“The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile [or] shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.” - Paulo Freire.
In 2011, Bhoomi College announced two of its flagship postgraduate diploma courses - in Holistic Education and Sustainable Living. Bhoomi has, through Prakriya Green Wisdom School, dedicatedly pursued its mission of providing meaningful learning for the last 10 years. The launch of the one-year courses marks its foray into postgraduate education meant for those who want to pursue careers in the field of environment and sustainability or become educators in progressive, alternate schools.
Making learning more enlivening
Both courses, Bhoomi founding trustee Seetha Ananthasivan explains, aim at making education more human by breaking away from the content-driven, input-based mainstream education system that promotes individualism, competition, one-way knowledge transfer, and has fixed, predetermined outcomes.
They instead encourage participants to delve into themselves, relook at their own perceptual processes, and think in more holistic ways rather than in binaries. Self-initiated learning is encouraged and students hone their interests as they discover them during the course of programme.
The medium is the message
Education or what we learn is influenced by our own perceptual processes which are in turn conditioned by the current economic and cultural system we are a part of. In contrast to modern education systems that encourage individualism and competition, of key importance in the both programmes is the idea of fostering communities that learn and grow together.
Says Ananthasivan, “Building and developing new communities and integrating into existing ones is important in any kind of development work. During the course, students have an opportunity to live out community and learn collaboratively, often also sharing non-curricular activities like cooking and gardening.” In lieu of standardised grading systems, students regularly share and discuss their learnings with the group. The staff at Bhoomi have witnessed that the focus on community-building creates strong bonds between students and with the college that last well after they have completed their courses.
A week-long programme called Inner-Outer Ecology is meant to enable an understanding that humans too are a part of Nature, products of it, and dependent on it rather than separate beings. It reiterates that there is a stronger need than ever before to reconnect with it.
Freeing the mind from rigid structures
While both programmes follow a structured curriculum and offer students frameworks that can be implemented in any setup, the emphasis is not on content-delivery but on process. Processes are loosely designed to facilitate holistic learning by the group and make space for an emergent curriculum. Session design is co-created by the facilitators and students based on the stage of learning and what the group desires to take away from a session.
“Different people are triggered by different things in a session and when they choose to follow something they are triggered, it is often meaningful for them and they find themselves on the right path,” adds Rema Kumar, Director of Bhoomi College.
Bhoomi’s visiting faculty include some renowned and respected names such as Ashish Kothari, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Devinder Sharma and others who introduce students to cutting edge developments in the field of sustainability from all over the world. During a 6-month internship, students get hands-on experience working in a field of their interest. The management at Bhoomi is also contemplating an incubator to support student ventures in education and sustainability.
The Holistic Education programme is for those interested in becoming teachers, learning facilitators in alternative and progressive schools or educational entrepreneurs. This programme is offered in collaboration with Prakriya Green Wisdom School.
The Science and Management in Sustainable Living is targeted at people interested in a career in the social sector or those who wish to start farms and organic food related enterprises.
To learn more about course details, eligibility criteria, and application procedure, visit the Bhoomi College website.
Images: Bhoomi College.