Saturday, December 03, 2005


In my blog titled ‘Cultures that taught me’ ( (November 26, 2005), while defining effective learning spaces, I write:
“The cultures that taught me in the city and far off in the forest communicated a common thread. These cultures demanded one’s total attention, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days. These cultures demanded the senses to delve deep beneath the periphery. These cultures demanded silent expression and were predominantly silent. These cultures demanded my time in fullness. These cultures were about subtlety. I am in the midst of another culture. And my leaning continues……”
In another blog entry ‘Text or Context’ ( (November 24, 2005), I say:
“The learning space was characterized by a space where the students could formulate their own questions. This space was about exploring and finding answers for their questions. This space was about voicing their findings in their own way and provide scientific interpretation. Most of the times the students were far off the likelihood answers. But sometimes the students did come close to the answers. For the students such small moments of triumph was enough to push themselves forward, while the teacher moves on with a smile that only the most observant could actually see. More than the time and space for expression, this space was beyond any parameters of motivation. The students who come here, come with a willingness to learn. That is all. The spirit to learn defines this space.”
In a detailed essay on alternative learning spaces Martin, R.A. (2000) has discussed about three key qualities.
These alternatives are flexible and warm learning communities where people come before procedures, rules and technologies
Philosophies rooted in life and learning, thus emphasizing the interdependencies between our world and ourselves
Alternative educational initiatives are rooted in diversity

Most of the above mentioned alternative learning spaces have the three key qualities listed by Robin Martin. At this point, it is important to dwell upon the two central articles, that has guided this essay. Gardner, H. (1999) and Rampal. A. (2000), though differ in the language and its ability to seep through into the reader’s mind, have communicated unequivocally, one BIG message that - ‘effective learning-teaching mechanism’. Both the authors invariably seem to zero-in on the following broad themes:
Emphasis on learning than on teaching
Learning not to be rooted in competition-driven processes
Cultivation and elaboration of multiple learning-teaching strategies
Decentralized processes in the sphere of education
Exploration the key to the growth of learning-teaching process
Exploring themes of interest
Emphasis on concept building and theorizing from exploration rather than memory-commitment-based strategies
Surrounding environment and cultural beliefs – a powerful teacher
Role of elders and peers as equally important as the role of ‘traditional teachers’ of the community
Teaching methods in response to the needs of the culture
Teaching based on continuous reflection
Involvement of non-governmental organizations in the development of curricula and textbook materials
Caring and respectful interactions
Student-friendly resource materials
The overwhelming emphasis on School Vision
The above mentioned attributes are inherent features of all alternate educational initiatives.


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