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The New Shape of Education

Prioritising happiness

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Modern schools somewhat sadly have become institutions repeated for turning out children equipped with the skills that may or may not suit some adventure working in industry or the marketplace. There are high rates of dropouts and the most successful students adapt to what may be well called borderline misery.

The most successful school graduates of those who have survived despite being educated and have the natural intelligence to become successful at some endeavour with success being defined as how much money one has.

There seems little doubt that the modern education system which is still something of an experiment has little concern for any sense of happiness and well-being, the focus is on some goal, something external that determines happiness.

Most children as they learn to walk and talk are bundles of happiness and joy yet by the time they have passed through the process of being educated, such happiness and joy is a distant memory if not completely forgotten. The Steiner approach to education was a step in the right direction and the Steiner educational system proved that things can be done differently, children can remain happy and learn.

The founder of an institution bearing his name, Danish Kurani is building on these ideas by creating physical environments in which children can be happy and learn at their own pace. Kurani's team design learning environments to give children the best of available knowledge and technology and one of his projects is Riverbend school to be built in a rural area outside Chennai in India.

The school will be designed like a village around a central Plaza, with learning spaces where instead of memorising, students will work on projects that look for real solutions to modern problems and within that select their own avenues of study. Yet students will also be involved in the school garden, the kitchen, wellness space. This skill will be something of a first for India and a research Institute will study the efficacy of the school and its techniques.

Danish Kurani has a dream to prioritise happiness within education and like Montessori and Steiner, he may do just that. There is a Montessori school by the name of Riverbend in the USA and the information pertaining to the concept for a Riverbend school in Chennai was published in 2018. So far there is no other news about this project and it may be helpful to note the experience the experience of a transformation of Udavai School in Edaiyanchavadi near Pondicherry.

The parents and even the children themselves were very resistant to new ideas and it took some time before the school was transformed. The Riverbend school would unlikely experience the same problems as it would be a residential school for the region's elite.

But it seems apparent that the education system must change and cater as much to happiness and well-being as it does to what children learn about the external world and the manipulation of phenomenon for profits. Another avenue of equal importance is correcting the narrative of history contained in school textbooks because the out of Africa theory is flawed, Alexander the Greek was not a hero and teaching beliefs as truths is child cruelty.

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