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Raising Children to be the Change-Makers

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With a legacy spanning 114 years, Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions is a well-known name in the education domain across the country. A number of industry best practices are currently being employed by the institution for the holistic development of students, says Shishir Jaipuria, Chairman, Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions, in an interview with Elets News Network (ENN).

How do you foster curiosity and critical thinking in a child?

Shishir Jaipuria

Shishir Jaipuria, Chairman, Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions

Children are by nature curious and they have a lot of questions to ask and seek clarification. The school environment which we provide, encourages our students to ask questions and learn through peer group activities. The teaching-learning system is designed like a voyage of exploration that brings a lot of joy to students at each destination, with each discovery. The design of each program fosters curiosity and critical thinking. The students progress step by step from acquiring basic knowledge to solving complex problems. Project-based learning (PBL) is an integral part of the school curriculum which sparks curiosity to enquire, question, find out solutions and thereby enhance critical thinking and application of concepts.

Initiatives like STEAM and ATAL Tinkering Lab promote creativity and critical application. Operational tools like Robotics Club, Math’s & Science kits , Question wall & Think Tank Corner, TED TALK, dedicated spaces for Fine Arts, Music, Dance & Theater, Art & Craft, graphic studio, Annual Exhibition, Multiple Intelligence Camps etc are used in the school to inculcate curiosity and critical thinking among children. We also conduct a lot of activities focused on environmental challenges and community services to develop qualities of good citizenship. These areas also challenge the students’ mind to find creative solutions to social and environmental problems.

How do you focus on the training of your teachers?

Training of trainers is of utmost importance to us. Teachers are the most important influencers in the life of every student. They are the fulcrum of the school education system and each teacher holds a delicate balance for the life of every student she/he tutors. The teacher is also looked upon as a mentor and a role model of impeccable conduct, which goes far beyond the official role of a Teacher.

Seth Anandram Jaipuria Schools focus on professional development of teachers as a systemic intervention. We have a systematic process for the training of teachers. The Corporate Resource Cell and School Resource Cells provide institutional guidance for assessment of training needs, to design training programmes and implement.

The training curriculum is designed to update domain knowledge, meet standards and the training modules are calibrated to provide personal attention to each teacher. It underlines subject-matter mastery and provides hands-on experience for teachers under the guidance of experienced facilitators. The resource persons are empanelled or associated with CBSE, NCERT, CIET, NIIT etc. Apart from subject-domain skills, we train teachers on Soft Skills and IT-enabled Pedagogy. We also encourage all teachers for selfreflection, continuous self-improvement using online resources and keeping an open mind for observing and learning from peers.

Student security is of huge concern these days. How does your school ensure student safety?

Our Schools pay high attention to student safety. We are committed to the parents to provide a safe and secure environment for students to learn, so that their parents can send their children to school without anxiety or fear. Our school infrastructure meets construction and building safety standards applicable for educational institutions. All operational safety policies, procedures, rules and regulations are documented and followed. The School Safety Committees are in place to oversee and implement safety policies. GPS enabled buses equipped with fire extinguishers, first-aid and horizontal iron bars on windows ensure safe to & fro transit of students. A teacher accompanies the students on board, in every bus during transit.

All our school campuses are secured with boundary wall and round the clock ‘Watch and Ward Service’. Iron Grills are installed at all vulnerable entry-exit points protecting the corridors, class rooms and washrooms used by the students. CCTV surveillance is installed as per norms for the entire school and is diligently monitored. Lady security personnel are detailed for guarding areas exclusively used by Girls. Police verification of character antecedent is mandatory for all employees, including outsourced services staff, before appointment and deployment in school services.

Special attention is paid regarding chemical use in labs, use of art tools, cyber safety, and during sports events, fire drills, earthquake evacuation drills, etc. Safety mock-drills for checking an emergency, are periodically conducted at each school premise. Sensitization training on POCSO and COPTA are organised periodically. Workshops are conducted for staff and all other associated stakeholders to sensitise on child emotion. Expert therapists visit the School for counselling students to relieve stress.

Please tell us about the pedagogy adopted for K-12 in your school and about its unique aspects.

We have a progressive school system. Though we follow board curriculum, it doesn’t restrict us to experiment with new things and try out new pedagogies. Whether it’s integrating life-skills in curriculum or welcoming the latest learning technology into our classrooms, we make sure our children get the latest and the best. We keep an open mind. We believe, pedagogical innovation is imperative for continuing the journey of excellence. We are having a running dialogue with Microsoft Education, Google Education and the Khan Academy to improve our pedagogy. We are working with a number of reputed educationists and consultants for continuous improvement. We visit the premises of Schools in India and abroad to learn about their new interventions or experiments.

The classrooms in our schools are now competing with virtual classrooms which are flourishing in the Internet and Social Media. The pedagogy in our schools has to stay ahead and retain the edge over the virtual platforms. It is a humongous challenge but our Schools and our teachers are reinventing continuously to stay on top. We have successfully converted the threat from the internet and social media to a great opportunity for building a massive collaborative platform.

We focus on interdisciplinary teaching wherein we foster critical thinking to align and integrate learning from different subjects to make them interesting and applicable to complex problem-solving. We leverage IT for enhancing the speed of learning and enriching the learning experience for students. Our students are trained to excel in the curricular as well as extracurricular faculties. They learn to handle pressure without losing the smile on their faces. They are not only trained to be digital savvy, with a modern outlook, but also as compassionate human beings with a feel for the society and environment and their minds deeply rooted in the ethos of Indian Culture.

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