Unlearning Uncentred- अब तक का सफ़र| By Nishant Paul

     

It has almost been seven months since we started meeting the children who live near the Jamun Wala Park in Khirki and make it the happening place that it is. Without them, the park would only look green but not ‘happy-green’! We have met each other at least 30-32 times (for sessions) and are now aware of each others’ idiosyncrasies. We see glimpses of trust in our relationships now, which has been the foundation as well as the result of the ‘work’ that we have done.

When we started working (thanks to KHOJ), we began with a very basic premise that focuses on the psycho-social aspect of working with children. From our own experiences and the wisdom floating around, we have known that majority of the existing learning spaces (be it schools, home or even society in general) are stifling any free movement in children’s minds and actions for they merely cater to the ‘wants’ of the world. We wished to create an informal, unstructured learning space which doesn’t fall into the established trappings of the existing systems. On the face of it, it might look like a pretty vague idea to start with but that’s what we had to begin with. Consequently, we initiated our interaction with the children at the end of January on mounds of garbage, the erstwhile state of Jamun Wala Park!

Along the way, the facilitators, which includes many children from the core group of Aagaaz too, have been setting aside some time to work on polishing their facilitation skills and also, learn about working well with children with all kinds of energy. Additionally, we plan to invite educators and facilitators to train all the Unlearning Uncentered facilitators in the area of working with children and informal learning spaces. The pre, post-session planning and review aspects are in place now and have become a helping source of reflection and generation of further ideas for Unlearning Uncentred. Currently, Devika, Himani and Nishant are regular facilitators, with Sanyukta coming in as the observer sometimes. Himani has been the most consistent volunteer at Aagaaz and an integral part of Unlearning Uncentred since the beginning! More people are going to start helping us out with the space starting this month, as facilitators and designers of the space; Jasmeen, Saddam and Nagma from the Aagaaz core group as facilitators & Vardhna, Nupur and Shipra, our friends and educators, as designers. We are really looking forward to that!

Along the way, the facilitators, which includes many children from the core group of Aagaaz too, have been incorporating time & space to polish their facilitation skills and also, learn about working well with children with all kinds of energy. Additionally, we plan to invite educators and facilitators to train all of us in the area of working with children and informal learning spaces. The pre, post-session planning, and review aspects are in place now and have become a helping source of reflection and generation of further ideas for Unlearning Uncentred. Currently, Devika, Himani and Nishant are regular facilitators, with Sanyukta coming in as the observer sometimes. More people are going to start helping us out with the space starting this month,- Jasmeen, Saddam and Nagma from the Aagaaz core group as facilitators & Vardhna, Nupur and Shipra, our friends and educators, as designers. We are really looking forward to that!

We are looking to understand the needs of these children better and respond to those by designing the sessions in a suitable way. Also, in order to support such designs, we are looking to study and understand child development in depth. The children whom we meet twice every week (till July we used to meet them once every week) belong to diverse age groups, This is another factor that needs to be incorporated in our session plans to ensure every child’s engagement. It’s a challenge and something that we look forward to addressing since the crux of our work is to be able to give everyone the space to be.

The adults from the community have started responding to us differently as well. Whenever a regular facilitator doesn’t come, some of the parents are bound to ask us about them! Recently, one of the children’s elder sister wanted to learn all the songs that the children had learned. In response, all the children gathered around her and shared every song in one go! This kind of sharing that has been initiated on its own within the community is a beautiful sight and opens doors for our future engagement with the larger community in Khirki.

It’ll take us some more time and experiences to be clear about our vision for the space. Though what we are really sure about is that our program’s approach will continue to be informal, inclusive and playful and that there will be a lot of learning and unlearning, for everyone, including us. Hopefully!

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