JOY OF LEARNING
“What avail is it to win prescribed amounts of information about geography and history, to win the ability to read and write, if in the process the individual loses his own soul?”I choose this quote from the well known sociologist John Dewey’s Experience and Education (1938). In Dewey I could sense for myself a certain connection with the goal of education as it is envisioned by the Mother. The most important aspect of education lies within the child and its own ambitions and desires. Its not about “doing school” but about “experiencing” with ones whole senses. Dewey’s words reflect on the common idea of school which is mainly about filling young minds with as much knowledge as possible thereby losing touch with the joyful aspect of learning. Therefore I am using his quote as a comparison with the results of the Mother’s idea on education which is successfully implemented in Auroville and which I could observe during my internship at the Udavi School.
About 15 years ago I personally got in touch with the Mother’s ideas on education which are actively deployed by the Auroville schools by studying briefly at New Creation. During my five months stay at the New Creation School I experienced Auroville as a student and a child and gained impressions of a different system of education than I knew from Germany. In 2010 I began studying for my teaching degree in primary schools at the University of Osnabrück in Germany.
By the time I made the decision to become a teacher I knew that an internship in an Auroville school would be an indispensable move, so when the time came for me to find a school in Auroville I immediately thought of Udavi since I had heard a lot of it from my father and his former students who had volunteered at Udavi before.
What really blew my mind were the children. I got in touch with nearly all of the, 4th, 5th and 6th graders from the ‘New Building’ during the breaks and discovered a variety of different but interesting characters. Each child had certain strength be it in arts, handicrafts, music or sports and many other aspects of dexterity and cognitive skills. Why these children overwhelmed me that much is because of their curiosity, their natural interest, their eagerness to learn and their gratefulness for having the ability to go to school. What impressed me the most was the children’s sense of humour which drew strongly from their really early understanding of sarcasm. I have to admit I had a lot of fun observing that certain ability of the children. I found it incredible how much they understood and adopted from the lessons and their interaction with the teachers. Generally the school, the staff, the morning meditating session, the variety of projects (e.g. vegetable garden, jewellery workshops, art exhibition) and the building itself serve extensively the idea of the children’s spirit to learn and their individual sense of wonder and curiosity. The whole surrounding and institution is built on the spirit of learning for life with and through interaction with other children, teachers, volunteers, parents and their own soul. For me as a volunteer it was great to see those children who were a little weaker in English, trying their best to communicate with me during the breaks and in the class.
As the title of my article might already imply I experienced Udavi School as a school of joy and help. The term of joy is coined in the meaning of an emotion which is of great delight or happiness caused by something good or satisfying. In this sense I locate the term of “learning” as being something good or satisfying thus affecting the emotions in a way which is of higher delight and happiness. Hence joy and learning are not excluding each other within the school content. The term of help is simply the translation of “Udavi” and the base on which it is built as a school of help offering education (physical, vital, mental, psychic and spiritual) for everyone. These two aspects are the most dominant and the most important ones I experienced in the school and within the staff. I saw proof that teaching can be a calm and fun activity for the teacher and the children once the environment gives the space to act on ones individual behalf.
While writing this article my mind is accompanied by so many warm, laughing, colourful and interesting pictures that make me feel a certain nostalgia and aspiration towards this school and my time spent there. For sure three months are definitely a very short time for an internship in such a special school. Now that I am back in Germany I know that my time at Udavi was a time most worthily spent. I gained so much knowledge for myself, my own patience grew and moreover I found an environment of joy and learning, space and curiosity and the child itself as the engine of education.