Where education is not regimented
A few like-minded parents from Pune have come together to start a modern version of the age-old Gurukul system and their children are loving it
A recent report in one of the local newspapers talks about bringing in positive changes in our Indian education system by way of making studies more interesting and comprehensive. One wonders how and if ever it happens, when this transformation will take place. India’s burgeoning population means that many more children need to be educated, right from the rural areas. The hurdles encountered in providing children with supposedly good education, specially in urban areas are numerous like getting admissions, donations, exorbitant fees and mediocre standards of teaching.
However, some parents of Pune have circumvented this problem by adopting age-old Indian traditional system of education. Gurukul system, as its popularly known, is being followed on the foundations laid by the founder of Siddha Samadhi Yog — Guruji Shri Rishi Prabhakar. “Education is that which makes your life more and more enjoyable and effortless,” says Ashutosh Kulkarni, the project leader. “We believe in the five fundamentals of education, namely, Silence, Love, Vision, Excellence and Seva,” he elaborates.
According to one of the parents, Abhijit Ugar, a child is born with silence and love but we condition him socially, economically only to distance him from nature. In a bid to provide their children with real, meaningful and practical education, these parents have evolved a very unique workable system of education that recognises every child’s aptitude and the passion inherent in them. Proper encouragement and practical guidance provided in a loving environment is fostering tremendous confidence, sense of responsibility and most importantly, true happiness amongst the children. Little wonder then that they don’t miss going to school. “We love learning in this Gurukul way where there is freedom to learn whatever we want and at our pace in a practical way,” says Radnyee Nerlekar with a happy smile on her face. “Here there is no regimentation as it’s in school and no fear of writing exams,” quips Neha Uplavikar. Shlok Shinde and Aditya Bhade also agree in unison to this. According to them, their futures have been securely mapped out because of the hands-on training they are getting.
While Shlok is interested in engineering (he has developed a flute from PVC pipes), Aditya is seriously into technology and harbours ambition of going abroad to further his interests. “Even though we are not attending regular school, we don’t feel insecure because we will be carrying forward this Gurukul system and in the process carving out our careers,” opines Radnyee confidently.
HOW IT WORKS
This Gurukul system is based on LIFE — loving integrated family experiences. According to Kulkarni, both the parents and the children work in tandem. Management is getting into the heart of the person so that s/he does what is required. Based on this principle, the Gurukul system is divided into different gurukuls like Animal Gurukul, Healing Gurukul, Life Skills Gurukul etc. To impart education as per the respective children’s interests and aptitude, each parent is assigned with the task of teaching about six children. For this, parents proficient in their respective areas of work teach and provide guidance to the children. For example, if a child has interest in music, then s/he is trained by a parent well versed in music. Neha visits Dr Varsha Sidwadkar, a dermatologist and a parent in Gurukul regularly. “Children learn quickly by observing, so since Neha is interested in healing, I teach her about medicine,” explains Sidwadkar. This system that the parents have evolved is called governance of wisdom wherein each parent is fully committed to this cause notwithstanding their professional engagements.
For this system to be successful, unity, integrity and trust amongst the parents is of prime importance. These parents have come up with the concept of ‘parenting the parent’. As Ganesh Sidwadkar explains, “We have formed different groups like Vasishtha, Kabir etc. These are the family heads and parents are divided in these groups. Once, you are a part of a group, then it’s an extended family. So, the parent is fully involved with the other parent in every way, be it emotionally, socially.” Thus everyone is taken care of by everyone. This feeling is reflected on the faces of all parents as they not only teach each other’s children as their own but also treat them as their own.
This remarkable system has created a great bond of love and genuine affection among the Gurukul family. They all meet every Monday, keeping aside their work schedules, and deliberate and discuss future course of action for their children’s overall development. “Here, the children address their teachers as Acharya and not Miss or Sir or Madam,” says Kulkarni.
Also, the children attend a 10-day workshop at some beautiful, serene and natural surroundings like at Bhor where they learn the importance of silence and peace by living with just the basic necessities. “We want to train the children to know how to live in the moment. One who knows how to be into the unknown joyously,” opines Kulkarni.
In today, stressful world of cut throat competition, this certainly seems to be the perfect antidote!