Arundhati Mitter, Executive Director at Flow India, has for the span of last 6 years kept a close watch on how global educational frameworks can be adapted to the context of Indian learning ecosystems. Here, she reflects on India’s decision to end its PISA boycott and enter the fray in 2021.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial survey that evaluates education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students who are nearing the end of their compulsory education. In 2018, it introduced a new category for testing, in addition to literacy, numeracy, and scientific knowledge, global competence.

PISA outlines ‘global competence’ as learners’ capacity to examine local, global and intercultural issues to understand and appreciate the perspectives and worldviews of others. It is a test to see if a learner can engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with people from different cultures and if they can act for collective well-being and sustainable development for all. …

Sarvesh Srinivasan, Executive Director at GEAR Foundation that manages Bangalore’s premium GEAR Innovative Intl. School, spoke to Flow about his work, vision, thoughts for the future of learning and what schools look for when they work with culture partners.

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GEAR Cubs ‘puppet’ around at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath with Flow, India

On challenges to setting up the school

Most of my childhood, age 9 onwards, was centered around my father’s dream of establishing his school. I have experienced first hand the difficulties and challenges he faced in his journey. One of his earlier struggles included facing the rampant red-tapism in the Karnataka Education department that made obtaining permissions to start an English medium school an extremely circuitous and slow process. Eventually, he resorted to taking over a preexisting school which on paper had proper infrastructure and 400 students but in reality functioned out of a rented house and had a student strength that was pitiably less than projected. For my father, who had worked abroad and saved up for his dream to set up a model school in India, these on-ground realities were like a rude awakening.
Through his struggle, he identified for me the two mindsets that had to be dealt with to execute any good work: short sightedness and opportunism. I feel these two culprits have led us to be a society with tremendous potential but little evidence to show for it.

Bangalore based Lekha Naidu, theatre practitioner, educator, arts administrator, and photographer, who has assisted Flow team in delivering quite a few programmes in the city, shares her thoughts on implementation of museum education outreach workshops at MAP (Museum of Art and Photography) and the value she sees in arts education.

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Lekha in purple along with Flow team member at MAP

Resonating on the same frequency as Flow…

My interest in working with children and my exploration on how to enhance their experience of learning, works well with programmes run by Flow. The idea of making learning holistic and fun for children and providing their teachers a masterclass on how to enable such a learning is what excited me the most. …

Mihir Dhar Prabhu, a theatre artist who doubled up as a voiceover artist for the Culture Connectors project, shares his thoughts on the value of virtual reality-based learning applications

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Mihir works as an educator focusing in the field of arts. He is also a theatre artist and director, who is taking training in arts-based therapy. He is an alumnus of Ambedkar University Delhi, where he studied history.

He lent his animated voice and hours of good-humoured practice and on-mic sessions to get the right verve to the voice-over script that focuses on exploring the Qutb Complex through anecdotes, storytelling and games. …

Flow project liaison and operations-in-charge, Bani Maini and administrator, Waseem Saifi share their thoughts, ideas, and learnings on coordinating and implementing Flow City School Project last year

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Waseem and Bani

Flow City School Project (CSP) is designed to foster in K12 learners an interest in a city’s cultural and historical ecosystem. The project, which is currently operational in Delhi, is a bouquet of 8 experiences designed around select heritage sites where each experience and its corresponding site addresses a set of curricular and learning goal of a particular grade. While the Project is available all year-round, it is the few months of winter, when Delhi wears its prettiest flowers, green trees, forgiving clouds, and deliciously nippy cold, that schools most look forward to a chance to take their learners outdoors. Quite naturally, many choose to take up our project and experience the joy of learning in an outdoor, cultural lab of a museum or a heritage site. While the design and implementation of the project is tremendous joy, Flow also takes pride in being adept planners and organizers. …

Notes from working with English and Social Sciences teachers of Bal Bharati School, Rewa

In the last two years of designing and implementing training workshops for English and Social Sciences teachers from classes 3–5 at Bal Bharati School, Flow team has had a unique opportunity to explore and address the vulnerabilities of teachers.

Here we discuss some of their challenges which shape their practice, and how we tried to address them as learning designers and strategists. …

UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Education & Peace invited Professor Richard Davidson an American neuroscientist and psychologist to talk about the Centre for Healthy Mind’s research on how ‘well-being is a skill’.

Well-being was discussed as a state of being comprised of a set of skills, which can be learnt and cultivated over time. Going on to discuss how this area of contemplative neuroscience is built at the confluence of four key concepts in science.

· Neuroplasticity — the brain’s’ ability to change in response to experience and to training. …

‘The spontaneous emergence of order at critical points of instability is one of the most important concepts of the new understanding of life — referred to simply as emergence. It has been recognised as the dynamic origin of development, learning and evolution. In other words, creativity — the generation of new forms — is a key property of all living systems.’

- P. 12 Fritjof Capra, Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living

All aspects of natural life depend on creativity or the generation of new forms — from our well-being, technological advances and discoveries, as well as to fulfil social and individual goals. Now more than ever the 21st Century continues to present new complex environmental, humanitarian, medical and legal issues. Our education systems need to produce thinkers, actors, and carers for our environments who can approach arising issues in search for creative solutions. …

Social sciences teachers from Delhi participate in Flow’s popular teacher training programme on using museums as active sites for out-of-classroom learning

October 30 saw the Flow team deliver its 6th edition of the unique teacher training master class that focuses on object-based-learning in museum sites, delivered to 30 social sciences teachers from around Delhi.

The package designed around history and art galleries of National Museum activates the museum’s collections and ties them firmly with curriculum themes within social sciences.

A combination of engagement tools such as demonstration, discussion, role-playing, and art was used to showcase the full potential of museums as active spaces for learning.

Take a look at some photos and hear one of the participating teachers share her thoughts on the master class.

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Flow orients teachers to value and basis of the museum and object-based learning

How might creativity be nurtured in learners, teachers as well as in our existing and future learning environments?

A logical approach to answer this question might be to first understand what creativity is and what its value to us individually or socially is. Words often associated with creativity like ‘fun’, ‘expression’, ‘innovation’, ‘art’, ‘inspiration’ and ‘imagination’ paint a picture of the effects of this trait, yet its essence evades us. Much like the concept of learning, creativity is not a fixed notion but a social, cultural and psychological construct and process which emerges from a system of interactions.

If creativity is defined within particular cultural contexts, then it might be fair to presume that it also contributes to these environments. It is these cultural perceptions of creativity that shape its form. Eastern cultures for instance consider creativity to build on past work –from tradition (Niu & Kaufman, 2013[1]). It is this cultural mindset rooted in the deeper spiritual philosophies common in the Vedanta’s, Taoism and Buddhism that believe in a unified nature of being, which make up people and the environment. This knowing results in a perceived greater value in the creative process, personal fulfillment, and enlightenment. Western conceptions of creativity focused on novelty and a departure from tradition has produced a focus on the product as opposed to the process. …

Flow India

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