“This school has given me everything… I have learnt that a teacher can be a friend… I have experienced teaching which you can’t describe in words.”

 

“It is the best residential school I’ve ever been to. At PGS, the syllabus is tough, but because of the way they teach, one doesn’t feel it’s tough….I love PGS.”

 

“This school changed me a lot… it made me a better person.”

 

“This is the place where I have more friends than at home: they are the ones who encouraged me when I couldn’t speak English; they are the people who console me when I am sad; they are the people closest to me after my family.”

How children learn at The Peepal Grove School?

Unusual Residential School - 11th GradersNew children enter their first class looking like a toad blinded in torchlight: scared to ask a question and scared to answer one.

In most cases, it only takes a few months for this residential school to work its magic. Slowly their confidence grows – at first, their hand might rise to offer a response that they are sure of, and then later, as they discover how to enjoy learning, their hand is up all the time, with questions, answers, thoughts, deductions.

Possibly the most important change of all is a willingness to tackle the unknown head-on, to give an answer that is their own and not one that they have been told to give. It is this ability that we believe singles out PGS from the crowd of private schools across India, all claiming to offer ‘personalised learning’ and a focus on ‘critical thinking’.

 

 

A sense of belonging to the Peepal Grove School family

 

Students at this alternative school in India bond across the years. It is not unusual to see members of Class 4 chatting with Class 10, or mixed teams straddling the entire student body playing sport together. These friendships promote a strong sense of unity and belonging, as new students are quickly enveloped into the PGS family.

Is it this network of connections that has created the foundation of what makes PGS so special? Or is it the peaceful environment, or the open green space, or the equal relationships between staff and pupils? Happily, there seems to be not one, single factor but a blend of many that has produced an environment which challenges yet nurtures, which sets a child’s mind free yet gently guides.

By Oliver & Elenor Lockhart, teachers at The Peepal Grove School (2011-13), an alternative school in India.

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