A day with Maya from the Learning Community

Maya’s day begins around 5:40 in the morning; her daughter has a 6:30 swimming class at La Piscine as part of her Sports Program four times a week which she must shuttle students to and fro. Facilitators at The Learning Community (TLC) begin around 8:10 by cleaning the learning spaces. In TLC great educational value is given to learning to care for one’s own space, therefore no hired help is employed to clean the school s learning environments, all facilitators and students are expected to keep their campus clean. In a lush and open environment like TLC’s Base Camp, visiting dogs, snakes, scorpions, leaves and other critters often find refuge in “The Lab” which Maya maintains. The Lab is a covered yet open area with science, history, geography and math materials ranging from language books, Montessori Math pedagogical materials, and materials through which to explore the great stories of the Universe, Life and Humankind.

Facilitating activities in The Lab depend on student interest and developmental needs. This week, for example, older students required more academic support to explore cube roots and square roots. The Methodology used in Integral Education has three main principles; nothing can be taught, the mind has to be consulted in its own growth and work from the near to the far. Maya guides the students in their self exploration of visualizing Math, and deep conversations often emerge, reflecting the student’s individual needs to understand where they are in life and acceptance of self. She is constantly searching for different ways to address and bring forth those inner faculties which the vital being is capable of.

Much of this inner search is supported during the school week with Non Violent Communication (NVC) workshops offered by the Restorative Auroville team, for students, parents and facilitators. Compassionate communication techniques and skills must be acquired and developed by the adults so that they may help and guide the students in their process. Students do the same in the form of Community Gatherings twice a week where the children become the facilitators and bring forward topics to be addressed. Today some children felt that the rule to not ride doubles on the bicycle may have to be reviewed. The collective decision to reflect and amend school rules are an empowering experience…just as much as reflecting on our behaviour and how it affects others which is how most issues are resolved through constructive and compassionate dialogue.

Students and facilitators get to enjoy snack and lunch cooked by the Kitchen/Garden Team composed of children and adults. Today, there was papaya, bread, tahini and lemon grass tea ready for morning snack. Lunch consisted of rice, beans, cucumber salad, red rice idly, sambar, tomato and coconut chutney. The concept is to connect the children to what grown locally and seasonally, and to learn o appreciate these flavours. As much as possible produce is harvested from the Auroville farms and brought to TLC by the students and facilitators on the Kitchen Team. By the way, if you are interested in assisting in this Kitchen Team, TLC is looking for a dedicated assistant volunteer!

Afternoons are usually filled with meetings among facilitators, or other afternoon activities.  On the day of our interview, she shared that today’s meeting was dedicated to creating a research proposal to document the process of assessing Integral Education in TLC. The discussion focused on documenting the process where “magic moments’ which lead to growth taking place. If we can assess the work done with the three principles mentioned earlier, we would be able to better communicate with parents/facilitators and student on their process and progress. Currently, the TLC activities are being filmed daily to provide an “objective observer” perspective. These videos will be used by the facilitators to reflect upon so that they may learn how to develop new skills on how to document Integral Education and share it on a larger scale. The children will be involved in the research project through their weekly reflections, aiming to understand what happens inside of themselves which allows growth to take place. It is a unique experience for each one but if they can identify the blocks/resistance (such as fear, lack of interest). Identifying and documenting their own “aha” moments will help other facilitators guide lessons so as to encourage empowering moments to emerge.

Being a facilitator and a parent at TLC does not end when school gets out. As a coordination team member, Maya is part of an assortment of all the TLC whatsapp groups (Sports, Pitchandikulam, Swimming, Circus, Surfing, facilitators, Supportive Learning, Ubuntu-Mediation NVC and the coordination team). She often has to shuttle her child to after school programs like piano, horse riding, Fertile and ATB. Her whatsapp groups are active around 7:30pm till 11pm after that, it’s “lights out!”

The Learning Community has a Facebook page and they are seeking assistance to help develop the TLC website. If you are interested in this school and its projects, kindly e-mail tlc@auroville.org.in