Session 1 | Philosophy : Education beyond conventional classrooms

Speakers: Vidhi Jain, S Gopalan, Ajay Kumar Singh, Gitanjali JB

India's existing educational system was introduced in the mid-nineteenth century, replacing almost entirely the indigenous educational frameworks of gurukuls, madrasas and other pre-existing models of education. But over the past few decades, new models of education have emerged that critique the mainstream 'factory-model' and provide alternative systems that enable each child to learn in a manner best suited to their innate abilities. These alternative models of education move away from the 'rote learning' and process-driven approach, instead focusing on student driven learning mechanisms and application-centric pedagogies. By addressing the various gaps in the conventional schooling system and by providing sound alternatives that cater to the needs of different children, these alternative education models have managed to find greater acceptance amongst parents and educationists alike. With this in focus, the inaugural panel of SCNC 2018 seeks to examine the drawbacks of conventional schooling system, and understand the theoretical frameworks surrounding different models of alternative education.

Dr Neeraja Raghavan

Neeraja Raghavan is the Founder-Director of ThinkingTeacher and co-author of the book 'Alternative Schooling in India'. She has a doctorate degree in Chemistry from Princeton University, USA and her last position was Professor at Azim Premji University. She worked with Azim Premji Foundation mainly in the field of Science teacher education, pedagogy and curriculum development. She has taught in several mainstream as well as alternative schools, serving as the principal of multiple schools. She developed an Alternative Middle School Science Curriculum for SHIKSHAMITRA Kolkata, a school for slum children in 2007. She also developed the Middle School Science Curriculum for THE SCHOOL, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Chennai in March-May 2006, so as to suit their unique needs and ethos. Her research interests currently focus on teacher development through reflective practice.

Vidhi Jain

Vidhi is a co-founder of Shikshantar- a life movement based in Udaipur. Shikshantar is dedicated to co-creating new visions of education and rethinking mainstream development. She works on the Udaipur as a Learning City process-project for the past twenty years. She works with the Families Learning Together and Unschooling initiatives, as well as on community media and expressions in Udaipur as a Learning City. Vidhi and her husband Manish are unschooling their daughter Kanku. Before co-founding Shikshantar, Vidhi spent two years working for Lok Jumbish, a grassroots project in Rajasthan. In this capacity, she designed and ran a program in rural villages to raise awareness and design inclusive schooling services for children with special needs.

S Gopalan

A graduate in science and a Chartered Accountant, S Gopalan initially worked in industry as a Financial Controller.

It was his fortune to come into contact with J Krishnamurti in 1980 and in 1982, he and his wife moved to The Valley School of Krishnamurti Foundation India as teachers and parents in the school. Since then, he has been a teacher, principal and director at different schools of Krishnamurti Foundation India. After over three decades of sustained search, attempts and trials for ways of individualised learning that is holistic and considers every student to be a bud waiting to bloom into the unique flower that he / she is meant to be, Gopalan now shares his journey with others on the same quest.

Ajay Kumar Singh

Prof Ajay Kumar Singh is currently with the Centre for Education Innovation and Action Research-Tata Institute for Social Sciences(CEIAR-TISS) implementation team of the Connected Learning Initiative(CLIx), a technology-enabled initiative at scale for high school students. CLIx offers a scalable and sustainable model of open education, to meet the educational needs of students and teachers. As part of the CEIAR-TISS implementation team, Prof Singh works closely with the state implementation partners and the government agencies involved.

Gitanjali JB

As the Founding Member and Head of Academics, GItanjali JB is helping the creation of Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL), an ambitious project aiming to bring a revolution in higher education in India.

An entrepreneur turned educator, Gitanjali is passionate about creating an environment that empowers learners and facilitators to become the best versions of themselves. Gifted in multiple disciplines such as business, education, and performing arts, she believes that human beings can continue to grow into multi-faceted individuals throughout their lives, and the aim of education is to instil this lifelong quest for learning.