Archive for August, 2017

Truly Natural Learning

Learning from the land and learning through one’s interactions with nature can feel idyllic for many city folks. At RDF schools, we feel truly blessed that children still have access to open land, farms, rich nature and her biodiversity! They learn so much through the natural resources around them.

We have written several times about the organic kitchen gardens in each RDF school, which are tended to with great care and love by RDF staff and students. These gardens, affectionately called the ‘Vegetable Farm House’ in Rollakal School, are also a wonderful learning resource for the young ones in pre-primary.  These little ones are eager to get busy in the Vegetable Farm House and they do not even wait to be ‘taught’! First, they happily plucked the ripe vegetables diligently and carefully, amazing us with their instinctive ability to be careful with the harvesting. Then they wanted to count the harvested vegetables, leading to an effortless lesson in ‘addition’. Thereafter, the teacher asked them, “How many are not good?” This led to a meticulous removal of the ones not fit for consumption and another lesson in ‘subtraction’ as well as segregating good produce from bad through working with their sense – maths, science and social science all rolled into one!!

These are activities that RDF school teachers are very proud of.  Not only does this make concepts very easy to understand, it also helps the children bond with the world around them, making it very real and contextual.

Studies in Self Exploration

The race for academic excellence and confining student ability to a marks oriented approach has been receiving a lot of flak for several years now.  Time and again, it has been shown that this puts a lot of stress on students and limits their accomplishments to academic outcomes alone. Thankfully, RDF schools understood early on that there is another approach to learning, one in which there is less emphasis on rote memorization and more on learning through various activities that engage all our senses, including appreciating that each child is  unique. We realized that learning happens best when students are engaged and having fun, rather than passively mugging up texts.

The proud actors at Synchrony Financial HQ

Redlawada School students participated in 2 interesting projects recently. Students of Class 9 & 10 were invited by Synchrony Financial, a global MNC that has been instrumental in funding and setting up English Language labs and providing Life Skills training for RDF children. They were invited for a theatrical experience by putting up a play of their choice. Agog with excitement, the children took the historical route, adapting the mega successful ‘Bahubali’ for their play! Right from collaborating on the concept, adapting it as a play, dialogue writing, selection of characters and rehearsals were managed by the children on their own, displaying a vast range of personal and lifeskills. The performance was heartfelt and won the appreciation of the Synchrony Financial team. The passion of the children really shone through, for all to see!

Back in school, another creative Mathematics project was taking shape. Middle school students got themselves into a happy knot (pun intended), taking out their scissors and measuring tapes for a hands on lesson in ‘Measurement’. Going beyond the conventional measuring lessons with boring rulers, kids were given free reign to measure anything that interested them – leading to a far more energetic and delightful class! For a subject that gives many students the jitters, it is amazing to see how injecting freedom, creativity and inspiration can take this (in)famous subject from fearsome to awesome!

Isn’t this equipping them with a sense of exploring their own talents, skills and interests very crucial to navigating today’s world? Isn’t this far more conducive to learning and giving them a sense of self – esteem, confidence and accomplishment?

Gratitude for Alumni

RDF’s alumni are its biggest champions! There is no greater credit to RDF’s philosophy and vision to educate, engage and empower poor, underprivileged rural children than when school alumni are able to follow their dreams and goals to a financially sound future and come back to pass on their learning and experience to children in our schools.

Praveen, an alumnus of RDF Matendla School, visited the school for a project to fully understand the challenges of rural education and running a school in a remote area. Currently pursuing an MBA, he spent the day talking to his former teachers about his life as an MBA student, excited to continue his learning journey, the bedrock having been provided during his formative years in the school. He deeply appreciated all the resources that were made available by RDF in such a remote and rural village as he firmly believes that these amenities and quality of teaching gave him an advantage in his higher learning.

He sat in on lessons with students from various classes and spoke to them about his experiences. He motivated them to work hard with all the resources being provided by the school in order to achieve their goals. He patiently answered all their queries about colleges, career and job skills required in today’s world.

We deeply appreciate that former students take on a level of social responsibility at such a young age in order to encourage their local community children.Despite their own challenges, they selflessly give their time, effort, skills and even financial support. We are proud of our truly empowered alumni who do not forget their roots and the bonds created with all our students that make them come back in order to encourage and inspire these young and hopeful children who dream of a life free from poverty.

Of Richness in Spirit and Biodiversity

This planet, that we call our Mother, needs a lot of effort and help from her citizens. Every little bit counts as popularized by the saying, “A million drops make the ocean”. We feel a sense of pride when we see RDF’s underprivileged children; living in remote and rural areas, take up the cause to help our planet. Their generosity of time and spirit makes us feel hopeful that the future is in capable hands.

The conscientious students of the RDF VAPV Junior College have been working very hard at keeping their campus green. Concerned about the diminishing green cover and the effect that this has on the biodiversity of a region, the students and staff have planted nearly 116 different types of fruit trees over the years. These trees and plants not only bring glorious colour and a vibrant feel to the campus, but the trees laden with fruit and berries are a magnet for an ever increasing variety of birds, insects and ground animals are taking up residence here.

So our ecologically sensitive and compassionate students decided to prepare wire nests and water pools for these creatures. Dividing themselves into groups, they assiduously prepared the nests and bowls and placed them in various trees and bushes. The number of birds and animals flocking to this green paradise is a sight to behold!

We believe that several small initiatives by small groups like these can really go a long way to bring  biodiversity and green cover back to a region. We really hope this kind of effort can have an inspirational and ripple effect!