Teaching Creativity in Rural India

Teaching Creativity in Rural India

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I recently came across an article from Forbes that talked about a man who’s goal is to use a creative teaching model to educate kids in rural India about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Mr. Ramji Raghavan is a former international banker who left his prestigious and high-paying job to start the Agastya Foundation. This organization seeks to provide underprivileged students and teachers hands-on experiences to stimulate their curiosity into the fields within STEM. The idea is to rekindle an interest in the sciences that was lost when students had to learn by just memorizing facts and concepts.

Problem: The old teaching model of “chalk and talk” memorization is stifling the creative urges and critical thinking abilities of students.

Solution: A “Hub-and-Spoke” model of learning:  Science Center “hubs” in different districts across the country where children and teachers can learn by doing hands on activities, and Mobile Lab “spokes” that span out to regions that lack proper education methods and give those students the chance to be excited about learning.

Results: Participants in the Foundations compete in Intel-sponsored academic competitions and have even beat out students from public and private state schools in previous competitions. Agastya has also won Google’s prestigious Global Impact Award, which now provides children all across India the technology and resources they need to stimulate their interests in STEM. Currently, Agastya has:

  • 80+ Mobile Science Vans
  • 35+ Science Centers
  • 172-acre Creativity Lab campus in Andhra Pradesh
  • 500+ full-time workers
  • Helped more than  5 million children and 150,000 teachers in 10 states in India and counting

stacks_image_193_1-process-s400x400I want to be clear here for all those people who may dismiss Mr. Raghavan as foolishly lobbying students to focus on the arts instead of STEM. This is incorrect; in fact, he is advocating STEM for these students. He is just changing the way they learn about the world by granting students the opportunities to explore their creative impulses. Too often in the past did students just put their heads in their textbooks and memorize what their teachers taught. But Raghavan is trying to change that teaching model by showing the world that students can develop better solutions to urban problems by being creative and challenging the status quo. In a video on his website, Raghavan says”questioning leads to [creative and innovative] changes” and is the backbone to social transformation. It seems like Raghavan is following the footsteps of Horace Mann, Wendy Kopp, and Sir Ken Robinson as global pioneers of education, even though he is seeking to change some of the poorest places in India.

Here’s the original article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashoka/2014/03/04/6565/

Do you think Raghavan can dispel the old-school teaching model of cramming and memorization with his hands-on approach? Let me know what you think in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!