatening environment known as “collaborative learning”.
ISK’s Managing Director Zeeshan stresses that ISK is designed to provide continuity to the research-based educational methods that have been implemented successfully for the past six years in Little Wonders.
INNOVATIVE TEACHING METHODS
ISK does away with backward methods such as rote repetition or memorization of words. “We lay emphasis on Concept and Skills Development and Exploration via hands-on activities,” Satria said.
“We have a unique method called as Phonics Method which is taught according to the Montessori Phonics Series or Levels. We use authentic Montessori materials that makes the child use of different sense organs. By this method the children learn best when two or more senses are activated,” she said.
The other methods, technique techniques used by the school include 3-Stage Lesson also called the 3-Period Lesson, individual sessions, record keeping of individual sessions. Besides, the school also employs Independent Learning Tasks which are based on the Montessori Principle of “Child as Teacher of Himself”.
“Our classroom and furniture are Montessori-inspired to make the Montessori Method succeed or happen as it should. Many of our materials are imported authentic wooden Montessori materials. Other materials are Montessori-inspired. Some materials are original designs of Teacher Satria,” Zeeshan said while pointing towards some attractive books and charts.
The ISK prepares a detailed weekly learning program for each class. “Activities are planned following the principle of Multiple Intelligences to make sure that we tap into the different intelligences of each learner’s brains,” Zeeshan says.
“Teachers must achieve a cooperative or collaborative relationship with the student instead of taking upon the traditional authoritarian or dictatorial role which traditional untrained teachers usually prefer,” he adds.
Sataria says that the students are assigned homework which they can complete independently or with very little help from the parents.
“It is a common practice in schools to give most of the content of the syllabus as winter homework. We think that this practice should be abolished. Many lessons and crucial concepts must be taught in the proper methods, many of which are unfamiliar to parents or tutors at home,” she said.
Arshad Hussain a parent whose kids study at ISK says he is more than satisfied with its education system. “At ISK, the curriculum has been formulated in such a way that the children learn through playful methods and get motherly care as well,” he says.
Teacher Satria has been an early achiever. She learned how to read of her own even before going to school that too without a tutor. She has been recommended to be double-promoted from 1st standard to 3rd standard and again, when she was to enter 6th standard straight to 8th standard. However, her parents chose the regular class promotions as they believed that she will develop ‘emotional intelligence’ by going through the regular class promotions and not by being promoted to higher classes too fast.
When she was only nine years old, she participated in a Philippine-Japanese Student Peace Leadership Exchange Program. From then on, she became an active member of Children and Peace, Philippines an organization that worked for children empowerment. She became passionate about children, peace, education, and social reform. In her high school years, she was also active in environmental issues. Leading her environment club, she transformed her school into an eco-friendly school where plastics were banned and waste was segregated. She even mobilized five other schools to collect waste paper and send it to the recycling factory.
After graduating Valedictorian in High School at fifteen, she attended the Children First Global Forum in Atlanta, Georgia USA whose keynote speaker was Hillary Clinton. Satria also became one of the speakers in the Youth Panel of the Commission on Sustainable IV held in the United Nations Headquarter, New York. She has organized peace, education and children empowerment workshops in several provinces across the Philippines.
In the University of Philippines, at 17, she was elected Top Councilor of the University Student Council. She represented Philippines in the Global Conference on Religious Response to Climate Change held in Bangalore.
She has worked with various international schools in Manila.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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