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Why not re-package summer holidays?

WHY IS a classroom square? Why toe the old concept of summer holidays? When Professor Debashis Chatterjee, chairman of the Global Centre for Leadership and Human Values at IIM-Lucknow raised these questions on the concluding day of his Leading Schools workshop, the august participants, including the chief guest, CBSE Chairman, Ashok Ganguly, listened with rapt attention.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2006 00:22 IST

WHY IS a classroom square? Why toe the old concept of summer holidays?

When Professor Debashis Chatterjee, chairman of the Global Centre for Leadership and Human Values at IIM-Lucknow raised these questions on the concluding day of his Leading Schools workshop, the august participants, including the chief guest, CBSE Chairman, Ashok Ganguly, listened with rapt attention.

The basic idea, as Prof Chatterjee emphasised later, was to make the participants— principals and teachers of leading schools across the country, think of how to make the school environment more conducive for the development of the child. “The concept of summer holidays started some 400 years ago when parents used to require the kids to assist them during the harvesting season. “Now, why cann’t we think of 15-day holidays in four phases instead of weaning the child from his school environment for 2 months?” he asked.

Also, as Prof Chatterjee told HT Live later, “the seating arrangements inside classrooms are archaic. These are mechanical models with hardly any scope for innovation. In several schools the seats are glued to the floor. Imagine, trying to develop a child’s vision by forcing him to look straight.”

The objectives of the workshop were to provide the participants an understanding of what leaders do in order to create excellent learning institutions, provide a forum for structured conversations on problems and issues relating to creating of creativity and innovation, creating an execution compass, emotional resonance, leadership in response to stress and above all how to lead change and transform people and institutions. CBSE chairman Ganguly, who has also initiated a similar programme in CBSE affiliated institutions, nominated 15 CBSE schools to attend the workshop. “In association with IIMs and other leading institutions we want to usher in a change in the school system,” Ganguly told HT Live. Excited by the initiative, several school principals shared how they in their own ways were trying to break free of the “mechanical models” of learning.

Veena Raizada, principal ITL Public School, Sector 9, Dwarka, New Delhi talked about how she had started the practice of encouraging students to go on a “visualisation mode” during assembly.

“We make the participants think of what they want to become and then ask them to visualize their dreams,” she said. This, Prof Chatterjee, felt was what the endeavor was all about.

Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal Springdale School, New Delhi and Shashi Banerjee, principal, Uttamchand School, Ghaziabad too discussed the change that they were trying to bring about.       

Prof Chatterjee also showed the school principals clippings of the film ‘Gandhi’ and discussed the power of creative thinking. “Gandhi was thrown off the train in Africa. He was angry. Yet, he allowed the anger to co-exist with its exact opposite emotion, love. He didn’t let the anger consume him,” he explained. He showed another clipping of the same film where Gandhi was shown being beaten up by British cops. Cops continued beating him and Gandhi went about burning the passes till such time he fell down. As he fell, he still mustered courage to throw yet another pass in the fire. “Now, look, how power shifts from the one who is all powerful to the one who was relatively powerless. Look, how the cops couldn’t muster courage to deliver the last blow. It is generally believed that Gandhi brought the British Empire down. No, he simply showed the disintegration within the British Empire. The Brits themselves brought about their downfall.

Teach children to harness their creativity and conserve anger,” he said.
On Thursday night the principals let down their hair and broke into a jig at the dinner thrown by Prof Chatterjee.

On Friday, after the valedictory session, as principals started leaving, each one of them was full of praise for Prof Chatterjee. In their feedback form too most of them said that they were returning back “enriched”.