Schools for Auroville
Started in 1984, the Kindergarten today provides for 46 children in four groups. About half these children are Tamilians, though ten other nationalities are also represented. The coordinating team consists of 7 main teachers and assistant teachers plus 5 specialized teachers for music, Sanskrit song, swimming and body awareness.
In the rhythm of the day, the Kindergarten alternates between rigorous activity and quiet activity, directed activity and free choice activity. The aim is to develop the whole child, their concentration and each of the senses, while at the same time keeping a balance between meeting the needs of the child and meeting the needs of the group. Children have opportunities for self-expression and the exploration of their own interests, but at the same time they are expected to be considerate toward others, to respect the environment, to participate and to share. The children learn in English, but all children are also taught Tamil and French plus songs in Sanskrit.
Deepanam School has been in existence since 2001 and is evolving towards a free progress education, following Sri Aurobindo's and Mother's principles and guidance. We also integrate the work of other educational researchers and pioneers which are in tune with these principles.
In this active and free progress oriented approach classrooms are replaced by areas of work and play, where children can move freely, following their own rhythm and inner guidance. These different areas are: Languages, Mathematics, World and Science, Arts, Role-play, Workshop (clay/carpentry), Garden and sports ground. In each of these areas children can find a variety of consciously chosen material, and a guiding person to assist them. The teachers also make sure that the prepared environment is always organized, safe and updated with new material. Besides this, several projects of different duration are always offered in which children can choose to participate.
Two to three times a month, there is an excursion exploring life in and around Auroville to gradually extend the area of the child's experiences. The weekly School Assembly gives the students the opportunity to make their own decisions regarding the functioning of the school and to closely come in touch with decision making process. Deepanam is offering a harmonious, organized and safe learning environment to all children, so they can grow integrally and in their own rhythm.
The progress we observed, so far, encourages us to continue.
To make our approach more alive and dynamic we would like to have more children in the school. We have space for 50 children, and our free progress group has 20 children now. We are taking new students between 7 and 10 years young and we intend to go on until the age of 14. Parents who are interested, please contact us. We hope you will support us in our sincere endeavour.
Located near Aspiration community, Last School is a middle/high school which has existed in Auroville since the year 1985. Students are in the age group 12 (sometimes younger) to 18 years and above. The school is open 5 days a week from Monday to Friday, during which students are required to maintain a full timetable. They are also expected to follow some physical education activity after class on all school days.
Education is based on the method that the Mother called 'Free Progress'. The spirit of this approach demands that the school organisation and programmes be as diverse and supple as possible to remain plastic enough to respond to each student's line of progress. The main object of this method is to help the adolescent find that part of himself that can then take up his own education. Last School's educational process wants to develop the students' faculties of the mind, the powers of the will, the refinement of the aesthetic and emotional being, and build all of this upon a strong and balanced physical being. There is an attempt to address each of these elements of the youth's psychological nature as consciously as possible. The teacher's task is to suggest, not impose, and a broad process of consultation is fundamental to the school's approach.
The programme available covers languages (the 4 mentioned by Mother to Auroville, plus others); literature and poetry; the pure sciences and mathematics; the social sciences (history, geography, economics, philosophy); and the arts - on which there is a special insistence and considerable interest among the students.
The students need to be self motivated, and can - if they wish - be involved in the decision-making process and changes affecting the school, since their opinion and feedback is very much respected.
Since some years there has been discussion on the next steps beyond high school level education. It was concluded that the name 'Super School' which is part of Mother's list of four names lent itself very well to the higher education component that had still to be created and which would then be the Aurovilian equivalent of college level study. Such a higher education programme has now been in existence from the past 2 years. It is at present situated in, and is partially a part of, the Last School free progress experience even though it has its own particular approach and identity.
It is at the super school stage that students are more and more linked to the larger collectivity through field trainings, apprenticeships and other work and study experiences which may be available through people and units of Auroville. The programme is still in a stage of exploration and all its elements have not yet fully emerged, but already it is seeding Auroville with new approaches to education as well as distributing within Auroville some unique learning-teaching material.
Super school is a school where the subjects are of the higher levels of human thought and action and are treated in a holistic manner. The programme is pursued at a 'super' level and at a 'super' or accelerated speed. The aim is to 'summarise' the human past so quickly that one can have all the energies to pursue the development of the future. This requires a great deal of 'schooling'. Super School prepares the being to enter into 'No School' which is the condition when the instrumental nature is fit to pursue on its own integral growth so as to create the four-fold personality spoken of by Sri Aurobindo: i.e. in the domains of wisdom, heroism, harmony, skill in works.
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