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Beyond Textbooks: Molding Young Minds through Experiential Learning

The human mind is a masterpiece where emotions, memories, and information processing converge, serving as the crossroads of the past and the present, shaping the future. Inside this realm, millions of neurons eagerly await direction. Yet, the pivotal question remains: what and who will guide them? Will it be a fleeting thought, a subtle stimulus, or a profound experience? And within this query lies another enigma: what determines the choice of a particular thought, stimulus, or experience? The answer lies within the "I" or the “self”, the essence of our being, a force that can be nurtured and cultivated through education. This ‘I” should not be confined to the mere absorption of knowledge from textbooks as it is a dynamic force that thrives on exploration, interaction, and experiential learning. The New Education Policy recognizes this fundamental truth and advocates for an educational paradigm that extends beyond the boundaries of conventional textbooks and classrooms.

Drishti Dr. R.C Jain Innovative Public School stands as a beacon of innovation in education, embodying the principles of the New Education Policy well before its official endorsement. Since its inception in 2006, the school has embraced a groundbreaking approach to learning by implementing the ‘No textbook policy up to Class V’. 

The learning process at Drishti

By eschewing traditional textbooks, Drishti has created an environment where learning transcends the confines of printed pages. Instead, students are encouraged to explore, experiment, and engage with the world around them through hands-on activities, experiential learning, and interactive projects. Moreover, these projects are interdisciplinary. For instance, in Class III, the topic of a balanced diet intertwines various disciplines: the assortment of delicious food items in lunch boxes according to their nutritional value, the procedural writing involved in cooking methods, and the mathematical concept of division, experienced through the equitable sharing of food. This meticulously planned activity is not only experiential but also integrates concepts from Environmental Studies (EVS), English, and Mathematics.

This pioneering approach fosters a deeper understanding of concepts and nurtures creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills from an early age. Students are encouraged not only to ask questions, but also to seek answers, and make connections between different subjects, thereby laying a strong foundation for lifelong learning and intellectual growth.

In the halls of Drishti, textbooks fade into the background, giving way to the vibrant tapestry of experiential learning. Here, the "I" flourishes, nourished by the boundless possibilities of exploration and interaction. In this nurturing environment, the seeds of knowledge blossom into the fruits of wisdom, guiding the ever-evolving dance of the human mind toward a brighter, more enlightened future.

Immersive learning

In the traditional system, we often start with a structured approach: a toddler is either shown a real ball, its model, or a flashcard to teach that it’s a “BALL”. But isn't there something magical about how children learn while playing? When children play outdoors or indoors with a ball, they effortlessly absorb the essence of a ball—its shape, its colours, its bounce, and the joyful experience of playing with it. In immersing themselves in the game, they grasp the word alongside understanding the concepts of companionship and teamwork, while also enhancing their gross motor skills. In this natural setting, learning transcends the burdensome act of memorization, transforming into a vibrant, organic experience, even for our youngest learners.

A shift in the learning paradigm

It is disheartening to see how the legacy of British Rule has confined our educational system to classrooms and text-based education, stripping away its once-rich experiential nature that helped foster fine intellectual habits in the past. Fortunately, diverse educational boards in India are currently spearheading substantial reforms in both the educational and examination systems.

Embracing a personalized learning model that involves students in designing and developing tasks will accelerate the pace of this change in education systems. Engagement of students is not measured by how quickly the student races through the content but by their ability to create an idea, determine key actions, set timelines, engage in an iterative cycle of drafts, receive and reflect on feedback, and pursue until the task is completed (Kallick & Zmunda, 2017). The teacher's role in this process is to encourage individual and creative thinking in students so that they may generate their unique ideas.

Despite all these efforts, at times the slow pace of change can be frustrating. Yet, this must not divert us from our pursuit of fostering the innate ‘JOY of LEARNING’.  It is important to remember that change is formidable, demanding us to unlearn old habits as we embrace new ones, akin to shedding old skin to allow new growth. 

While stagnation, much like walking on a treadmill, may seem easier, will take us nowhere. Embracing change, both the good and the challenging, is imperative for our personal and collective evolution.

And as we journey forward, it is also important to take a pause, soak in the beauty of our surroundings and reflect, because it is in such moments, in between the chaos of change that creativity and innovation blossom.


“Schools are the launch pads for the future. Education is no doubt TEACHER LED but it is STUDENT DIRECTED where Student is the CO-CREATOR.”

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