Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Heritage School, Gurgaon: Update



I wrote about The Heritage School, Gurgaon back in 2011, when my elder child had just about started going there. It has now been about 4 years since we've been associated with the school. My younger child has also been going there for 2 years now. So, while I was a little tentative and hopeful in my earlier review, since I hadn't spent enough time with them, I'm now much more convinced that this is a really great choice. I'd go so far as to say that if I ever dream wistfully of leaving Gurgaon and moving to a place with beautiful valleys, meadows, and gently flowing streams, I pause and regret that this would mean I'd have to pull my kids out of Heritage.

Last week, I spent an entire morning at my daughter's "sports day" or, as they call it at Heritage, their "fun field day". That's the thing about this school - they put thought into every single thing they do, and it really shows. A regular sports day (at least when I was growing up) involved parents coming and sitting on all sides of a field and watching their children march past, do some drills, run a series of age appropriate races, and show off some gymnastics. These guys have put an entirely different spin on it - their logic is that at a young age, it's all about having fun on the field, not so much about the discipline of sports. And since kids love to play with their parents and show off to them, why not have parents join in? We spent the day playing all sorts of crazy and fun games with the kids and with each other. It's difficult to say which group had more fun - the kids or the parents!

Another incident I remember that demonstrated how the school thinks, happened last year. Some kids in my son's class damaged a yoga mat they were sitting on while watching a movie in the audio-visual room. It was dark while the movie was on, and there was no way to tell which kids had done the damage. Naturally, the entire class was held responsible. However, instead of simply sending a note asking parents to pitch in to make up for the damage, they wrote to us saying that this is an opportunity to teach kids a lesson in collective responsibility, and also that throwing money at a problem is too easy a solution. So, they had kids collect old newspapers. The class then sold the newspapers and made enough money to buy some lemons. They used these lemons to make lemonade, which they sold at the next parent teacher meeting. They took turns handling the lemonade stall and some kids even were even responsible for marketing the stall! They used the money they collected to replace the damaged yoga mats.

A friend's daughter was learning about seasonal vegetables (or something more specific) last year. Their class was divided into groups and each group chose a couple of seasonal veggies to grow in a patch of land assigned to them. They were responsible for choosing the veggies, planting them, and caring for them. When the veggies were ready to be plucked, the kids organized a vegetable market in school. Teachers shopped for their daily veggies from the kids that day and the kids brought home their share too. The next day, they had a class party where they ate stuff made out of those vegetables. What a wonderful way to learn so many things through an end-to-end experience! I really wish I had been to a school where this level of thought was put into designing instructional experiences for me. I'm sure I'd have an easier time remembering most of my social studies chapters!

There are many such instances. Essentially, I'm really impressed that the act of learning is taken so seriously and every aspect of it designed and executed so well. It's not surprising though, since the faculty and management bring a lot of experience and strong qualifications in education. The people who are thinking about education are educationists, and not pure businessmen, as is often the case in large schools.

There are still doubts and criticisms against the school's learning approach especially in higher classes. Most of them are about either too much sudden pressure in higher classes, or not enough pressure and preparation for real, competitive life in time for college admissions. My kids aren't old enough yet, so I can't write from personal experience. However, I have developed enough trust in the school to know that they will figure it out, even if there are some hiccups along the way. They have the best interest of the kids and the entire education system at heart, and they will get there. In fact, if last year's board results are anything to go by, they are already proving that their system works. In any case, I strongly believe that learning has to be a sensible and enjoyable experience that builds a sense of curiosity, an inquisitive and sensitive mind, and the ability to find joy in the act of discovery and learning. If a school can give my kids that, I know they'll be fine. (For everything else, there's Wikipedia :-))

7 comments:

Kanchan Khera said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I echo the same..brilliant school! They get it very well!

Debosmita Roy said...

Nice post on the brilliant school of Gurgaon. It is also a famous tourist spot and there are various tourists places in Gurgaon which attracts visitors.

videovish said...

Yes. Smriti and Manit are co-parents in Mirambika my daughter's school. I am glad they have put in their Mirambika experience to good use and in fact at a much bigger scale to a mainstream population.

Garima Gulati Bhutani said...

A nice post...enjoyed reading it. Totally agree with the fact that learning should be made interesting, I will not call it fun as the definition of fun in our minds is something without the love of end results but here progress also matters.
There is another great school "Pathways" and one of my colleague's daughters are there.

watsinside said...

Thanks for the blog.. im also a the stage where we r deciding school (well pre-school for now0 but still ur article gives some insight !

Maxim said...

Can you please provide a brief update on how this school helps kids to develop reading habits. I know in every school you get a book and you ought to read it but I rarely see that getting tracked.
Internationally, reading is very important habit that most us should have but I don't see happening in few schools in gurgaon that I have been through. Can you please highlight on that if Heritage is different in that aspect ?

Maxim said...

Can you please provide a brief update on how this school help kids to develop reading habits. I know in every school you get a book and you ought to read it but I rarely see that getting tracked.
Internationally, reading is very important habit that most us should have but I don't see happening in few schools in gurgaon that I have been through. Can you please highlight on that if Heritage is different in that aspect ?