As you progress in life, one of the important anxieties of life is about your child’s education. Are you preparing them for the future? Will they be ready to be a global citizen? Will they learn how to learn? Will they know how to deal with the challenges? What is the right mix between academic rigour and extra-curricular activities?
So many questions…The funny thing is that none of these questions may have mattered when we had gone to school. Yet we have so many questions. Are we doing analysis paralysis? Are we overdoing this?
School is one part of the equation but a very important part. Because school is the child’s first external environment after the home unit. School environment can determine and influence our children beyond our imagination.
As parents of two children, me and my wife were clear about a few things while we are selecting our school. Education is important but we did not want to rob the childhood of our kids. Academic rigour and discipline are pre-requisite for a good citizen and strong civic sense is the first religion. But we want our kids to also have time for life activities and no-activity times. We have seen many kids having a schedule that can put a leading consultant to shame – whole life is going to be driven by Outlook Calendars – so why create stress from early days? Knowing Mozart is fine but let our kids also enjoy the music of Mozart of Madras. Knowing Picasso is fine but let them also create doodles on home walls! The only important things are quality of education, discipline, extra-curricular and co-curricular balance, ethics and values driven learning.
Sometimes life rewards you more than you wish for. Our joy knew no bounds when we discovered Eklavya. It checked all our boxes and it went beyond. We got the admission after waiting for some time and we were very happy. You can read our Eklavya Experience at my earlier blog: The Eklavya Evangelist.
Life was good and my child was enjoying the school life. But life surprises you. At a very short notice, we had to move to a European country and we had to uproot our lives here. It was one of the best education exercise of life. We were taken out of our comfort zones and our autopilot lives were re-programmed. This is the benefit of moving to new place as Subroto Bagchi explained to me during our EDI interactions.
My child was admitted to one of the most wonderful schools – which had children from more than 50 countries and different backgrounds. His best friends were from different continents and it truly broadened his outlook. The teachers were very good and some of the pedagogic approaches were impressive indeed. But somehow all of us missed Eklavya. He would tell his teachers and principal stories of his school (Eklavya) – forgetting that Eklavya was his ex-school.
Time passed and I was at nearing the end of our stint and we had to decide on the next steps. My son was very clear about what was to be done. He wanted to go back to Eklavya. Not that we needed any strong convincing! My family decided to move earlier than me. This decision would have manifold implications and we would need to plan for it. We would need additional support from our families, employer organization and Eklavya as well. And all these people helped me immensely and I am grateful to them.
Eklavya Team was very supportive. Principal Madam gave us helpful inputs and Administrative Team was super-efficient. Even in our absence, they made sure that we got the personal touch and advice. Once we landed, teachers took personal interest to ensure my son could catch-up with his peers in certain subjects. It is so special to see class teacher taking more efforts than you to ensure that your child is getting ahead and giving his best – It speaks highly of the individual teacher and her values and greatness – but it is an example of the great organization and ethos created by the founder. Once our son was struggling to get certain act right and the pain of that was on class teacher’s face. That moment is strongly sketched in our minds as a rare example of care and genuine interest in the student’s progress. Right from Principal to support staff, everyone says – My children. Contrast this to a philosophy were students are customers and parents are financiers! During regular school interactions, every teacher has inputs which are specific to your child and they you the same with anecdotes and action steps – this is very high level of engagement and involvement.
We recently had an interaction with the founder Shri Sunil Handa. He explained that the philosophy was to prepare the children for the future – where they can excel and achieve their true potential. How they can confidently say – I do not know but I am willing to learn and succeed. How they can fail and learn to get up and give another shot till they succeed. The emphasis at Eklavya is to understand the basics and concepts and apply it in own way to real life. The emphasis is also on being an individual with strong civic sense.
He advised parents to give as much exposure as possible to the children. Watch movies, play sports, meet people from all backgrounds, do all crazy things – but spend time together. He warned parents from giving a sheltered and protected environment – it harms the child. The analogy was – Do not a Dettol mother – sanitizing everything around. Eklavya philosophy would say – Do not stay away from cow-dung. Smell it. Check dry cow-dung. See how it burns. Etc Etc.
The Eklavya School is following principles similar to the Growth Mindset. In her book ‘Mindset’ author Carol Dweck suggests that our mindset makes a great impact on how we live our life. It determines what kind of a person we become. Many people believe they are super talented and talent alone creates success. There is not much effort required and their intelligence and talent is fixed. This is fixed mindset and it is not a great model. In contrast, people with growth mindset believe that most of their abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. Talent is a good addition but learning and resilience are key ingredients of success. A growth mindset person thrives on challenges and sees failure as an inspiration for growth and developing existing abilities. All great achievers have had growth mindset.
The practices and principles followed at Eklavya are very similar to the leading Finnish schools and outstanding schools in Britain. However, I would say that Eklavya is in a class of its own. It has its unique values, character and academic approach. The most important part is that everyone at Eklavya lives and executes this uniqueness every day thereby creating a great model of excellence and culture. And the credit goes to the entire Eklavya team from founder Shri Sunil Handa, Principal, Teachers, Administrative Teams, Support Staff and everyone. And as a student of management, it is a very fascinating case study for me. Because Drucker had said – Culture eats strategy for breakfast everyday!
Image Credit: Diana Robinson
Related Reading: The Eklavya Evangelist