|Employer:||Pushp Niketan School|
|Languages:||English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali.|
• Associated with an NGO called Samvada (dialogue) in Bangalore, for two years during my law studies in Bangalore from June 1995 till May 1997.My involvement with this organisation, has given me the needed sensitivity to understand and empathise with issues related to the underprivileged and those who are helpless. Samvada is an NGO which was a part of Indo-German Social Service society (IGSSS), which exposed college students to various social and environmental issues all over the world. They provided students with a platform to have dialogues on various issues. The spark ignited in my heart long ago by Samvada, has turned into a beautiful bright light inside me which always guides me to involve in developmental activities.
• Employed with Indian Army as a Short Service Commissioned Officer from 01 May 1997 till June 2003 (including one year training at Officer’s Training Academy, Chennai). Served in an Infantry Battalion. Took voluntary release from service in the rank of Major after completion of 5 year contractual period. Served in Hyderabad, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistan border), Bengal and Sikkim (China, Bangladesh and Bhutan border), Assam (counter insurgency), Arunachal Pradesh (China and Burma border), Pathankot (Pakistan border). I have actively participated in the kargil war operations.
• Employed with Indus International School, Bangalore (an IB/IGCSE accredited School) for two years from August 2003 till July 2005 as an Administrator). In addition to this I have taught Economics, Business Studies and Geography to grade 9-10 students of NIOS course and was a facilitator for IGCSE (Cambridge course), Environmental Management students.
• Employed with GD Goenka World School, Delhi (an IB/IGCSE/CBSE accredited School), from July 2005 till October 2006 as an Administrator managing a team of staff members comprising of House parents, Pastoral care personnel, Academic Support Teachers, Psychological/Career Counselors, Physical Education Teachers, Activity Teachers and other staff, who were in charge of young boys and girls in the age group eight to eighteen years.
• Employed by idiscoveri CEE, as the Campus Chief during Youreka (Outdoor & Experiential Education Programme) summer camps in May 2007.
• Presently, employed since November 2006 as the Principal (a position equal to the post of Deputy General Manager in the Dhampur Sugar Mills Ltd. Company) of a Progressive, inquiry based, child centered School, offering thematic pedagogy, called Pushp Niketan, run by the Dhampur Sugar Mills Ltd. at Dhampur, UP.
• Bachelor of Arts, St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore. • AMI- Holland (Association Montessori International) Diplôma. This is a one year International Montessori Diploma in Child Psychology and Educational Methods. • Two years Masters in HRM and HRD from IIMM, Pune. • Three year LLB (LAW) degree from Bangalore University. • Master of Arts in Gandhian Thought, Madhurai Kamraj University. • Master of Commerce in Education Management, Annamalai University. • Executive Management Programme with specialization in Human Resources Management from XLRI (Xavier labour Relations Institute), Jamshedpur. • Pursuing MPhil in Peace Making & Gandhian Thought, Madhurai Kamraj University. My thesis is on studying the feasibility of introducing holistic education in small towns in India as a peace initiative. Also pursuing a course in MSc. Applied psychology.
Additional Professional Courses Undertaken • One year Advanced Psychological Counseling diploma from IHCA, Chennai. • One year Postgraduate diploma in Environmental Science from IHCA, Chennai. • Certificate courses in Transactional Analysis, Jenny Mosley’s Circle Time, Carl Rogers’ Non Directive Counseling techniques, youth counseling, International Baccalaureate Primary Years Training Programme and Volunteer Management workshop offered by ivolunteer sponsored by VSO International (Volunteering Service Oversees). • Basic course in Computer Application. • The World class Leadership programme-Exercising leadership in Schools, offered by idiscoveri Centre for Education & Enterprise, Gurgoan in partnership with Wipro applying thought in Schools. • The Campus Chief’s training programme offered by Youreka, the Outdoor Wing of idiscoveri CEE, offering Experiential Outdoor Education to corporates and school students • Workshop on Active learning by Ruth and D Rastogi, educational consultants with Ekalavya, Bhopal in partnership with Wipro Applying thought in Schools. • Course on the art of teaching learning from the Society for the integrated development of Himalayas, Kempty, Mussourie. • Four days professional workshop on fundraising organized by South Asian Fundraiser’s group, Delhi.
• Traveling & Adventure activities. • Reading books on Psychology, Education, Spirituality and Philosophy. • Counseling Children & Adults. • Practicing yoga, meditation and athletics & other games
1. Education Management 2. Psychological Counseling 3. Teaching 4. Curriculum Development 5. Book Production 6. Promotion of health thrrough Sports and Games 7. Creative Education
Pushp Niketan School…….
Pushp Niketan School is located in a semi urban town of Dhampur in the Dhampur Sugar Mills campus in Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh State in India. It is situated in a beautiful campus, loved by children. It is visualized to be a world class model for progressive education with child centric education philosophy, pedagogies and processes. Here, we have established a non hierarchical, alternative school promoting excellence in learning and sound values in a safe, supporting and stimulating environment. The school is a non profit venture, presently supported by the Sugar mill and caters to the people residing in and around Dhampur town and rural areas. It is around two years old now and we have classes from foundation till the fifth grade. This school has been started as a pilot venture to bring in high quality thematic/inquiry based, child-centered education methodologies to small towns and rural settings in India. A great thought behind this project is “a lot is happening in the cities, not in small towns, so let’s join hands in raising the quality of life and education in small towns like Dhampur.” Our Mission: In the process of education, the school aids the spontaneous development of the mental, spiritual, emotional, psychic, physical, creative and artistic personality of the child, thus giving them an all round growth potential. Our school is an extension of the student’s home where care, love, good sense, discipline, humor, empathy and traditional values abound. It provides for growing children to grow harmoniously in an environment that respects each individual’s space while sharing a family life experience. Here we nurture the varied multiple intelligences present in children and provide enough opportunity and freedom for expression and thus for love of learning to grow and lead to an explosion. The students studying in the school are exposed to an integrated value system based on the family, community and global society. While individualism has its virtues, progress within society occurs largely when students work jointly, and are able to fuse their personal, social and global values. Team spirit arises through sound social values by placing community interests above one. The life at school enhances the ability of a student to make a choice in governing one's life, choosing right value systems and determining relationships. This is brought about by providing them an atmosphere of compassion, love and emotional stability.
We lay a lot of importance on physical development through participation in sports. This promotes qualities like cheerfulness, comradeship, spirit, frankness, courage, emotional well being and paves the way to remove narrow feelings not suited to humanity. Sports has various other advantages like building up stamina, body flexibility, strength, grace, improving eye-hand co-ordination, cardio-vascular fitness and agility.
We believe that every child is unique and has varied skills and interests in varied fields. This includes music, dance, art and craft. The teachers are the first to identify this and to help the child express and develop them. The biggest impediment in learning, in leading and in living life fully is fear. Fear may be in the form of fear of authority, of the unknown, of failures and even fear of oneself. We therefore, encourage the questioning spirit and appreciate candor in relationships, both in children and teachers. This paves the way for creativity and ‘initiative’ to be instilled. The theme/project based learning and child centered methodology of teaching facilitate this thoroughly, brought about through inquiry, dialogue, experimentation, discussions, outside classroom exposure and hands on experience. For this we ensure freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of movement and freedom of choice, which paves the way for the development of strong will power and confidence in children.
There is a fair mix of freedom and discipline in school life. This is done to ensure development of students with balanced personalities. Discipline may be imposed which would ultimately take the form of self-responsibility that comes about through values, education and motivation. Discipline also implies respecting the norms of other cultures and accepting criticism in a positive manner. We thus encourage students to build co-operation and generate harmony amongst each other.
Teachers take care by providing children, counseling and high standards of safety and livability in the school. We also advice, counsel and mentor students on all round performance, personal issues and social guidance.
A lot of training and opportunity is made available to teachers and students to assume leadership and service roles in the school and thus in the community to help realize their social responsibilities.
In imparting such an education stated above, we need to involve the community in the process and also enrich the community which the students represent. This is essential as change can only be brought about simultaneously in both places-community and school. It cannot take place in isolation…….
The Unfolding Story of Pushp Niketan, Dhampur, India. (Interview of three people associated with the school, published in a quarterly magazine called Mind Fields, by an organization called idiscoveri who pioneer in innovations in the field of curriculum development, school leadership programme and whole school development.)
It happens all the time, a slow trickle from villages and towns gathering at the helms of a metropolis, in hope of a livelihood, or in pursuit of a dream. Less common are the stories of a city reaching out towards the villages.
Hundred and ninety eight kilometers is not a long way off. But if you have made your way from Delhi to Bijnor behind a slow crawl of sugarcane-laden number plate-less automobiles, you feel the distance acutely. Dhampur Sugar Mill is the most famous thing about this town; indeed, it is the hub around which all social and professional activities here revolve. We were in Dhampur in pursuit of a teacher (see Harendra Chand’s interview), but ended up profiling Pushp Niketan School, nestled in the grey sugar mill complex.
What is now the school was once a sugarcane laboratory. In true small-town quaintness, there is much that the school still needs to get into place, but Pushp Niketan School has airy, light-filled classrooms, playground, auditorium, Olympic-size swimming pool and squash courts. Another thing it has is a small band of devoted teachers.
Here are the stories of three people whose efforts keep the fledgling but ambitious project going……..
A child’s class should be like a kabaadikhana (Scrap dealer’s store)
Harendra Chand is one of the senior teachers at Pushp Niketan School, Dhampur.
From Balesore District, Orissa to Bijnor District, Uttar Pradesh… Yes. It has been a journey. After an Education Honors degree, I was trained at Mozambican School, Delhi, taught at a CBSE school in Gaya (Bihar), Auroville (Pondicherry), and now, Dhampur!
What inspired you to be a teacher? I did not really start with any great faith in the educational system in India. Was always the tedha (twisted) sort who had to question everything. I used to run a business of my own, making dronas…those disposable containers made from leaves…used to do this between classes while I was studying. Teaching came my way. I was keen to make it on my own without my parents’ help.
What was the Mirambika experience like? Very hard, to begin with. There was some frustration with the rigidity of their structure. I think the hardest lesson was one of the earliest…the discipline of being still and observing the world around me without any distractions. It was very difficult, but self-evolution starts from being still and observing. Being able to observe things well is very important for a teacher.
An important realization while training to be a teacher… Not everyone who is a teacher needs to be a brilliant person. But you need to be a person who can connect with children with a lot of love and attentiveness.
On different types of parents you have observed in your characters… There are some hi-fi parents who only send their children to alternative schools because of the snob value. The second kind has full understanding of the school’s ideology and full faith in the teachers. The third kind are full of questions…they have hazaar(thousand) questions, but hate to step into the process or involve themselves too much. The third kind is the most difficult!
What age group of students do you teach? Six to eight year olds, mostly.
You have taught at a conventional CBSE-board school too. What was the most glaring difference while taking your ideology to a traditional school? I tried to do the best I could with the textbook. Rather than teach directly from the book, I tried to connect it up with their town, their culture, things that they understand…and then teach about things that are far away. The glaring problem with a school like this is in the conflicting demands placed by teachers whose own teaching methods are not similar. A child learns in a free environment in my class, and then as soon as the bell rings…in walks somebody who scolds, threatens and punishes them. The contrast is too stark.
And what is the glaring difference in the kids from urban and rural schools… The wisdom that children around the world are the same is mostly true! The only thing is that city children are less eager than the kids in smaller towns, they have seen too much too soon.
Your trick to creating a beautiful physical environment in your classrooms…
(Laughs) beautiful? Bacchhon ka class kabadikhaana hona chahiye. (Children’s rooms should be like a scrap dealer’s shop). That is the environment that they like the best. There is no need to be a neat freak. When you need to get a message across, lead by example. A gentle reminder is enough. Messiness does not mean lack of hygiene though. I think displaying children’s’ work all over is a must.
Experience with new children entering your class environment… When children come from a new school, they initially feel superior to the children in class because they cram so much more in other schools. I just let them be. They watch from the fringes for some days, and then, without a word, they come to their own realizations and become one with the group!
So how have your ideas about education changed over the years. They haven’t. Education pey to abhi bhi bharosa nahi hai, lekin ab apne aap pey bahut bharosa hai (I still do not have much faith on education, but have started having tremendous faith on myself).
What do you do outside of class? Often, after school, an informal bunch of children from the sarkari (government) school gather and I play fun games and have activities with them. It’s a change for them after their boring school life. I play cricket with my brothers sometimes. I’m not so interested in watching films or making new friends.
You met your wife Laxmi at Auroville, and she shares your passion for teaching… Yes! We even talk about teaching when I help her in the kitchen. I chop the vegetables, she cooks, and still school does not leave us.
What’s in the bag you take to school everyday? No bag for me. I carry one or two copies or nothing at all.
What is essential in your classroom? One-sided paper. Colors. Scissors. Pencils. So that kids can engage in their own creative work as soon as they have finished what they are supposed to do in class.
What ideology and philosophy has affected you most? I am not a big reader, I like to try things out first-hand rather than read bookish things. I am affected by the teachings of Aurobindo and the Mother, but I will gather new ideas from wherever I find them. Akhir yeh bhi to sochne waali baat hai ki apni khud ki philosophy kya hai (Ultimately we need to understand and develop our own philosophy).
If not a teacher, then what… I can probably do any sort of work if I had to, but I would always know that nothing would utilize my mind better than teaching does.
Are you in touch with any of your ex students? I made a conscious decision not to do that. If they need me, they know they can always reach me. It is good to allow children to get new people in their life. They need to grow and foster new influences and relationships. What is the use of making them cling to you?
From abandoned sugarcane laboratory to alternative school
Rohit Sood headed the team that incubated the Pushp Niketan Project from September 2005 to December 2006.
What was it like in the beginning? When I joined, the sugarcane laboratory had just been transformed into a school, and classes on the ground floor were functional! I took over from the rather overwhelming figure of iDiscoveri’s Ronnie Gulati. This was not easy because everyone thought I was this rank baccha (Kid). Age and image was an issue, but once I started spending time with the parents, having conversations with them about what we had in mind, they began to trust me more. It was an exciting time.
What sort of a school did you have in mind? After completing my schooling in Mirambika (Aurobindo ashram-New Delhi), I have undergone their 3-year diploma in progressive education. I have also worked with a school in Auroville (Aurobindo ashram-Pondicherry, India) and at the Valley school, Bangalore. So my grounding is firmly in alternative education. This is what we wanted to bring to Pushp Niketan.
It’s hard enough getting parents in cities to think beyond conventional schools. How does one manage in a place like Dhampur? We met the same apprehensions – are the kids learning ‘enough’ when you teach them like this? What sort of homework is it when all the kids do, for example, is collect leaves? Why aren’t you completing the portion in textbooks? We start off with a disadvantage here as opposed to at a Mirambika, because parents are not converts to the ideology already.
So how do you strike a balance between the curricula followed by schools in the rest of country, and what is being followed here at Pushp Niketan? We have NCERT (National council of Education research and training) and CBSE (Central board of secondary education) textbooks in our library, and we use them as reference material in planning our lessons. Subjects like Math are taught step-by-step, based on a set of learning outcomes.
You moved here with a few handpicked teachers. A small group of teacher trainers from iDiscoveri centre for education and enterprise shuttled between Delhi and Dhampur. What was the goal in the time that iDiscoveri was fostering the project? We wanted to make sure that the core team of teachers would reach a level of self-sufficiency where they could set up a classroom, plan their teaching effectively, handle parents…and most importantly, keep the momentum going. They needed to be prepared enough to take new people into their fold. The other important thing was being able to find the right people to step in as School Principal and Curriculum coordinator at the end of our time here. We have managed to do this quite successfully, I think. Rajesh (Major Rajesh Ranjit, newly appointed Principal of Pushp Niketan) and Nisha are extremely enthusiastic.
You handed over charge to them in November 2006. What do you see as the greatest challenges they will face? The school is growing, and there is going to be a continuous need for quality teachers. As of now, only three or four teachers out of the team of nine are locals. It isn’t practical to bring teachers in from other cities indefinitely. The school will need to train local talent as teachers. They also need about hundred more admissions to make the school financially viable.
School as the cultural heart of the town……
Major Rajesh Ranjit and his wife Nisha are the Principal and Curriculum Leader, respectively.
Short service commission in the Indian Army, then a couple of ‘five star’ schools in Bangalore and Delhi. How did Dhampur happen? We both have a background in alternative education, Nisha was teaching at a Progressive school near Bangalore. The other stints were for experience and exposure. The long-term plan was always to get back to meaningful grass-root level education. The Pushp Niketan assignment is a dream come true.
What do you both aspire to do with the school? We plan to bring in high-quality thematic/ inquiry based child-centered progressive education methodologies to small towns and rural settings. Pushp Niketan is our pilot venture.
You have been here for around a month now. What does it feel like? It feels like we have been here a lot longer. Things and people seem so familiar. It’s amazing to work in a small set-up where there is so little bureaucracy involved. There are nine teachers here apart from Nisha and I, and we work in school all day, take a short break in the afternoon, and get back together to talk about school again. No one treats it like a job!
The place is abuzz with activity… Yes. We have a cultural program here tonight. A dance recital by Nisha, a sitar, odissi dance, tabla and gazal singing performance by some musician friends from Delhi. The event is open to parents and the public. We plan to do these things as often as we can.
Is it to expose the public to new art forms? Not just that. It’s also to enrich our lives and create a feeling of camaraderie and oneness with the school amongst more people than just the children who come here in the day time. We would like the school to be like a cultural heart of the town, where everyone comes together and create opportunities to mutually enrich lives.
What do you see as the biggest immediate challenge in front of you? Striking a balance between providing children an education that is progressive even as it enables them to take on real-life challenges. Not everyone comes from a wealthy home with a family business to fall back on. These children are going to have to go and take common entrance exams and compete with children from mainstream schools for seats in professional colleges. They need to be ready for that, and we owe that much to the parents.
On the administrative front, we are planning to convert the old go down next to the school (see photo) into residential facility for students who have to travel large distances to get to school.
How do you plan to address the needs of teachers not familiar with enquiry-based learning? And what about teacher development plans? We have initiated a small-scale training institute with a view to induct local teachers into the school and also to continue training the in-service teachers. Also in the pipeline is a small-scale English institute, and a resource pool of people who will visit Dhampur to conduct workshops and share expertise. We’d like them to meet as many people from outside Dhampur as possible!
As told to Luke Haokip and Amrutha Patil who have published this article in a quarterly magazine called Mind fields, co-sponsored by an organization called idiscoveri, who excel in the field of teacher education and school leadership programme. Ms.Nisha and Major Rajesh Ranjit have been selected by a team of idiscoveri professionals to lead the School Pushp Niketan.
Vision Over a period of two years:
1. Initially establish a Teacher training institute in a very small scale, with a view to induct local teachers into the school and thus generate employment and awareness. Identify potential candidates, train them and increase the human resource of the town.
2. Start an English Institute parallel to the Teacher Training Institute, again at a very small scale initially. Later on turn this into a discussion and action forum for the youth of Dhampur and nearby villages. It can be turned into a club/association for various activities.
3. Build a pool of resource people to associate with the growth of the school by way of conducting workshops. Identify non commercial, small players in the field of yoga, meditation, art, music, dance, drama, sports, academics etc and invite them to enrich the lives of students, teachers, parents and the community at large when needed.
4. Network with NGOs to work on community development projects, with the school teachers and other local people as representatives.
5. Involve the staff of the Sugar mill in the education process of the school and in community development in some way or the other by gaining their good will. Also involve the parents in the education process.
6. Try and bring about some changes in the mind set of people to look at education as a serious affair for boys and girls and also to understand the effectiveness of child centered methodology along with inquiry, thematic and project based learning. Bring about gender sensitivity and equality.
7. Study the feasibility of opening schools at other places of interest and slowly plan the process, capitalizing on the success gained at Dhampur. Meet potential teachers there and set a forum for interested stake holders.
8. Develop a vocational training centre with job oriented courses as the main feature.
9. Establish a model school and invite educationists and others interested to learn, take up research and share resources.
10. Build a team of self motivated teachers, who would work on their own and come up with innovative and creative ideas to improve the school and community.
11. Study and understand issues in the nearby villages related to education, gender, caste/class, political affiliations, culture, employment generation, downtrodden/poor, social factors. Identify any emerging trends in education and employment.
In the field of English Language teaching, Book Publishing/Production, Photography, Communication skills, Sports & Games, Teacher training, Curriculum Development, Music, Dance, Art and Craft. In the process, we would like to give potential volunteers from India and abroad a safe and rich platform to pursue their interest and learn from diverse communities and cultures in villages and rural India.
Furnished accommodation, family atmosphere, transportation to/from the airport on arrival and departure, local transportation in the town, medical facilities available at the sugar mill, domestic help, computer and internet facility (in school). For more information, contact:
Major Rajesh Ranjit. Principal, Pushp Niketan School. The Dhampur Sugar Mills campus. Dhampur, Bijnor Dist, UP-246761, India Phone: +91-9690005758, +91-1344-220179.
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Experienced gained in the present position as the Principal of Pushp Niketan School, Dhampur:
• Played a pivotal role in developing confidence in the hearts and minds of the people of the town Dhampur, regarding the quality of the School and thus making the mission and purpose of the School stronger. This was done quite consciously by employing various techniques of direct interactions with Parents of the Students and Parents of prospective students, informal meetings and talks with people in the community.
• Gained core competence in handling the entire gamut of operations related to design of academic procedures and programmes along with the Curriculum Leader and analysing and solving design related problems in the field of education, thereby improving the academic standards and quality of the School. In the process of management, became adept in designing internal controls and quality audit checks and budgeting, reviewing existing systems & procedures for various areas & verification of operational efficiency levels in the School.
• Gathered extensive experience in managing operations of the School with demonstrated leadership qualities, conceptualizing and effectuating measures/modifications in the standard operating procedures to optimise resource & capacity utilization.
• Helped Develop an environment that inspires high level of motivation and commitment, in the School and developed expertise in aligning the teachers and other staff with core objectives of the School to harmonise common goals and objectives. Gained expertise in developing, managing and monitoring the performance of multi-skilled work force and conceptualising training programs for their overall career development.
• Actively involved in development of curriculum, planning of activities, coordinating between teams, utilizing several shared infrastructural resources of DSM Ltd. and thus ensuring the smooth running of the daily affairs of the School.
• Gained rich and dynamic experience in Human Resource Management & Development in the School. Displayed and developed excellent skills in team building, organisation ethos building, and organisational change and in planning and managing operations involving decision making, information management, problem-solving, project and program planning, resource management, and monitoring.
• Developed effective communication procedures with excellent relationship management skills and strong analytical, challenge oriented, problem solving & organisational abilities.
• Handled the functions of Logistics, Procurement, Inventory Control, Maintenance, and Transportation, efficiently.
• Carried out effective volunteer tracking, recruitment and management. This includes foreign volunteers.
• Taught English to grade 4 & 5 students and social studies to grade 6 and gained first hand experience of the teaching-learning process.
• Helped in providing an organised structure to the processes and activities of the Sports complex of the Company.
• Visualised and planned the setting up and running of six training institutes including Retail management, Sales, Soft skills, Communication skills (including Accent and voice training), Interior decoration, Fashion/ Jewellery design, Computers (hardware and software) training courses.
Feedback & Notes from my WikiNeighbours
(: Your work sounds amazing, Rajesh! I would so love to see your school in action. Do you encounter criticism from the more conservative educators? Thanks for emailing the Word version. --Helenm5 23:55, 29 August 2009 (UTC))
(: Wow, excellent work.--Nellie Deutsch 01:11, 30 August 2009 (UTC)) (: Hi. I'm Dorothy from Mauritius. Happy to have you in the team. You have been a very active person in the field of teaching and learning. Great work.--Dorothy 12:01, 2 September 2009 (UTC))
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