The Colloquium on Education Series started in 2013 as a platform to share the educational approach practiced at Sri Adwayananda Public School since 1987 and to invite the insights of innovative thought leaders. This year we had an accomplished and inspiring panel from around the globe.
Colloquium Guests and Organisers from Inaugural Session
Over the years, our school community has welcomed guests from the: USA, Europe, India, and Asia.
The 2019 guests included:
Dr. Anne Stillman – Professor, University of Cambridge, England
Mr. Arun Krishnamurthy – Founder, Environmentalist Foundation of India
Monsieur Didier Cadau – Educator and Partner with Chef Michel Basaldella
Mrs. Hélène Danel – Vice Présidente Communauté de Communes Blavet Bellevue Océan
Mr. Ravi Sinha – Head of HR Decathlon, India
Mr. Kunal Dhanwant – Recruitment & Learning Leader at Decathlon
The opening ceremony of the Seventh International Colloquium commenced with a prayer by the 12th standard students of Sri Adwayananda Public School.
The Welcome Address for the Seventh International Colloquium on Education was given by Dr. Suzanne Buckley
Dr. Buckley is the General Secretary and Treasurer of Alliance Educational Foundation.
She described how the school is named after the great Sage Sri Adwayananda and aspires to give a quality education in an environment that encourages active learning and exploration, enjoyment in the process of learning and the freedom to express one’s own individual questions.
She acknowledged the contributions of the school community toward recovery from the 2018 floods and also spoke of the school’s current affiliation process with the Cambridge International Programme, which will strengthen efforts aimed at developing a higher standard of academic excellence that fosters improved thinking skills.
She also referenced the origin of the Colloquium in 2013 in an effort to build a network of partnerships around a common goal—excellence in education—and how the school has benefitted from dialogue with guests from all walks of life in this endeavor.
Dr. Buckley then welcomed the guest speakers of the Inaugural Session.
The Inaugural Address was delivered by Dr. Anne Stillman
Professor Stillman is a lecturer in English at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, who teaches courses in Poetry, Practical Criticism and Shakespeare.
She also serves as the Cambridge Teacher Support Coordinator for Sri Adwayananda Public School.
Dr. Stillman talked about aspects of the “Cambridge ethos” connected to the transition the school is undergoing from an old syllabus to the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education).
She explained that, using this ethos, the word “colloquium” means conversation or dialogue—“com” means together, “loquium” means speaking—so inside this word we can apprehend the presence of companionship and can hear many voices.
She used a musical analogy, comparing “colloquium” to a piece of music comprised of different tones, pitches, instruments or singing voices coming together and making a new world with both dissonance and harmony, but when it unfolds it becomes a whole.
Another vital aspect of this ethos gained through her teaching practice at Cambridge was the “close reading” of poetry. She read a poem of Emily Dickinson to show the importance of “close reading”.
Dr. Stillman then spoke of the havoc of the Kerala floods of 2018 in the community and the loss of the school library, but stated that even though the library was damaged, the power of reading remains intact. She then chose an Emily Dickinson poem that urged us to imagine how the school’s library can be full again.
She concluded her address by quoting a T.S. Eliot poem “Little Gidding”.
A Special Address was given by Mr. Arun Krishnamurthy
Mr. Krishnamurthy is the founder of the Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), who has been awarded the Jane Goodall Institute Global Youth Leadership Award and the British Council International Climate Champion Excellence Award.
Mr. Krishnamurthy began by saying he was fascinated by Kerala. He has researched Kerala culture, her many beautiful rivers, their sources, and her ecology, saying that India has the widest variety of species in the world. But despite Kerala’s renowned 100% literacy rate, many people are ignorant of nature, and unaware of how they should live with it in harmony.
For the 2018 floods, people blamed the government, but also blame them when there is a drought. This clearly shows that the citizens know little about the rivers and dams, and for the first time they realized they must do something about Kerala’s environmental issues.
He explained the necessity for cleaning up the rivers of India and simple ways for the whole population to become involved. He wants to create a dutiful, beautiful and responsible India, and stressed that we need the planet more than she needs us.
Mr. Krishnamurthy concluded with two short videos, one showing a young boy, and one an old asthmatic woman, who had each been motivated to clean up their local rivers themselves.
A Special Address was given by Monsieur Didier Cadau
Mr. Cadau is an international businessman and specialized educator, who, in partnership with the Italian-French chef, Michel Basaldella, is creating a cuisine school in Mumbai.
He is also simultaneously overseeing educational, medical and economic projects, which have helped disadvantaged sectors of society.
He likened a child to a diamond, something rare and precious to be shaped with patience, since children are our future, and it is the responsibility of adults to build a sustainable future for them. But he emphasized that children need to be challenged and given proper encouragement to be able to rise to a responsible and flourishing adulthood.
Mr. Cadau is currently building a school where young adults will be able to study hotel-school management in a truly hands-on way, giving them vocational training through cooking.
Mr. Chandan Keerthi, one of the distinguished guests, was invited by Mr. Cadau. Mr. Keerthi is a Leadership Advisor for Strategic Investments Alliances & Planning, and Founder of Bcube Consulting in Singapore.
Mr. Keerthi joined Mr. Cadau in speaking about the cuisine school they will be creating for aspiring chefs. Their students will also study the problem of plastic food packaging and learn how food impacts our health.
Mr. Cadau said we must also strive to preserve the dignity and livelihood of farmers whose situation in many states is extremely precarious at the moment.
He also stressed how challenging it is for women in some areas when their skills (sewing, for example) are not being properly commercialized to their benefit. Mr. Cadau concluded by saying these sustainability projects would vastly improve people’s lives.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Mrs. Suzanne Nash
Mrs. Nash is on the Board of Directors of the Alliance Educational Foundation Supporters, USA. This concluded the Inaugural Session.
Session I: Presentation of the Colloquium Theme Discussion
This session began with an introduction of how the concept of the Colloquium arose after the 25th anniversary of the school, and a brief explanation of how the school came into being with only seven students.
The idea was to have a school with the focus being where children experience more the happiness of learning; having freedom to explore; experience active learning with spontaneous activities and individual learning through expo projects, and building confidence through teachers’ support.
Dr. Suzanne Buckley then described how the school is presently in the process of transitioning to the IGCSE syllabus (International General Certificate of Secondary Education), which is the international board under the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
The Cambridge syllabus’ international standard, which is respected all over the world, is better for the children, as it helps them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
A wide-ranging question and answer session followed about the school with distinguished guests, teachers, and administrators participating.
It was learned that:
The school has a strength of around 15-20 students per class.
In the past, children have commuted from the wider area as far as Cochin, because there is not a similar school in their vicinity.
The school population represents families from all sections of society.
Another topic discussed in this section was: “How can we create a sense of social responsibility in the child’s mind?”.
Guests and organizers expressed the following :
The child should learn from experience.
The teacher should have curiosity and imagination when dealing with students.
Teachers give power to students through conversation and project-based learning.
Knowledge should be imparted through trust.
Teachers will plan projects but students may take the activities in a different direction, which the teachers need to be open to exploring.
Children need to have the skills of communication, social responsibility, and care for nature, which can help them become leaders and problem-solvers.
An open environment is best for learning.
Children should be challenged and encouraged to express themselves.
There should be a holistic approach to teaching.
The teacher should be trained so that the children use their five senses to understand.
Parents should be made aware of the goals of the school.
In this school, teachers join the child in his activities, and should model positivity and good behavior through learning themes and experiences.
A subsequent discussion was held regarding how to make known the school’s presence and what we are doing globally.
Ideas suggested included:
inviting other schools,
partnership with other sectors,
association with resource people,
communicating through alumni and other groups.
Session II: Alumni-Teacher Interaction Session
In this session, alumni and teachers shared with the distinguished guests their experience of how the school impacted them as students and later in their professional life.
At the beginning of the session, one alumna expressed her gratitude to her teachers, and said she still wonders how she learned concepts with such ease that she didn’t even realize she was learning them. She joined in 4th standard from a Malayalam-medium school, and was anxious at first because she spoke very little English. But the teachers gave her a sense of security and encouraged her to speak English.
She explained how one of her teachers conducted debates to enhance communicative English. Another teacher shared how poetry must be connected to life and experiences.
The alumna compared her previous school where she felt the children never got first-hand experience. In Sri Adwayananda Public School the children were allowed to decide whether to play or to be inside in a classroom. The choice was theirs. There was something to learn in every activity.
One guest asked how the teachers assessed the learning of the child. Teachers explained that the teachers did evaluate them, but did not give marks.
One of the teachers described Exam Fest, where children framed their own questions and placed them in a box for other students and teachers to answer. This annual event has become a tradition of the school and introduces exams in a welcoming, enjoyable manner.
The teachers in the session remembered the alumna as an enthusiastic and receptive child, while in turn, she recalled the joy of performing and not being judged. She shared that in college she did not get the same encouragement, and as a result, had a bit of difficulty transitioning. But because of her confidence gained from her primary school, she was able to overcome it.
One of her college teachers, in fact, recognized her talent for teaching. The alumna, who is now a teacher herself, and was asked if she has been able to apply any of the skills she had acquired from this school in her own teaching. She replied that in her class of 50 students, this method is not applicable. However, she did apply the invaluable method of always supporting or nurturing the student.
Cultural Programme by alumni and students
An alumna and students presented several classical Bharatanatyam dances, and the 9th standard students presented a group song. The programme concluded with a boat song, Valla Pattu, presented by high school boys, staff and teachers.
Students, teachers and staff sing the traditional Boat Song sung on the boats during the Onam Festival every year
Discussion on Circular Economy with Mrs. Hélène Danel & teachers
Mrs. Danel met with the High School teachers on the topic of the circular economy (recycling) as an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose).
The Circular Economy ethos is to have no waste and no use of toxic materials. Keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.
Biomimicry invites us to also be inspired by nature. An example was given based on termite mounds that are able to maintain a cool temperature inside and how this was adapted by engineers in Zimbabwe to their building construction.
A video was shown in which the KG children of a school in Britanny, France, express their own thoughts about saving our planet, as well as a slide presentation on circular economy’s positive impacts. The teachers asked questions and a lengthy discussion developed.
Workshop with 8th and 9th standard students with Dr. Anne Stillman
Students crowd around Professor Anne Stillman during her poetry workshop
Dr. Stillman presented the children three poems and they were asked to share their ideas and thoughts on the theme of “The Miniature” in literature.
She gave them three very short poems to read and asked their reactions. One of these, a shape poem, was quickly deciphered by the children, which delighted Dr. Stillman. The children were also able to grasp the concept of “close reading”.
They were then divided into groups and asked to come up with their own poetry. All the groups presented their poems to Dr. Stillman before the session concluded.
Evening Cultural Programme – A cultural programme performance for all Colloquium participants, students, parents, and alumni was presented by the “Ragamalika School of Dance and Music”.
Session III: Parents’ Perspective Session
Panel Discussion with Parents, Alumni, Guests and Teachers
Moderators: Mrs. Tarla Nanavati, Principal, Sri Adwayananda Public School (English-medium); Dr. Suzanne Buckley, Alliance Educational Foundation
Three sets of parents and three alumni attended this session.
The session commenced with questions addressed to the parents and their replies.
Parents and alumni share their experiences
QUESTION #1: What is your aim when you look for education for your children?
Children can develop self-sufficiency because of the school’s approach.
Their children had many learning options and the freedom to explore them.
Parents were not interested in lucrative jobs and never opted for them. They wanted their children to be good human beings and have high values.
During the 2018 flood, the alumni joined together and created a fundraiser for the school which was a helping hand in rebuilding from the event, which demonstrated their sense of social responsibility.
QUESTION #2: What were your expectations, and the doubts and difficulties you faced while experiencing this type of schooling?
Initially parents were anxious but gradually built up confidence in the system through different sessions with the teachers and management. In course of time, the children recognized it was their own responsibility to progress.
One alumnus said that he was surprised when he joined the school and saw there were no uniforms, no structured assembly, and no particular classroom structure. His first day at the school, he spent cycling around the campus. It was a mesmerizing experience for him, and the school felt like a family.
In regular schools, students can be stressed out with their parents also under pressure. In this system, the learning plan is different for each child.
QUESTION #3: How has the experiential learning helped you in your other walks of life?
Parents understood and supported the school philosophy and worked accordingly. Though the children had to cover a difficult syllabus, they were able to perform well in exams. There was no competition among them; instead they competed with themselves, which helped them in continuous self-improvement.
One parent recalled an instance where she got an idea about the school’s activities when her young child unknowingly suggested a solution. The child had noticed there was too much firewood in the hearth and suggested to his mother to remove some so as to permit oxygen supply for the burning.
Another example given was how their child learned about dinosaurs that were herbivores by listening to music being played in the library.
QUESTION #4: What is the role of exams in your family life?
Neither parents nor children were scared of taking exams or their results.
Even in this system the children secured high marks, which was surprising for their relatives and neighbors. There was no comparison among children by any teacher. Children had no pressure and developed a helping attitude.
When the children were ready to learn, the teachers were there to help them.
Session IV: Revisiting Big Activities Session
Presented by teachers who are also alumni of the school
This presentation gave visitors first-hand experience of how activities are conducted in the school through an interactive walk-through, one of the recurring Big Theme projects that teachers and students create from time to time in the Lower Primary section. In this example, the classroom was decorated to look like an underwater scene – the Great Barrier Reef. At the door, guests were given mock passports with their pictures and a brief bio data, and were shown how children would use a paper airplane to track their route on a large world map – starting from Cairns, a city right near the Great Barrier Reef.
During the walk-through the guests viewed a model of scuba diving gear that the children had made. The next stop was the Magic School Bus Submarine where guests saw how teachers used worksheets to introduce what sonar measurement is and tie it to a mathematics worksheet. A periscope was incorporated into the submarine along with a worksheet that visually explained how light hits the mirrors inside a periscope so that we are able to see through it.A display of the ocean floor allowed guests to see how children could actually touch and feel all different types of shells and learn the names of them.
The ‘Fishing for Numbers’ section showed how teachers would incorporate math into the activity. A fishing rod with a magnet on the end was used to ‘catch’ fish cards with simple addition and subtraction problems on the back. Guests were then shown how collective nouns could be introduced to children with a worksheet that required children to search around the room for the collective noun used for various groups of sea animals.
The last stop was a display of library books that were all related to the ocean. Outside the room were several large photographs of other Big Theme activities that have been done over the years.
Session V: Partnership and Opportunities
Panel Discussion with Guests and Organisers
Moderators: Ms. Asha Nanavati, Organising Secretary for the Colloquium and Mrs. Suzanne Pitman, President, AEF Supporters, USA
With all the guests and organizers attending moderator Ms. Asha Nanavati explained the sub-theme of the Colloquium, “Partnership and Opportunities.”Since the creation of the Foundation, productive partnerships have enabled the foundation to grow stronger as an institution. The purpose of the session was to discuss exactly what partnerships meant to each person present.
Mrs. Suzanne Pitman, who was co-moderating the session, talked about the association with Clonlara School (Michigan, USA), the alternative syllabus it offers for the students, as well as the opportunity it affords to students wishing to pursue their higher studies abroad. In 1999, the Clonlara diploma was introduced into the school, with 36 graduates so far. The Clonlara diploma is equivalent to the Plus Two (12th standard) qualification of the Indian boards for admission to higher studies in India. The graduates who have chosen this alternative have entered an array of fields, such as fashion designer, chef and photographer.
Dr. Suzanne Buckley spoke about the Big History project co-founded by Bill Gates and Professor David Christian. Sri Adwayananda Public School was the second school in India to adopt the Big History programme in 2015, which still continues for the 8th standard. She showed a large wall poster of the periodic table of the elements in the conference room, which had been entirely done by the students.
Mrs. Molly Seeligson expounded on the benefits of a values-based education and how her school in the USA puts the accent on developing confidence in the students rather than rote learning.
Mr. Kunal Dhanwantfrom Decathlon, said that having a partnership with the school and inviting interns was targeted at closing the gap between the learning and working environments.He said two batches of students have come in with a lot of energy and were able to complete the circle which they had started in the school.The students had lots of questions and he was surprised at how prepared they appeared. He added that after having seen how the children learned here through the walk-through Big Activity, he could understand the source of their energy and understanding.
Mr. Ravi Sinha, from the Human Resources Department of Decathlon, spoke about how the students from the school who had been with Decathlon for internships had shown him how the culture of freedom-in-learning, as practiced at the school, had extremely positive results. During these 3-4 days of internship, the students had risen to the occasion and had influenced his perspective on hiring new staff at Decathlon. He mentioned the “soft skills”, which are usually so lacking when recruiting new employees.
Skills such as :
Making something from nothing / Doing something with nothing
Aptitude for learning
He said these students would be welcome to return to Decathlon for extended internships, and added that internship can be converted into employability. He said that in their annual HR budget, they have included the budget for bringing in students from here. The culture of the interns resonates with what Decathlon stands for and shows the synergy of our values.
Monsieur Didier Cadau said that in partnership, we also need to balance things. It is important both what one brings and what one takes back. People may bring in more money, but less value.
Mr. Chandan Keerthi, Leadership Advisor, Strategic Investments Alliances & Planning, said they were planning to start a school and would take students who are interested as interns. They would help students enrich their knowledge through hands-on experience. He was interested in our plans for scaling. They wanted a school that would take up concepts that include vertical farming and solution partnership in their growth plan.
Mrs. Helene Danel said that partnership means changing practices. To implement circular economy for the school we would need to look at long-term plans. Businesses are looking to change their practices, and they may be very interested by a special school like this to help them change. We should be able to be proud of what we do, value our products. She added that people may like to associate with us and bring in a lot of money, but they might have policies that we can’t agree with.She said that businesses would no doubt welcome the opportunity to show what they can do in a given context and that we should be looking for mutual benefit. Mr. Cooksey agreed we need to be very careful when circular economy is used, and products should be selected very carefully; they may seem non-toxic, but may be harmful.
Dr. Anne Stillman said that Cambridge is a brand that propagates itself. Ethical human partnership is better than institutional partnership. She also added that we should think of adding a student and teacher exchange programme.
Ms. Asha Nanavati spoke of plans to associate with UNESCO. The school has submitted an application to be considered as an ASPNET school (the UNESCO Associated Schools Network), given UNESCO’s support of the Colloquium series and continued interest in the school.
It was also mentioned that several guests from 2018 had formed a work group around a LinkedIn platform thus giving continued professional advice to support the school’s Circular Economy project in the domains of architecture, fundraising, and economy.
Concluding, there was a video presentation from Ms. Chandra M. Nicol, executive director, Clonlara School, who expressed her regret for not being able to attend Colloquium 2019. She presented the long and fruitful partnership with the school since 2005.
Student Session on Circular Economy with Mrs. Helene Danel
Workshop for 10th and 12th standard students
Mrs. Helene Danel began by showing a video on protecting every element of the earth through a French poem.
Then she started the workshop with the following central question:
“How can we make the world a better place to live in?”
Ms. Helene Danel with 12th standard students during the Circular Economy Workshop
Mrs. Danel said that over nearly 40 years, there have been great initiatives to stop climate change, to reverse the loss of biodiversity, and to cut our use of resources, but this green economy, for all its merits, does not respond to the basic needs of the people. Most of the time it is only for those who can afford it.
We must transform the logic behind this by looking at nature as a source of inspiration. We must start an optimistic way of thinking based on ideas of regeneration and cycles of materials, energy, and biological flows so that the world gets better through continuous improvement.
Mrs. Danel talked about her project of building a new school, the aim being to try as far as possible to have a positive impact on people and the environment.
She presented a slide show that gave a better understanding on the concept of circular economy and sustenance of nature.
The highlights were:
Linear economy is cradle to grave, but circular economy is cradle to cradle (C2C).
It is not to re-cycle a product but to ‘up-cycle’ the resources used to manufacture the product without losing their initial properties.
Right designing is important to have control over a product over its entire lifecycle.
Gradually optimize positive impact and reduce negative impact.
Set high goals and start working on a small scale.
Collective intelligence in implementing a project would be required.
Buildings should be made in such a way that they can be deconstructed and all the materials be up-cycled.
A question and answer session followed where students, teachers and parents further clarified the concepts she shared during her workshop. When asked how we could implement circular economy in a large country like India, she advised that the change should happen both at micro and macro levels. If we keep thinking about a change or a policy to be implemented from the government, it would take a long time; instead we should individually start changing the things around us.
Evening Cultural Program
The day concluded with a cultural programme of Sopanalasyam – a combination of dance, instrumental and vocal music performed by Mrs. Anupama Menon and Mr. Neelamperoor Suresh Kumar.
Presentation on Learning from Partnership
A member of the foundation presented our partnership with Clonlara. Since 2005, students in Sri Adwayananda Public School have been able to earn a US high school diploma by attending the school’s classes.
This arrangement has helped more than 30 alumni to add courses that are not in the regular school curriculum and to gain credit for self-developed skills and expertise. The project-based curriculum also has suited many students who enjoy hands-on activities and work.
In this session, the alumni and students who had participated in the Decathlon internships and professional workshops since 2016, took turns in describing their experience as trainees at Decathlon through slide shows, videos and informal speeches.
With palpable enthusiasm each alumni made it very clear that the experience had been of vast benefit to their next level of learning in university. Their internships had been informative and relevant to their further studies but they had all also derived great enjoyment from the extracurricular-internship activities, such as horse-riding! The business environment of Decathlon and the practical role-playing, acting in turn as employee or customer, had greatly benefited each of the alumni.
Valedictory Address by Mr. Ravi Sinha of Decathlon India at the Closing Ceremony
One alumnus noted that it was a memorable experience he carried through his university years. Another alumna now studying BCom logistics elaborated on its application to her field, saying that through the warehousing internship she was able to see the practical application of logistics.
Another alumna who had done the three-day internship in Bangalore described the excellence of the marketing strategy and how a customer gets a “hands-on” experience of the product. She added that they were struck by how enthusiastic and passionate the Decathlon employees are.
Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education)
A senior teacher who had taken a recent training workshop with Cambridge IGCSE explained how this curriculum is a knowledge and skills-based learning syllabus which trains children to develop analytical and problem-solving skills rather than focusing on rote learning and memorization.
She stressed that the teachers have to guide the children and help them understand from the outset how the Cambridge syllabus is relevant to their lives.
The session ended with thanks and special mention of Ms. Chandra Montgomery Nicol, Executive Director of the Clonlara School; Dr. Anne Stillman, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge; and Mr. Ravi Sinha, Decathlon, India.
Session VI: Teachers Perspective
Current and retired teachers from the school presented and shared their experience to guests via a Q&A session.
After hearing in previous sessions from alumni and parents, one of the guests asked, how does the transformation of learning happen in a child? What is the magic behind it?
The teachers shared their enlightening responses:
One senior teacher explained that it is basically the teacher-child relationship and the openness of the child to the teacher. After six-to-seven years of being with the child, the teacher knows the needs of the child and how to best tackle them.
Even as adults students call their teachers to help solve their problems as a bridge of trust has been made between them.
Another teacher narrated her experience about how she coaxed a reluctant child to read and cultivated his interest by creating stories with him and his friends as characters in the story.
Another teacher elaborated on building a relationship and developing trust and a bond with the students. She noted how training happened in the school from the lower primary to the high school where trainees are taught by and paired with senior teachers.
Mr. Kunal Dhanwant was intrigued by the innovative ideas and technique of teaching in the school, and asked how the teachers share their daily experiences and find solutions to any dilemmas they have had with the children that day.
A senior teacher replied that after the regular classes, teachers daily get time for planning activities, and there is collaboration among teachers to find solutions for any problems faced on that day.
Dr. Anne Stillman noted that learning is fragile and it should happen at the right moment.
Mr. Ravi Sinha compared school with the corporate world and wondered how to work with emotions. When a person invests a lot of himself in his work, how do you deal with it? He wanted to know how the teachers balance their home life and work life.
Teachers replied that they have gained patience through the training and apply the same attitude at home. Mr. Sinha also asked why most teachers are women—is it because of their natural qualities of empathy, care, love and trust?
The teachers cited time flexibility as well as teaching being an added financial support to the family.
Day 3 – Results of Mr. Keerthi’s Data Analysis of Valedictory audience
Monsieur Cadau suggested that he would share a reference for recruiting male teachers whom he had used for his educational projects.
Mr. Sinha advised the school to have an internship, so that we can inspire this generation to become teachers. It was suggested to have a structured internship course for alumni for a six-month duration.
Nevertheless, it was pointed out that as with shorter-term internships children get attached to the interns quickly and when they leave they feel sad. For this reason, though internships have been tried, they have been discontinued.
Mrs. Suzie Nash asked how they dealt with parents who have high expectations.
Teachers replied that once they understand the child’s problem, they work with the parents and seek their support in offering a solution.
Ravi Sinha wanted to know how they assessed the child, whether they had a tool for assessment.
Mrs. Tarla Nanavati explained that assessment is done on a regular basis by all the teachers. Observations are written and compiled in the form of a report.
Since the teacher knows the child, they address the skills to be developed in the child in areas of:
Alumni Cultural Programme
A cultural dance programme, classical song presentation and violin performance was offered by alumni for the guests and school community in the afternoon.
Session VII: Conclusions from the Colloquium and Feedback Session
Mrs. Molly Seeligson, Mrs. Suzie Nash, and Mr. Anthony Cooksey were moderators of the session. The focus was on what participants felt had worked during the Colloquium, and how it could be even better.Mr. Anthony Cooksey grouped participants into three groups to identify and discuss different areas of opportunity for the school:
1) Decathlon Group
The Decathlon group came up with ideas for adding sports and Physical Education for students. Among points discussed were contacting an external organisation (called Leapstart) that helps develop sports curriculum in schools,and paid internship opportunities in Decathlon stores for longer periods where students could be exposed to various fields including CRM, Marketing, Finance etc.
Decathlon also organises Annual Days at their stores. This could be of interest for the school at the store in Kottayam. Also inspirational workshops could be planned during the year, exposing students to different sports presented by a Decathlon employee. Mr. Sinha will discuss these workshops with Decathlon leaders in Kerala and look into a schedule. Mrs. Suzanne Nash noted that the values in this school are enriched by sports.
2) Cambridge Group
The Cambridge group spoke about the goal of integrating the school with the Cambridge ethos. A key step will be the accreditation this upcoming year with IGCSE and it was suggested to call other IGCSE schools to ask them about their experience. The discussion also focused on what Cambridge wants as best practices from this school.
The timeline and budget were discussed for renovation of infrastructure by December 2019 and an affiliation inspection by January 2020.
Dr. Anne Stillman suggested that there was a large community of Indians at Cambridge University whom she could try to contact. She also said how the story of the school’s affiliation to the Cambridge programme is a wonderful story which would be of interest to the Cambridge Board.
3) Circular Economy
Mr. Chandan Keerthi spoke for the Circular Economy group. One idea discussed was a proposed vegetable garden which would eventually supply produce for the school kitchen. The timeline for the vegetable garden could be three months after identifying suitable location, crops, identifying people willing to work on this and getting local expert advice.
Another project noted was remodeling the High School campus based on Circular Economy principles, where the timeline would be three to five years. Initial steps would be to define the project, elaborate a proposal, and find funding. Alumni pursuing architectural studies could be asked to join and gain training through this exercise.
Efficiency parameters need to be looked into as each project is based on the local resources and environment. A library could be set up with books on Circular Economy for reference. A suggestion also came for creating an alumni fund where minimum criteria would need to be agreed upon.
Monsieur Cadau emphasized that commitments should be made so that all the wonderful ideas put forth in this Colloquium should be implemented and not just remain as subjects for discussion, which led to
4) Added Section: School Library Replacement Needed After Flood Damage
Monsieur Cadau and other Colloquium organisers had noticed that the school bookshelves were practically empty due to the flood. He offered to organize a collection point in major cities for books and to contact large-scale booksellers.
Mr. Ravi Sinha said that we should try and start this collection firstly from his Kerala Decathlon stores before attempting to spread the collection effort outside the State. He also said a collection point could be established in Decathlon premises in Kerala.
Dr. Stillman raised the possibility of books being available in the UK from libraries in Cambridge University.
Monsieur Cadau referred to a friend whom he could approach for shipping as many as 100 kilograms of books from the UK.
Anthony Cooksey mentioned that a LinkedIn group should be set up for this purpose where we can post updates of events and others can join. There can be administrators for the main group, and sub-groups.
Mr Kunal Dhanwant said that we have lots of contacts, professional, friends and people who have themselves a great many contacts, the idea being that this could snowball into a vast number of people getting involved.
Commitments made during this session and circulated following the Colloquium included:
monetary pledges towards library books;
approaching publishers in India, the US and Europe, as well as delivery and distribution of the books;
recruitment contacts for teachers;
introduction to organisations that deal directly with sports curriculum as well as planning inspiration sessions with Decathlon in the upcoming calendar year;
internships opportunities with BCube, Decathlon and the upcoming French cuisine school opening in connection with Chef Basaldella;
Circular economy methods and materials to help formalize a school project;
creation of a vegetable garden, and
fostering contact with friends of Cambridge association in India.
Mrs. Molly Seeligson moderated a feedback session, saying we should define what really worked out well at the Colloquium this year and how we can improve on it next year.
She asked guests to give thought to future participants and give any names to Ms. Asha Nanavati, the Organising Secretary of the Colloquium.
The Valedictory Session began with the School Prayer.
Presented by Mrs. Molly Seeligson; Director Emerita of the McDermott Scholars Programme, University of Texas, Dallas, USA
Mrs. Seeligson welcomed Ms. Helene Danel, Mr. Ravi Sinha, Mr Keerthi Chandan, and Ms. Suzanne Pitman to the stage, as well as welcomed all guests, students, teachers, and visitors in the audience.
She then introduced the speakers:
Presented by Mr. Ravi Sinha; Human Resources, Decathlon India
Mr. Ravi Sinha thanked everyone for inviting his team to the Colloquium. They have a similar purpose, the same culture, so the partnership is wonderful. He said he understood the importance of the teachers’ efforts and being able to prepare the children in this kind of atmosphere.
As he was interacting with the students he could find great confidence and pride in the children to be a part of this organization, which is much more than just a school.
He then talked about parents, and said that it was not easy to send their children to this school. Children are constantly compared with the neighbor’s kids, and he thought the parents were brave. Where most schools are after marks and competition, he thanked the parents for supporting the cause of this innovative organization and its education system.
He appreciated the teachers for their sense of service, benevolence, respect, being good listeners and their humility. There is love and care in the air of this school, he said. There is a great partnership and equilibrium among teachers, students and parents. This approach creates a great sense of duty, and is adding much to the future of our country.
He further highlighted the main theme of the Colloquium—partnership—and quoted, “Alone you go fast and together you go far.” There is no room for selfishness.
Partnership has a win-win-win aspect, but it is not monetary. There is so much for the stakeholders to do, the citizens would benefit, and the environment is benefitted.
He saw that the school is already in partnership with the ecosystem. Nobody is perfect in one aspect; to progress we need to collaborate. Partnership is no longer a choice, it is a necessity… to take care of the environment, to go forward.
Presented by Mr. Keerthi Chandan; Leadership Advisor, Strategic Investments, Alliances and Planning
He began by praising the alumni and students for the clean campus, to the teachers for their work and commitment and for the great thought and cause behind the running of the school. He asked the audience which included alumni, students and teachers to write down their hobbies, what they love or enjoy most about the school, and what they could do in terms of collaborating with the school.
Presented by Mrs. Hélène Danel; Vice President of the Community of Communes, Blavet Bellevue Ocean, Brittany, France
She addressed the audience and expressed her pleasure to be here with everyone in such an incredible school. She said as a parent she would have loved to have her children and grandchildren educated in a school like this, where pleasure combines with education.
After interacting with some of the alumni, parents, students and teachers what really struck her was the way children were able to follow their own path, to explore, to be creative and express their talents. The children do not compete with each other, but collaborate and work together to build on collective intelligence.
The children learn not only the official curriculum, but also good values. In a world that is changing rapidly, they are given the tools to adapt, to solve problems and to find solutions.
She thanked the moderator of the Colloquium for having invited her to share her expertise on Circular Economy, and put forward a question, “How can we make the world a better place for all to live?”
She went on to explain that even after 40 years of initiatives to stop climate change, to reverse biodiversity and to curtail use of resources, still nothing much has happened. She stressed we must change our viewpoint and look to nature for inspiration.
She stated that at present we live in a linear economy, which is often referred to as “cradle to grave.” This means raw materials are used to make things, some are recycled, most thrown away as waste.
Whereas the circular economy is referred to as “cradle to cradle,” birth to re-birth. The the idea of waste no longer exists.
While designing something one should think of how it can be reused or recycled without losing its properties.
She ended her address by quoting William McDonald, co-author of the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things:
“Our goal is a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world with clean air, water, soil and power, economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.”
She concluded by quoting Mahatma Gandhi:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Colloquium Report: Presented by Mrs. Suzanne Pitman
Vote of Thanks: Presented by Ms. Asha Nanavati, Organizing Secretary of the Colloquium