What we need today is an 'age of wisdom', and schools are a logical place to start. Chettinad is a living example in eliminating boredom, routine and rote learning – in short, an exploration of motivation and potential. Ultimately, its aim is to help children tap their reservoir of talent and find meaning and joy in what they do and how they do it.
In the space race between America and Russia, NASA spent millions of dollars on inventing a pen that could work in zero gravity. The Russians used a pencil. Albert Einstein once said: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
Education’s job is to create responsible, inspired, smart people and for that you need educators and parents of integrity and vision. But it’s not enough to be a success in this world, you have to be happy and happiness flowers from knowing yourself. That kind of clarity is not a game of chance. It’s the inevitable result of the right kind of inner architecture. And it is that inner architecture and fashioning it with intelligence and sensitivity that makes all the difference in a young life.
In India today we face big challenges. If you are a young parent finding the right school for your child can be bewildering. The "best" schools have long waiting lists that people rush to sign up for the moment their child is born. There is a drastic shortage of decent local schools in Chennai and across the state in general. But there are beacons of light on the horizon.
Sometimes, thinking outside the box pays off and insightful, beneficial changes are often born of questioning the status quo and streamlining what we know works. Conscious of the fact that education is only as good as the educator’s ability to bring out the best in a child, Chettinad has set up a Teacher Training Programs (which runs all through the year). It also encourages parents to get actively involved in the work of the school – to contribute and facilitate in whatever ways help build community and a happy learning environment for all.
When we get right down to it what really makes up a good education? It should include a collection of ideas on how the world works, why we humans do the things we do, and how each thing impacts another. It should make us ready for living in the world. When we are faced with a problem we cannot immediately solve, we need to be equipped with a variety of ways to attack it.
If education is to achieve its goal of confronting us; of pulling us out of our safe, unquestioned comfort zone, then we need to be exposed to a range of ideas and approaches. There are many ways to stretch a mind. Much comes from practice – the daily Sudoku or a maths puzzle is great for stretching brain muscle – but it can also come from working with those who excel at expressing themselves, whether it be in art, music, cooking or sport/yoga. Many scoff at the fine arts, yet aside from being enjoyed for their own sake, they emphasize something which most book-learning forgets: how to turn ideas into action. With ideas must come ways to express them and with this end in mind Chettinad has brought in storytellers, actors and professionals – from firemen to artists and scientists - to work with young children and widen their appreciation and understanding of life. So the curriculum is academically thorough but also attuned to the emotional and imaginative life of the child.
There are also well devised (and continuously tested) support systems for the parents and the teachers. Parents have access to online forums and monthly meetings with the creative team behind the running of the schools while teachers interact daily with counselors intent on supporting and inspiring their creativity.
Education isn’t just in the mind, but in how our mind interacts with the body. How does a thought express itself through hands, speech, and movement? How does a new thought enter us, through our ears, eyes, nose? A thought can change the world, but only if it can be put out into the world. And Chettinad uses many of the Montessori tools for developing not only academic knowledge but also motor neuron skills, social skills, self-confidence and awareness in a child. Children need to develop that personal intuition for how things work, what the rules are, why the rules exist, and, ultimately, how and when to break them.
The world desperately needs an 'age of wisdom', and schools are a logical place to start. Chettinad is a living example in eliminating boredom, routine and rote learning – in short, an exploration of motivation and potential. Ultimately, its aim is to help children tap their reservoir of talent and find meaning and joy in what they do and how they do it.