In a 15-student classroom, the sixth graders returned from a Hospital field-trip and spent the week immersed in reflecting and understanding multiple topics to make knowledge out of information. Questioning everything from role specialization as a doctor (pathologist to general physicians to surgeons), to engineering of spaces such as ER, OT, patient rooms etc., to the chemistry involved for sterilization & hygiene using ionization & UV, to the social studies of a hospital as a local place of employment and healthcare industry’s role in a society in general.
A month earlier, the second graders were absorbed in discussions about various milk and milk products such as Dahi, Ghee, Paneer after their excursion to a Dairy Factory the week earlier. Going into the mathematics of logistics (collection and movement of milk from collection centers in villages to factories) to the science of pasteurisation, to the home science of usages and storage of milk at homes.
These trips are some of the many experiential excursions as part of the curriculum at the Paras Group led The Paras World School India (TPWSI).
“It is hard work,” admits Yasmin Khan, the principal of the group’s flagship school in South City 2 neighborhood of Gurgaon. “School is where a young pupil’s learning begins and you want to make it as real, rich and stimulating as possible. Teachers at Paras World School are trained to prefer a more experiential hands-on approach to learning in a classroom in contrast to classrooms with electronic gadgets. In my years as a teacher, I found students are naturally inclined to ask questions, but need the environment, and the experiences to do so” she says.
TPWSI insists that real world exposure is a more resourceful approach and uses its multi-sector reach within the group to bring many theoretical lessons to life through its “immersive learning” approach.
Ask the fourth graders at Paras World School and they almost convincingly affirm that their class group is capable of putting together their own real estate development! Such learning is undoubtedly inherently interdisciplinary beyond just ‘construction of a structure’ and delves into all aspects of their knowledge areas - value of real estate planning for civic needs and economics (“why build this instead of that?”), enhancing community living (“why parks? why plant trees?”), human safety (“why yellow helmets?”), geographical elements of a piece of land and economic considerations in planning sizes, layouts, material used amongst the many other questions that were explored at one of the excursions to a construction sites/real estate site offices of the group.
According to Priyanka Narang, the school’s Vice-Chairperson, “School education in India is set to witness major transition from learning restricted to just the classroom to way beyond. Strengths of the Paras group allows some of the real life learnings from different spheres to augment the learning journey of interactive and inquisitive young children in our school. Exposure to a variety of roles in a community also provides building blocks to career exploration from a young age where students are not expected to make pre-mature decisions regarding an anticipated career path.”
In addition to roping in legendary educationists such as Paramjit Kaur Narang of Vasant Valley School & Pathways Schools fame, The Paras World School seems to be pushing the envelope in school education by leveraging its group assets in Healthcare, Dairy and Real Estate i.e. Paras Hospitals, Paras Dairy and Paras Buildtech. It is a good example of what experiential education in schools that are part of wide-winged groups should look like – and this Gurgaon school surely seems to be leading the way!