A year of mentoring with Experiential Learning

Dr. Rahul Garg, a Professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, IIT Delhi, joined The Peepal Grove School on a sabbatical in 2022-23 to lead Experiential Learning at our school. Dr.Garg holds a B.Tech and a Ph.D in Computer Science from IIT Delhi and a Masters from the University of California, Berkeley. His fields are data science, machine learning and brain imaging.

In the past year that he has spent at The Peepal Grove School, Dr. Garg has been taking the children across different grades through an uncharted journey of learning.

His arrival at The Peepal Grove School happened as a culmination of a series of circumstances starting with his heading the Department of Value Education at IIT Delhi. As he prepared the curriculum, he happened to meet several accomplished thinkers, educationists and spiritual masters including Sri M. This led to Sri M being appointed as Adjunct Professor of Practice (APoP) in the Department of NRCVEE – National Research Centre for Value Education in Engineering at IIT, Delhi, where he conducted a series of online courses for the students of IIT-Delhi on various aspects of Indian thought and philosophy.

“As the Head of the National Resource Centre for Value Education in Engineering, I felt the need to explore a wide variety of pedagogical approaches, especially with respect to Value Education. The Peepal Grove School seemed like an interesting choice to explore further”, says Dr. Rahul Garg.

One of his first projects at The Peepal Grove School was exploring and discovering the virtues of millets with the students of Grade 7. This exercise and exploration on millets connected them to diabetes and water scarcity. As part of the project, students learnt to cook millet recipes, visited paddy and millet fields in the neighbourhood and compared the quantum of water consumption between paddy & millets. They concluded their project findings with a play on the human body’s fight against diabetes using allies like millets, dance and exercise.

In the 2nd term, the students of Grade 7 observed the Panchayati Raj system in surrounding villages with Dr. Garg.

Wearing his scientist hat, Dr. Garg is working with the students of Grades 6, 7 & 8 on a variety of fascinating science projects such as making plant pigments, a simple ECG machine, studying the effects of Pranayama on heart rate and blood pressure, detection of adulteration of milk, installing a weather station, identifying blood groups, composting, building a herb garden and so on.

Says Dr. Garg, “The Peepal Grove School is located in a beautiful and secluded valley with modern facilities that makes our living experience a treat. The children are very loving and enthusiastic. Exposure to new ways of doing things is encouraged. In addition, regular workshops for teachers that the school organises on a regular basis has been a great learning experience for me”.

He has also started an Electronics and Robotics club for the students. The students are currently working on making their own robots under his guidance. “It is easy. It is all about putting together the right algorithm and some basic equipment”, he says. Dr. Garg also started the “Brain Exploration” club. Every weekend, students read literature, watch videos and discuss fascinating dimensions of the human brain.

As Dr. Garg’s sabbatical comes to a close next week, he leaves the school with fond memories. “At The Peepal Grove School, I was exposed to a different philosophy of learning and teaching which was so new to me. Unlike the conventional education system that thrives on rewards and punishment, the philosophy at The Peepal Grove School is to offer an environment to the students that is free from external rewards and punishments. Such an environment is absolutely essential for learning”, says Dr. Garg.

He leaves us all enriched with the treasures of hands-on experiences that will be cherished by us for a long time.

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