Testimonial: In the company of those I want to grow up to be

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Testimonial: In the company of those I want to grow up to be

By Manasi Barmecha
Double major in Biology and Education (B.Sc-B.Ed) | 3rd-year student at Azim Premji University

I decided to use a regular Friday to attend Arthan’s conference on ‘Future of Education‘ and it has been a rewarding choice. The email I got with the details suggested a rather long day filled with adults, tough questions and lots of reflecting. Only later did I realise that these adults are the kind I would want to grow up to be, the questions asked are those that often cross my mind and I felt like a part of something larger than me.

Right from the keynote address by Roshan Paul of Amani Institute, the entire day was full of inspiring insights. He spoke of the larger picture of life and the differences we can create by consciously choosing our purpose. The idea of ‘living out loud’ particularly stuck with me. It made me ask myself what I thought the larger goals of education were.
Is it through which a semblance of equity can be achieved, an act that promotes lasting peace, creates conscious humans, or all of these?

As the sessions moved forward, a comprehensive construction of the varying definitions of education, its purpose and needs began to emerge. The people I was listening to were those that had been there, on the field. They all had experience in dealing with different aspects of education. These were people who were walking the talk!

The session I enjoyed the most was ‘The Only Way Forward: Enabling Alignment of Head, Heart, Hand and Soul‘. It discussed opportunities created for us in light of the pandemic as well the way forward – how we can evaluate the gaps in the current systems of education and how we must rethink the future. During the session, one of the speakers asked us to think back to what we wish had been done differently in our own schools and these simple questions moved me to think of the pathologized treatment I had received in school and reading other people’s experiences legitimized what I was feeling in some way. This led to a deeper question on the sidelining of a child’s and teacher’s emotions within the classroom. It’s strange how the most ignored person in a classroom is the one for whom the entire system has been constructed. I made a mental note to always make my classroom as I would want to experience it as a child. Neha Bhatia from SEE Learning made a comment which I thought was very powerful in thinking about a school. “What is a school?” she asked. The books? The buildings, the textbook or the people? I knew that for me, the answer was the people. So, in reimagining schools, we must reimagine the people in it; give them more autonomy. The importance of listening was also highlighted.

The masterclass on reimagining learning during a crisis by team Pratham was also very informative. They spoke in terms of logistics – how learning can happen online. It made me realise that streamlined efforts can reach far. The sheer number of people working in the field, doing various kinds of things was very exciting to witness.

I think the entire virtual conference had a zoom-in, zoom-out approach where questions of all magnitudes were given equal attention and significance; which made it an overall holistic experience. It was insightful without getting preachy. The sessions facilitated free-thinking and encouraged me to find my own reasons, my own answers. As a student of education, it was extremely helpful to get an idea of the spectrum of the work that’s already happening. A lot of things said within the span of the day have stayed with me. I resonated with a lot of ideas, formed some new ones and hopefully will find a chance soon to allow these to synthesise into action.

Manasi was one of the participants of Arthan’s ‘Future of Education‘ track held on July 3, 2020 (as a part of our long-term initiative, Building Civil Society Organisations of the Future).
Check out our upcoming tracks on our website: www.arthanevents.com

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