One of the conversations we had this week in reflection was focused on aspects of the D.A.V. school that are progressive – a trait the school prides itself in. For example, the students at this school wear uniforms, address their teachers in a certain way, and recite religious mantras.
When I first learned that we would be volunteering in a school, I thought the environment would be very strict and traditional, in both its teachings and expectations of the students. However, it was quite the contrary. I arrived in the host city of Delhi later than the rest of my group, so I had little background on the D.A.V. school. My only exposure had been hearing my ACE group singing religious mantra they had learned at the school. As a result, when I was told that we had been invited to a showcase of the students’ work, I simply assumed it would be a heavily traditional environment. However, this assumption was quickly challenged.
When I walked into the school, the teachers and students were so excited to present us their projects. They gave us a tour of the school during their annual showcase. Thousands of projects in various subjects were displayed from math to history to literature. In the US, you might expect the school to focus on math and science, but the D.A.V. school emphasized to the children that they should pursue any area they are passionate about. I saw the pride the students held in being able to present what they had researched and created. I met many girls who said that they wanted to become engineers and doctors, which was amazing because the Indian woman’s traditional role has been to be in the house. The students could also choose to be a part of dance groups and singing groups within the school.
In the US, you might expect the school to focus on math and science, but the D.A.V. school emphasized to the children that they should pursue any area they are passionate about. I saw the pride the students held in being able to present what they had researched and created
Each student created a project that they had worked on during their summer vacation. They were given topics but were able to choose specifically what they wanted to do and how they would present it. The products were astounding, from preschool to grade 12. What amazed me the most was that when presenting, they were very knowledgeable not only about their own project, but on other students’ projects as well. The creativity and time put into these projects emphasized how individual creativity can aid in the learning process. I think that the models created will serve as a tool to help the students not only learn the information in the short-term for the presentation, but also in the long-term, because they took the time to display information in a way that was personally interesting and that fit their individual learning style.
Because projects incorporated many different learning styles, each student created learning experience that fit them. In this way, a mixture of traditional values and progressive attitudes in education is useful because I could see how the students were given the opportunity to learn about their heritage while also being encouraged to question what exists and to be curious and experiment for themselves. They are able to learn the history of their country while being able to decide for themselves what they want to accept and believe in their lives.