The Marble Jar
Mediation For India Rural Public School System
"The Marble Jar" Introduces task based activities that encourage community-building, self- discipline/respect, and curiosity into curriculums of low-resource public schools around India.
Design For a Billion 2018 is a two-week immersive international workshop co-organized by IIT Gandhinagar in Ahmedabad and The New School in New York that focus on designing conceptual solutions for social problems that are currently plaguing the majority of the lives of Indian people especially in the rural areas. Five groups of students are involved in this quick design and prototype practice, each dealing with a different aspect of the society.
"The Marble Jar" from our team is an attempt to address the issue of the currently outdated way of teaching and pedagogy in the public primary schools in rural India with the philosophy of "Be Your Own resources", meaning proposing a solution that utilizes the least outside resources possible and applies to the widest area possible. Basically instead of a functional product or tangible object like some of the other groups come up with, we end up with a narrative that repurpose the concept of studying into a self-organized, leadership-oriented, community-based practice that helps rural primary students build confidence and develop sense of self-motivation and responsibility, with very low or even zero cost required, therefore fulfilling the vision of "Designing for a billion".We end up being the best project idea during our final exhibition and critique.
The curricula in Indian public schools teach young students by methods of recitation and memorization. We observed that those methods often stifle creativity, critical thinking, and curiosity in students. Leadership, civic action, curiosity and culture are not quantitatively measured, as their other subjects in school such as math or science are, however they’re still necessary to enhance their education.
Our target audience is students in classes from the first to the fifth grades. The younger students often grow disinterested and have a hard time focusing on, no less attending school as they get older. Additionally, once children get to the age of 11, their habits
become more difficult to alter.
Interactive and low budget based education.
The intent is to introduce task based activities that encourage community-building, self- discipline/respect, and curiosity into curricula of low-resource public schools around India. “The Marble Jar” will encourage personal and communal responsibility by
giving tasks that allow students to interact with their community and environmental surroundings. For example, students collect small plastics around their homes and on their commutes to school. Collectively, students bring in found plastics and discuss the
importance of recycling. Once they’ve collected a certain amount of plastics, students will be rewarded by Skype, technology based lessons, an additional dress down day, or extra free play. Hence, the incentive focuses of a “The Marble Jar.” The ideal is that the children understand that they can be their own resources. Thus, reinforcing confidence, empowerment, and community building. These interactive and community-based tasks will imbue students with a sense of responsibility for self and other classmates. Children will understand that school is not independent from but connected to their outside lived experiences. In this way, we can expand the interior classroom walls to the exterior world. Students eagerly begin to learn that education can stem from curiosity and observation, not just the monotony of memory.
NGOs like Pratham, Hole In The Wall, and Arvind Gupta have tried to tackle the problem of recitation and memorization based curricula. These options often rely heavily on expensive resources and STEM content while neglecting to teach important life skills like culture, civic action and curiosity in the community. The curriculum in public schools becomes stale and students quickly lose interest in their education.
“The Marble Jar” is sustainable because it uses the children and their immediate environment as its major resource. Leader of the Boston Consulting Group, Seema Bansal, has said that education solutions can’t be sustainable when they depend on a large amount of outside resources and money, that is why “The Marble Jar” wants to make sure that any materials needed will be readily available to most communities so that we can implement these curriculum changes on a wider scale.
Pratham: One of the largest non-governmental organizations in India whose main goal is to provide standard education to underprivileged kids.
Hole in the Wall: A project created by Sugata Mitra that encourages self teaching and peer teaching by placing a computer in a wall and allowing the kids to figure it out.
Arvind Gupta: This project allows for kids to create toys from trash while also learning principles of both design and science.
Creative Learning Initiative: “Creative Learning Initiative (CLI) aims to provide a space and environment where learning can be joyous and lead to conceptual understanding, with the goal of bringing back the gleam in the eyes” (IIT Gandhinagar).