The Isha Vidhya schools follow a carefully planned methodology designed to educate and nurture the wellbeing of rural children on all levels – academically, physically and mentally. The approach has been specially designed to compensate for the absence of an English speaking environment and the shortage of qualified teachers, creating a scalable model for delivering quality education.
Key features of this methodology include:
- English-medium instruction, emphasizing language acquisition at a young age
- Multiple-sensory learning methods that take education beyond recitation and memorization (see description below)
- Innovative, state-of-the-art computer-assisted learning programs with a computer-to-student ratio of 1 to 5
- Extensive libraries in print, audio, video and computer materials to enhance the learning process
- Recognition and celebration of the identity, culture and tradition of the rural communities
- Alternative learning approaches ranging from CD-ROM lessons to organic farming
- Establishing a dynamic education panel comprised of educators and non-educators to promote out-of-the-box thinking in educational initiatives. The panel will be responsible for a continuous cycle of evaluations, pilot testing, material development and training to constantly improve the quality of education
- Creating a teacher training center that will publish its own learning resources including textbooks and computer-based training materials
- Introducing VSAT satellite education programs to complement in-school learning
Multiple-sensory learning helps students absorb new material on a deeper level by engaging them on more than just visual and auditory levels. Multiple-sensory activities are employed in many of the subjects taught at the Isha Vidhya schools. Two classes are specifically tailored towards this mode of learning: Total Physical Response and Karadi Path.
Total Physical Response (TPR) blends language and movement so that students learn using the entire body. Teachers demonstrate physical actions while saying a command in English; next, students complete the action as the teacher gives the English command. In the third stage, students themselves give the English commands while their partner or classmates follow up with the appropriate action.
Conventional approaches to language learning rely on memorizing words while translating the meaning from the native language. This form of learning is slow and tedious for many students, and the second language never becomes as natural or easily used as the mother tongue. In contrast, the TPR method imitates the natural learning steps infants take in acquiring their first language. By combining language with movement, students intuitively grasp the English meanings without needing to translate. They absorb a deep understanding of the English language without consciously trying, making speaking English feel comfortable and natural.
Karadi Path (KP) employs a carefully crafted music-rhyme scheme that helps students intuitively learn language while having fun as they sing and dance. Students are given books with which to read along as recordings of well known Indian actors and actresses read the story scripts aloud. Listening to clear pronunciation of the English words while they read along, the students dramatically improve their English pronunciation and comprehension.
Intermingled within the story are lively songs and motions which keep the children engaged and entertained. Because they are having fun, learning happens naturally and without effort. Students easily pick up the words to the songs, improving their English vocabularies as they do so.
With the Isha Vidhya methodology blending technology, activity and learning, students find schooling and learning an enjoyable experience, and look forward to coming to school each day!