Over the last century the global community has been focusing on increasing access to education across the world and significant progress has been made. That said, much remains to be done to achieve universal access from pre-primary to secondary education – and access to education is only the beginning. UNESCO has declared that we are going through “a global learning crisis” because even after going to school, 250 million children globally cannot read, write or count. In India the situation is dismal to say the least. Educational attainment levels are disappointing.
Ability to read: only 1 in 4 students in standard 3 is able to read a standard 2 textbook (ASER 2014)
Ability to read: only half of the students in standard 5 are able to read a standard 2 textbook (ASER 2014)
Math proficiency: only 1 in 4 students in standard 3 can do simple subtraction (ASER 2014)
During my studies at Harvard University I was immersed in decades of research showing that the way we have traditionally run schools conflicts with how people learn, and I became convinced that we need to change our approach to education if we hope for students to thrive both personally and professionally in the 21st century. But what does a good learning experience look like? How do we help children acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to live fulfilling lives in which they can contribute meaningfully to their own and their community’s development?
Based on my studies of education, my personal learning experiences and the advice from countless experts and mentors, some fundamental learning principles have emerged. When I set out to create a place of learning – The Northstar School – I thus had a few guiding ideas in mind. In collaboration with our dedicated team of passionate educators we developed The Northstar Approach, a guiding framework designed to ensure that our school becomes a place where:
Students are encouraged to ask and explore their own questions
Students learn from their peers and their surroundings as well as from the teachers
Learning is fun, meaningful and relevant to students’ lives
The entire community, including students, has a voice in decision-making
Mohit Patel, Founder