Sounds too good to be true? XIth standard students creating their own course? Are you wondering what kind of a school can really pass on so much power to its students? Or that what kind of a board would ever approve a school doing something like this? The fact is, this is happening for real and this story is indeed as cool as it sounds. Watch it for yourself!
You would be delighted to see the kind of awesome things that students want to learn, when given the chance, so that ultimately they can start solving real life problems right from school (and follow their passion at the same time).
CBSE and ICSE are the commonly known board systems in India for plus 2 education. But several schools (in India and abroad) do follow another equivalent program – IB (International Baccalaureate). While IB differs in may ways with CBSE and ICSE (and other Indian boards) in the overall curriculum requirement, it still requires its students to choose at least six class-room based subjects. Mahindra United World College India (MUWCI) in Pune, is an IB affiliated boarding school – where other than Indian students, those from across the globe study (in fact the total Indian students in the MUWCI campus might be only around 30 to 40%). The school realized that there are several students who learn much better outside classrooms – by way of real life experiences, by doing things and getting their hands dirty; but more importantly, by getting to decide for themselves, what exactly they want to learn.
To help such students, MUWCI has come up with a radically different program where the students need to take up only half of the classroom subjects as required by IB. For the rest of their learning, the students can design their own Project (based on what interests them, with help from mentors) and then work on their self designed Project over the course of the two years. They get a Project Based Diploma at the end of it, which is affiliated and approved by Cambridge (and that means they can join any University after that, just as well as after say a regular IB). In Feb this year, MUWCI invited me to spend few days with its Project Based Diploma students (and those behind creating the program) to see for myself the awesomeness that’s happening. Needless to say, I was darn impressed. And if you watch my story, you’d be too (or so I hope 🙂 ).
Doing something unconventional will always have it’s own challenges (how do you evaluate? how do you ensure students stick to their initial ideas over the two years and don’t get demotivated? and so on and so forth) but as they say where there is a will, there’s a way. Cary Reid, the coordinator for the Project Based Diploma program has been doing an amazing job to make sure students get to learn what they want to and at the same time, an objective evaluation of their learning is possible, in as effective a manner as it is for a standard schooling system involving class-room exams.
The story essentially shows what these students are upto and why it’s important for more and more schools to offer alternative ways of learning like this. You would be delighted to see the kind of cool things that students want to learn, when given the chance, so that ultimately they can start solving real life problems right from school (and follow their passion at the same time). I hope that in the subsequent years, some Indian students see the logic behind a program like this too, and go for it! It’s pretty brilliant really.