The focus of HFES is on holistic education. Sounds like a cliché, doesn’t it? But there is one difference here we are actually very serious about it.
We all say that we want our children to be exposed to as much as possible, we want them to absorb information and arrive at understanding on their own. But how does that usually happen? In a classic urban family setting, the only thing that the child is exposed to is angry, stressed, demanding adults at home, at school and outside. Even new research about early brain development has led to a crazy rush for parents to give exposure to their children. The idea is that maximum brain connections happen in the age. Probably true, but what is dangerous and detrimental is that most of this exposure is limited to only information gathering.
For learning, exposure has to be effortless and spontaneous. Only then can the child be a sponge and absorb knowledge which results in understanding. We want our children to be all round adults when they grow up. That includes qualities like risk taking, problem solving, being courageous and daring, creative and imaginative. How can these attributes develop unless we allow them certain liberties? Hidden behind syllabus, textbooks, marks, grades, exams and competition pressure is the requirement to be standard and repetitive. Millennium breaks free of all these constraints and exposes the kids of a lot of activities which focus on developing all those qualities that the standard education system seeks to kill! And all these activities result in multi dimensional learning learning in a lot of different areas.
Simple things like copying a design with foam pieces to building a stable block structure make the children think on their own. Sometimes they are given only the end result and they figure out the procedure on their own in groups, through trial and error. The teacher does not tell them whether they are right or wrong. They figure out their own way and try to arrive at the expected result. Isn’t that what we need in real life? So, you can be sure that as young adults, these students will be quite something.
Sometimes they are given a problem statement only like a circuit diagram which does not quite work. So the students have to assemble it and then figure out what is wrong and try and fix it. It is again possible that there is no solution at all but a lot of different approaches have to be taken before deciding that. Another real life skill develops here.
Students even play games where they have to use strategy and cunning. Lots of on the spot decisions, strategies, optimization and planning happens when playing these games, with vocabulary building being a side effect.
Even traditional activities have amazing learning potential. In Diwali, as the students form groups to build killas, they have to make blueprints, gather resources and plan. As they get stones and mud from the heap, they gauge their own strength after the first trip and then figure out how to do things more efficiently. After the first day they have a better idea of the tools they need, they references needed and how to go about it. Usually the entire Killa of the first day is destroyed and started over on day 2 because of all the new learning and new decisions.
So, its really amazing as to how much students learn and develop in all these activities. And they are not a one-off thing at Holy Faith. They are integrated into the timetable and happen on a very regular basis, just like core academic subjects. Thinking, analysis, problem solving, risk taking etc. are a few of the parameters that can be developed and measured here. That reinforces what we do here and as you can see again, students learn as much outside the classroom as they learn inside it!