Freedom Related Activities in IE Schools

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Activities Conducted at IE Schools

The following activities conducted in Auroville schools give us an insight into how to develop freedom in children by -

Creating a free school environment,

Designing a classroom with free choices and

Developing freedom through art.

Designing an Environment of Freedom

A Quiet and Safe Atmosphere

Creating a room that is quiet, noise-free and relaxing in which children feel safe and protected. A safe atmosphere helps children to express themselves freely and to grow fearlessly.

Creating a homely environment for younger children based on love and trust.

Consciously creating a supportive, harmonious working space for children that supports freedom.

Creating a "Prepared Environment" in which children can do things for themselves. The prepared environment makes learning materials and experiences available to children in an ordered way. This encourages children to take charge of the their own learning process. [1]

"Planning Day's Schedule" in a way that has sufficient time for children to freely choose and explore amongst a variety of activities. For instance, keeping afternoons totally free for students to choose as per their interests from various artistic activities (such as clay, crafts, embroidery, painting, tie & dye, cooking, origami, soft-toys & puppet making so on..).. Allowing children to have a minimum understanding of all the activities before they make their choices helps them use their freedom consciously. [2]

Creating a Constructive, Free Space with Free Choices

Arranging all the furnitures in the classroom against the walls and making space in the centre that is completely free and open. This arrangement for younger children invites them to run through the classroom, sliding, wrestling and using it almost as a playground space.

Another way is to break the big classroom space into small activity corners that are better defined, dividing the spaces with the help of furniture, leaving just enough space in the center for holding a circle. This design provides greater options allowing the children to choose more clearly where they want to go during their free time; permits free movement from one activity corner to another or free play with the peers; still keeping them grounded and focused. [3]

Creating Activity Corners

Activity corners can be created by arranging the classrooms to have different activities. For instance, classroom 1: doll house, big Lego blocks, clay or beads; classroom 2: books, colouring, stitching, building with wooden blocks; classroom 3 : painting (on easel, spray painting, printing), games, crafts with recycled boxes and plastics, modelling clay; [4]

In each area the teachers can set up the materials, explain to the children how to use them and observe the children. This helps to make sure that the children do not just hop from one thing to the other but also cultivate an ability to concentrate; [5]

In these activity corners, children are able to handle material independently and go more in depth with their exploration; [6]

In these activity corners, children play individually and in small groups, in a spontaneous manner; [7]

Making the classroom a stable point of reference along with the class teacher and the classmates. The children moving around and exploring the different activity centers and corners, closely supported by the class teacher allows the children freedom as much as possible without giving them the feeling of being anchorless; [8]

A few examples of activity corners are art and craft center, drama center, block center, science center, cooking and gardening center, quiet room, reading corner, sandpit, a corner for play dough and clay, sand and water, games and puzzles, self-study corners for individual studies on subjects like art, maths, science etc. with all available resources; [9] [10]

Activity corners in a Quiet Room

Creating a quiet, focused and safe space and offering different materials and different proposals for children to choose from; This kind of a space helps shy children, who most probably are in need of personal attention, to become more open and talkative, without fear of expressing their thoughts and needs. [11]

The special feature of the quiet room is that the children can be allowed two at a time, or sometimes only one while the others are following the regular class. The child is free to select any material or game that one likes to play with and is free to change at any point of time. This helps them to work individually at their own pace without the group pressure. [12]

Within the quiet room, an indoor and a small courtyard can be created to offer a wide variety of materials according to children’s interests. Few materials which can be used for children aged between 4 and 6 are a doll house, sand bags, wooden blocks, jigsaw puzzles, puppets, musical instruments, masks, drawing materials and a small courtyard outdoor that is equipped with tap, sink, sandpit, sand toys, skating boards, animal toys, bottles and funnels. [13]

Creating Open Classes and Open Learning Spaces

Conducting regular classes which are open for drop-in students. Students can walk in at any point during a specified time period; [14]

For example, allowing children to freely walk in and observe materials and specimens in the Laboratories such as– insects, fish, amphibians and reptiles in the life science lab and inviting children's participation in regular cleaning and maintaining of aquariums, terrariums and outdoor pit based on individual's interest. [15]

Activities Helpful in Nurturing Free Progress

Free Play

Providing free space and time for children to play on their own. Free play is crucial for a developing child, it provides a medium to understand the world as well as discover one's own nature. [16] [17]

"Playing Freely with Wooden Blocks" in a room dedicated to build with wooden blocks.

The room is equipped with sound proof panels under the roof and rubber mats on the floor. The children are invited in small groups to build for a stipulated time (30-45 minutes), once every week or during free time. This unstructured play with wooden blocks provides them the freedom to be original and develop their creativity. [18]

Qi Gong

Breathing with gentle movements, working to bring subtleness and freedom to the body. This process activates the chi (energetic body) to bring balance to the physical, mental and emotional realms. [19]

Individualised Personal Learning Strategies

Each child is unique and has a different learning style and learning pace. Individualised and personal approach to learning provides each child with the freedom to learn and develop in their own unique way. Adapting "Individualized Personal Learning Techniques" in the classroom for subjects such as Music, Awareness Through Body’, Mathematics, and Reading program for younger children. [20]

"Designing Classrooms and Instructions" for students to learn as per their preferred learning techniques and styles. [21]

Adapting the physical layout of the classroom in a way that address the diverse needs and abilities of students. For instance, children‘s desks can be dispersed around the classroom to promote more independent and focused learning; quiet and private reading corners to encourage regular silent reading can be set up. Addressing different learning styles of children by implementing different methods such as individual work, class projects, outings etc. [22]

Developing and Arranging Classroom Materials

Working towards developing and classifying the classroom materials to meet particular needs of students after observing the students for a longer time period; Materials such as games, worksheets, DVD‘s, puzzles, compilations for various subject areas can be developed by teachers which are appropriate for different learning styles, abilities and interests of every student in the class; [23]

Materials for different subjects such as Math, English, Science, Geography etc. can be placed in specific locations and made easily available on the shelves and labeled. It can include things that help reinforce and practice learned material, teach a new skill, develop creativity etc;

Providing an instruction sheet that children need to follow in order to understand the task along with the materials, facilitates independent and focused work; Further new materials can be developed to address the constantly changing needs of children and should be introduced to the children before placing it in a particular shelf. [24]

Study Plan Development and Goal Setting

Inviting students to generate their own plan for individual development. [25]

Allowing the students to choose their schedule to offer more flexibility in their learning process.

Allowing the students to choose an activity that they wish to do during most of the class hours and developing plan for the chosen activity with the help of the teachers. Giving each child a work/learning chart that clearly states the expectations and give suggestions for alternative materials that they might want to use. This brings a positive change in the atmosphere of the class as students organize themselves, work in small groups or individually to do the diverse assignments. Children enjoy the freedom offered to decide what to do instead of having to do a particular activity at any given time. [26]

Giving students a copy of their work plan prepared by teachers, communicating about what needs to be accomplished within a time frame in all of the subject areas and at the same time providing them the space for free choice of work.

For instance, after a day’s lesson, discussion and/or review in a certain subject area, the students are free to continue with the same topic or choose to do something else on their work plan that they are interested to take up. This freedom encourages the students to be self disciplined and they begin to learn how to use their time efficiently. This way they are able to cover a range of topics and at the same time free to pursue their interest; [27]

It is up to the students to look in their work plan and find what they have finished and what still needs to be done. This allows them to work at their own pace, including taking short breaks from work if they need it; When a student finishes all the work on their work plan before the end of the given time, he or she can choose to work on anything from a variety of enrichment activities drawn from various disciplines; [28]

Giving children the freedom to choose the subject that they want to study and plan for the same for a particular time period. [29]

Children can also be encouraged to become teachers for the chosen subjects and give lessons to either the younger children or to their own classmates, depending on the subject they are confident with. This training can have a deep impact on their personality and support the development of true identity. [30]

Art-based Activities that Develop Freedom

Free Drawing and Painting

Regular drawing and painting classes that allow children to express themselves freely. [31]

Painting freely together with a few adults in a safe space. The space is enclosed in such a way that it promotes free expression without any fear of judgment, but with a stimulating presence of a practitioner. This activity allows free discovery of organic memory by going deeper and deeper in the discovery of one’s true being through painting. [32]

Arts and Crafts for Faculty Development

Allowing children to choose from from various art classes such as crafts, paintings, clay, carpentry and pottery activities through which the latent faculties of the children can be addressed; [33]

Creating an opportunity to freely express themselves by involving the children exclusively in one of the art works such as clay work; [34]

Conducting art-based activities in a joyful atmosphere that supports children’s freedom, nourishes their creative capacities, promotes the expression of something deeper and is crucial for the children to come in contact with one's Psychic Being; [35] [36]

Inviting children to create one‘s own ‘’’Universe in a Sandbox’’’, with objects and figurines displayed on shelves. [37]

Stories and Narration

Allowing children to bring in their own stories to read, or without a script relate a story to themselves and share it with other students; Encouraging children to choose and read a passage from classical texts in literature such as Thirukkural and share its meaning to the whole group; These activities provide children with opportunities to freely express themselves through story and speech and also to become free from fear. [38]

References

  1. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Deepanam_School
  2. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p. 93)
  3. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.41)
  4. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.33)
  5. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p. 54)
  6. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p. 40)
  7. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p. 40)
  8. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.43)
  9. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.43)
  10. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p. 40)
  11. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol. _1.pdf (p.31)
  12. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/2/2d/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2011 -12_Vol._1.pdf (p.11)
  13. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_ Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.31)
  14. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Ilaignarkal_ Education_Centre
  15. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2014-2015:_Deepanam_Life_Science_Lab
  16. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/2/2d/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2011-12_ Vol._1.pdf
  17. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11 _-_Vol._1.pdf
  18. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual _Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.35)
  19. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2013:Pitanga
  20. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2013:Further_Development_of_Individualized_Learning_within_the_Classroom
  21. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf
  22. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_ Vol._1.pdf (p.121)
  23. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_ Vol._1.pdf (p.121)
  24. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.14)
  25. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual _Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf
  26. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.15)
  27. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11 _-_Vol._1.pdf (p.122)
  28. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2013:Further_Development_of_Individualized_Learning_within_the_Classroom
  29. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf
  30. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf
  31. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/2/2d/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2011-12_Vol._1.pdf
  32. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/b/ba/SAIIER_Annual_Report_2009-10 _Vol._1.pdf (p.104)
  33. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2013:Faculty_Development_Through_Crafts
  34. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p.106)
  35. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p.106)
  36. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2013:Faculty_Development_Through_Crafts
  37. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/wiki/SAIIER_2013:Lilaloka
  38. http://wiki.auroville.org.in/w/images/7/7f/Annual_Report_2010-11_-_Vol._1.pdf (p.80)