“I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.”
The above quote perfectly explains the most important advantage of learning by doing. Sadly, most Indian schools have not been able to figure this out yet and are running on the pedagogy of classrooms. But there is one that has broken all the stereotypes and buckled down to establish an ideal school for children.
Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi worked as teachers in a government school in Kerala. As they went on to teach children, they found themselves immensely dissatisfied with the education system. They quit their jobs and started working on creating their own dream school and named it Sarang.
The couple wanted their school to have nothing that traditional schools in India have. So Sarang is about no curriculum, no certificates, and no degrees.
Sarang started in a modest space of 1 acre and Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi’s son Gautam was its first student. Gradually, other children from neighborhood and close families joined them. The school was situated on the slope of a hill which had very few trees and the only source of water had completely dried up. So the children of Sarang, some family members, and friends, joined the couple in restoring the land.
A major part of the land was dedicated to the forest, and the remaining part was used in the construction of a small building and growing food. All fruits, vegetables, and grains needed for Sarang were grown in-house using natural methods of farming. The type of crop was selected in a way that would enrich the soil naturally.
Apart from Gopalakrishnan, Vijayalekshmi, and their pupils, other inhabitants of Sarang were mouse-deer, rabbits, civets, hedgehogs, snails, barking deer and some rare species of frogs.
It has been more than 30 years since Sarang was set up in 1983. What started as a basic school has now grown into a rural university spread in 12 acres of land. Here, young ones and adults learn the simple solutions that a common man needs to live more naturally and sustainably. Watershed management, natural farming, low-cost construction, biodiversity conservation, live fencing against forest fire, energy, health, a platform for trans-cultural dialogue, etc. are a part of the curriculum at Sarang!