PILOTS - RENUKA DEVI VIDYA MANDIR, PUNE, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA
EVOLUTION OF WAVE FRAMEWORK
THROUGH PILOT WORK AT RENUKA DEVI VIDYA MANDIR,
MORWADI, PIMPRI, PUNE, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA–411017
1st AUGUST 2016
UNDERSTANDING THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN
When Mohan identified gaps in current education system such as –
Use of rote memorization methods for information absorption
Lack of retention of information
Lack of awareness during learning process
Lack of articulation skills
Lack of focus and concentration
Lack of experiential understanding of lessons
Lack of clarity on application of knowledge received in school
Lack of confidence
Lack of assurance about being able to create a livelihood or higher learning opportunity through use of knowledge
... through his personal experience and observation for over 20 years in India, Singapore and North America, he decided to address these gaps through building a framework based on what he learned and applied for over decades in his own academic and professional life with exemplary success. Another missing element which was extremely instrumental in his own success was the belief in wisdom principles, core thoughts and laws of nature that are universal in nature and agnostic of any religion or culture. He lived his life with those principles and saw them work very well. He then decided to create a repeatable, sustainable framework based on all those learning methods and wisdom principles and thus, WAVE framework (Wisdom Anchored Values Education) was conceived in his head in 2014. He started creating the framework that addresses these gaps. The framework included methods and techniques that enable -
Accelerated learning i.e. using our brain’s inherent capabilities to absorb, retain, recall, articulate and communicate any information effectively.
Optimal Learning i.e. learning with highest levels of awareness where there is no dilution or loss of information, which happens due to mind’s nature of wandering away from the present moment.
Experiential Learning i.e. learning that directly translates to clear understanding and therefore a sense of clarity and confidence about the topic. This involves thinking skills such as critical, analytical, creative thinking.
The framework places special emphasis on Wisdom and Values education as the bedrock or the foundation upon which all else is introduced.
When Mohan moved to India with his family in June 2016, he started his pilot of WAVE framework at Renuka Devi Vidya mandir school in July of 2016. He thought he had all the lesson plans created over a year that he will follow as a guide book and teach children what he thought they need. But within the first hour of first session at this school, it became very clear to him that it is important for him to first understand what children need instead of trying to give them what he felt they need. That is how the journey of WAVE began with this small school. Mohan learned a lot as he started teaching the children and teachers at this school. Children here come from very poor families where mothers are housemaids that work four to five houses every day sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms, washing dishes etc. Father is either dead or works as a daily wage labor, or a rag picker or earns a living through petty jobs with meager income. The school was also very resource challenged. The entire school was approximately 400 sqft. that had two tiny classrooms that were 8ft x 8ft. A loft that was approximately 12ft x 10 ft. and a hall that measured approximately 12ft x 12ft. The hall also served as the assembly hall, the classroom, the cafeteria, the hallway and the temple corridor. That’s right. The entire school is built around a temple of Renuka Devi goddess, which is a form of goddess Shakti. The school was on an extremely busy street of Morwadi road in Pimpri, Pune. The school entrance and the street was separated by 5 ft. As soon as you walk out of the school you would step into the street.
This was the environment the children came to learn every day. The teachers assembled in one of the corners of the main hall every morning. The school was run in two shifts to accommodate high number of children that lived in nearby slums. The morning shift was from 7:30 am to Noon with a 30 minutes lunch break at 10:15 am and the afternoon shift was from 12:30 to 5pm with a 30 minutes lunch break at 3:15 pm. For most children, this was the only meal they would get during the entire day. The meal provided by school every day was rice and vegetable stew.
As Mohan’s journey began he started interacting with the children and teachers twice every week for 10 months. Very soon he learned that these children have same inherent potential that any other child from a resourceful family has. They need a platform that helps them unleash this potential. It is not who they are but the situation they are in that holds them back. Although he could not change their financial situation, Mohan attempted to change their self-belief and self-image and give them hope so they can learn to strive for excellence in spite of the challenges. Thus, began the journey.
Below are some fundamental objectives that he discussed with the school Principal on his first day at school.
Augment gaps we have in our current education system through Accelerated learning using memory & minds science principles, optimal learning through mindfulness and increased awareness, experiential learning through hands-on and creative methods of learning, along with thinking skills with Wisdom and Values education as the bedrock for everything.
Integrate WAVE framework into the way learning and teaching is approached at schools and not run this program as an after-school or a weekend program. This meant that children will learn their regular academic subjects like science, history, geography, Math, English and other subjects using the WAVE principles and methods taught during this program.
Teach children and teachers directly for at least 4 to 6 hours every week. Therefore, requested the Principal to create time slots for me (twice a week) while they manage the school schedule without disrupting any other class or missing out on completing the syllabus within academic year.
Ensure that all or most teachers attend when he is teaching the 6th& 7th grade students because he wanted them to learn these skills and continue teaching all other children from other grades and future students so there is continuity and sustainability of WAVE framework even after Mohan left after finishing his 1-year pilot work.
After 4 to 5 sessions, Mohan realized the children had several challenges that needed to be addressed first before imparting the additional knowledge/skills through WAVE framework. The challenges that were observed in as high as 40% children were as follows:
Irregular attendance (Many children had to stay back home to take care of the younger siblings since parents were out on work)
Inability to focus/concentrate due to the very strenuous situation they have to go back to at the end of every day.
Inability to read and write
Inability to complete homework and show readiness for next session.
While it was clear that the knowledge/skills that Mohan wanted to give was for every child, he had to make few uncomfortable decisions about shortlisting only those that showed the above four pre-requisites for effective learning. It was decided to separate children based on the above criterion and address their primary needs before they could be recalled to attend WAVE sessions. Approximately 30% of the children were kept under special observation and training provided to them to address their primary needs. After 7 to 8 weeks of focused effort, these children were brought back into the WAVE sessions.
The Mind-map below summarizes all the things that children successfully learned over 10 months. Teachers that attended the sessions throughout the year, felt confident to continue teaching in the years to come. Today, Renuka Vidya Mandir continues to benefit from the seed that was planted and cared for during the one-year pilot. The pictures below describe the experience and evolution of WAVE at this school.
School Principal introducing Mohanand his son, Kartikeya to teachers and children.
Entire school can be seen in this picture below. The temple in center, two classrooms of 8 ft. x 8 ft. on either side of the temple. One 10ft. x 12ft. classroom above the temple. (see staircase to the right leading up to the classroom above). Students in the hallway.
Children, teachers and Principal Practicing Alpha meditation, that became a ritual with which each session would start.
Teachers are volunteers handling small group sessions.
Children demonstrating the application of WAVE framework techniques
Mohan’s daughter, Esha reading stories to children to help improve their reading and comprehension abilities
Simple mind-map and mnemonic that helped children learn the topic of natural resources.
Children learning all about Electricity, experientially using STEM kits from the US
Mohan’s son, Kartikeya helping children learnall about light, experientially using STEM kits from the US
Children learning all about human anatomy, experientially using STEM kits from the US
The teacher (Mrs. Pathan) that diligently took notes so she can continue teaching new students year after year beyond the pilot.
Celebrated the festival of, ‘Holi’ by burning away our fears and self-inflicted limitations.
Year-end ceremony with a snack party and recollection of beautiful moments and memories using a PowerPoint presentation that Kartikeya prepared.
Wrap-up day: Children and staff expressing their thoughts on the WAVE pilot.