Coordinator’s View

Learning Experience…


To test the taste of food, one must eat it. It is true for every experience, and so also to learning, without exception. Experience of learning cannot be classified in the form of a Menu. It depends upon the context of the learner, engagement and commitment of the mentor, and preparedness of the learner to receive that which is being imparted or mentored. This article is based on nearly a decade’s involvement in mentoring students over a wide spectrum, coming from unprivileged section of society to affluent and creamy layers.

Learning is something that starts the moment a child is born, but in an informal manner. It starts at developing means of survival and grows as a natural instinct. As one grows, he develops likes and dislikes, and unknowingly develops affinity towards likes which is known as passion. Thus passion of two individuals is either different in nature or degree. That goes into ingenuity of every individual. This passion keeps working as background process while one learns and practices for survival. Growth of a person in passion depends upon how closely it is aligned to his survival needs.

Education is an institutionalization of learning into a formal process. In ancient India, it started with Gurukul and has grown over thousands of years into modern schools, colleges, universities, training and coaching centers of sorts. Thus, aim of education has come out of family domain and is open for learning of those who qualify for the institution. Educational institutions have now become multi-specialty learning centers.

Different models of education have evolved to facilitate learning and develop competence among students. Each of them is aimed to effectively handle problems that are encountered in real life. It is a far sighted proposition having projection until last breadth. Yet, some models are aimed at short term gains viz. admission in an institution of choice, professional career, and so on; this has led to commercialization of education. In the process ability to solve problems has taken a narrow perspective.

Ability to solve problem, discussed in the article A Teacher: Right or Wrong?, starts from observation and leads through a process culminating into making choice of an alternative to solve the problem, like an adviser or consultant. But, the process does not end at that. It moves forward to groom ability to implement the solution for the larger good; this is the real purpose of education. Thus, constricting focus on education to materialistic gains is blatant selfish perspective which denounces the importance of wisdom in the life discussed in the article Professionalism vs Commercialism?

None is born wise. What is apparent is the effect of environment that a child is groomed in, and the ability to respond to the stimulus. This ability is unique to every child. It is evident from the nuances among even the twins. While, learning is personalized, the education is impersonalized. Therefore, education is a bilateral process which puts an onus upon students to interactively participate in education. This participation has been evolved in Interactive Online Mentoring activity.

Interactive learning by students signifies their urge to rise to a higher potential. It requires complementing of mentors’ efforts by students to recapitulate what is explained in class. It is important to note that retention of any learning decays exponentially with time. Best results in learning are obtained if revision is performed by students at the earliest possible, but not later than the bed-time. As per laws of inertia everybody tries to occupy position of least potential, this is reason of escapism among students. Accordingly, there are only a few ambitious and inspired students who would revise and explore their doubts at learning. This is the reason of diversity in learning among students. It is also experienced among the children in a same family who are groomed in same environment.

Unfortunately, drift in pattern of tests and examinations toward objective questions is robbing away the skill of analysis, evolving solutions, and ability to implement them. Recently, students of class 10th during our Interactive Online Mentoring Sessions (IOMS) were found to be oblivious of use of set-square which is an integral part of geometry box; it is an essential  constituent of their school bag from class 6th onward. During an exercise to represent a rational number on number line, students had to be literally persuaded to do it individually. It is trivial example of inertia effect prevailing among students. It is more than often experienced among children by mentors and parents. Incidentally, compulsions of governments, across the globe, to contain devastating Corona pandemic over the last 1-1/2 years has worsened the learning environment. Students at schools are worst sufferer. It is a matter of anxiety to mentors inspired with the sense of Personal Social Responsibility (PSR), to imagine the frightening scenario that would follow.

IOMS has been evolved based on the learning experience of a small group of co-passionate mentors who are proactively engaged on it with PSR. IOMS is the flagship of this initiative Gyan Vigyan Sarita. It was started with mentoring of unprivileged students in the traditional Chalk-N-Talk mode in early 2012. Considering constraints of mentors with their growing age and conveniently affordable access to technology, mentoring of target students was upgraded to IOMS in 2016. This upgradation was aimed at to enlarge the reach of the initiative on a wider canvas and connect passionate mentors on the initiative.

Learning experience has been used to broadly classify learners in binary mode  inspired and motivated ones. Arjun was an inspired learner and he could reach par excellence. But, there is still a better example Eklavya. The latter, despite being denied of learning opportunity could excel above Arjun. In essence, inspired persons make their way with or without support or guidance. Therefore, relevance of educational institutes is more of a facilitator to inspired learners. Whereas, these institutes, so also teachers therein, have a big role in motivating learning among their non-inspired students. Each institute has defined certain roadmap of education called curriculum.

IOMS, is purely a non-organizational, non-remunerative, non-commercial and non-political initiative working on the principle of Zero-Fund-&-Zero-Asset (ZFZA). Yet, it relentlessly strives to reach out to target students, lest they are deprived of main stream education. It is an effort towards Democratization of Education. It is an aim too big for the initiative, however, it is a humble beginning towards a major social cause. It keeps in sight future of the society and nation, in a scenario where education is severely commercialized.

Salient observations in stimulating quest for learning among motivational students that we practice in IOMS are disseminated for the consideration of all. It is an honest confession that we don’t have numbers to market our model, nor it is our objective. It is just our humble pursuit with PSR, not a prescription, and is as under –


Our Conviction: Every student is malleable learner and he deserves an opportunity to learn anything and everything that is available to any of his contemporary, without discrimination. Yet, growth must be regulated based on performance at learning. Unless this happens importance of education would vanish.  Education cannot be made a production process and apply Zero Defect policy. Diversity among students is natural, yet this does not provide a leeway to a teacher to differentiate students in his mentoring endeavour.


Joy of Learning: Learning is pleasure which grows spirally, it is sustainable, but fun consumable. One who has ever experienced joy of learning get drifted into it similar to that in cyclone. Experience of joy of learning develops a quest in a learner to explore better learning opportunities. Instead, those students who did not experience the joy, participate in learning as long as they find fun in it. Such fun seeking students are the best at exploring innovative reasons to stay away from the learning environment.


Self-Carving: There are no short-cuts to learning and excellence. One has to carve himself, it is an appropriate phrase at learning. Joy of learning demands on one to forego many of the momentary pleasures with passion, pursuance and perseverance (3Ps). Joy of learning is no different than addiction, obsession; the only difference in learning is that it is all positivity. There is nothing wrong as long as 3Ps remain intact. The learning experience itself is the best teacher to help in improvisation, wherever necessary. It also possesses potential to steer a way through adversaries.

Group Dynamics: In IOMS students are encouraged to indulge in intra-group discussion, problem solving, clarifications on the discussions held during online sessions. Students are motivated to organize themselves in groups of 4-5 students. Teachers and mentors act only as catalysts. Each group makes a submission on their understanding of subject matter during online session. These submissions are discussed in following sessions to remove any deficiency in respect of correctness, completeness, sequence and presentation. Teachers at school are required to keep fueling the group dynamics among students. This practice showed encouraging results when IOMSs were held in virtual-classroom at school, during pre-Corona era. But, ever since social distancing became a compulsion in early 2020, students started attending IOMS from their respective home. It has resulted in reduced participation of students due to various constraints at level of individual student. Therefore, this was moved into individual student making submission of their understanding of concepts in the subject matter. Rest of the process remained the same. Yet, taking it a step forward, one of the best submission was included in monthly web-bulletin. It is an attempt to encourage a feeling of excellence among students in anything that they do. Real benefit of the intervention is derived by only those who students who participate in group dynamics and pursue it until submissions of their understanding. 

Desire to be Good: Learning in isolation accrues personalized attention to the student. It may apparently help a student to learn a subject better than his contemporaries. But, the element of socialization that is missed in the process deprives a child from becoming a complete and a good person. A student who can impart his learning to his peers grows better at both the subject and human values. It is incorrect to judge a student merely on his marks secured or Intelligence Quotient (IQ). In real life, Emotional Quotient (EQ), Social Quotient (SQ) and Adversity Quotient (SQ) play a major role in success of a person. Psychologists have devised various means of judging these quotients but, every school may not have adequate access or an expertise to mentor students on these parameters. Same is true at IOMS. We, therefore, encourage group dynamics among students alongwith the periodical interaction with students and their parents. These interactions are primarily to convey our concerns for human values and need to grow students together.


Intuitive Learning:  As a child grows he must scale into intuitive learning where his mind and senses respond intuitively to any stimulus, like blink of eye. This grows with assimilation of mentoring and visualization of the same in real life environment with two basic questions How? And Why? These questions ignite inquisitiveness among students to explore their answers. All the branches of knowledge are centered around nature and help the successors to perpetuate understanding of nature. This is true for humanities as well as science. In IOMS it is impressed upon learners to review their learning at the earliest possible, without notes and books as far as possible. Such a review with proper derivation with diagram on paper is essential in mathematics and science. Once this is done, learners are advised to revise the subject matter mentally, sitting at peace to the extent feasible. Such a mental revision may appear to be difficult at the beginning. But, once efforts start, it gets progressively simpler, fascinating and learning becomes long lasting. It leads to self-confidence of an ability to explain it to anyone, apply it and also experience it intuitively. It elevates overall trajectory of learning and practicing it. It is important for students to know that there is very little to remember in mathematics and science. This makes it easy to learn these and associated subjects intuitively. It also helps bear in mind basic concepts. This is, further, helpful in higher pursuit in learning with an higher proficiency. It essential to stay relevant in the world which is growing fast in knowledge. Moreover, no teacher or mentor can help students, at every stage, to review basic concepts and maintain speed of learning, together.


Multidimensionality: Life is multidimensional and therefore, requirements of capabilities assume different dimensions, which keep on adding, rather multiplying, as one grows in life. In IOMS we encourage students to make their creative contributions viz. performing art in the audio/video form, visual art like drawing; painting, sketching in image format; and literary art such as story, poem, essay in textual form. This together with understanding of concepts, as discussed in Group Dynamics, is brought out in Students’ Section of monthly Web-Bulletin, another dimension of this initiative. It is believed that given an adequate opportunity, some of the accomplished person may like to connect these students to extend their specialized guidance. Who knows how many of them would become glittering start of tomorrow on their own creativity. This endeavor is to create a process, a platform and an environment to facilitate their growth. Further, this bulletin is to create an awareness among elites about the difference that they can make with the PSR.


Focus: In IOMS focus is on mentoring mathematics, physics and chemistry at the level of class 9th and 10th, high-school.  It is based on our strength areas. This stage, for students, is most important and strategic. Firstly, academics at this level is simple and mostly narrative. Secondly, there is little peer pressure. Lastly, there is hardly any competitive pressure. Therefore, strategically, efforts are made to motivate students into such mentoring. This becomes practically impossible as a student reaches class 11-12th, inter-college. It is attributed to numerous aberrations prevalent in the society, discussed earlier. Moreover, once a student discontinues education in mathematics and science, in inter-college, it becomes extremely difficult for him to choose any stream of further education that requires qualification in these subjects in class 12th. It is, therefore, considered to be imperative to provide adequate foundation of mathematics in high school. Such a mentoring, in this initiative, is done slowly with simple and real-life examples to make the subject matter homely. It works well as long as a student is not influenced by short-cuts, a very difficult proposition for a mentor. Advantage of getting mentored in such a manner is to students only; they find themselves on spring-board to take off at the competitive stage in inter-college when other students are unequipped to pursue mathematics and physics. It is disappointing to observe that despite contributions of many stalwarts in education and academics, academic growth of students in the two subjects, as per prevalent curriculum, continues to remain out of synch. This compels students to resort to rote-learning, which is most undesirable. In IOMS an attempt is made to overcome their repulsion and phobia for the subjects. Among several processes one of them is mentoring mathematics and physics together by same mentor with match-and-mix of the subject matter for logical connectivity.  Moreover, it facilitates them to learn of physics in right in high-school with an ability to reason How? And Why? of the concepts. It helps to develops among students an affinity for the subjects, rather than learning just with the answers i.e. What is it? It is an effort to facilitate intuitive learning by students. As per academic curriculum until now, this effort may look to be extravagant, but it definitely equips students with building blocks for their journey into excellence in a manner which is enjoyable and smooth. In absence of this, learning in inter-college is bumpy, generally frustrating and futile, despite availability of best of the tutors, coaches, teachers and mentors.


Complementing of Efforts: IOMS is neither exclusive to schools nor it is a parallel schooling. It is an initiative volunteered with PSR to complement efforts of teachers in schools. Therefore, in the beginning of association of any school in IOMS, it is made explicit to them that involvement of teachers of schools in IOMS is essential. The unique features of IOMS on one hand relieves teachers at schools from taking the concepts out-of-the-box; on the other side they have an opportunity to assimilate philosophy IOMS. In addition to this, involvement of teachers, in the process, to hold tutorial sessions helps students to interact with them freely and develop proficiency in application of concepts and problem solving. It is a win-win situation for all, the schools, teachers and students. This approach IOMS sails well as-long-as schools, teachers and parents are passionately inspired about education, as discussed earlier. Otherwise, initial enthusiasm to IOMS damps out quickly.


Grooming Self-Confidence: Confidence and will power grow together, and not in a leap.  Therefore, in the beginning every learner in IOMS is advised daily to make small targets and work on it until completed. It may demands skipping a meal or a sleep. It may sound cruelty to children. But, one who practices it improves upon self-assessment, which in turn helps to regulate targets on following days. Once, a target is achieved the process reverses and the persons get on to the front foot to frame higher targets with a confidence to accomplish it. It is ability of self-assessment, accomplishing targets and solving problems for the larger good that differentiates individuals. Continuation of this practice becomes his habit, nature and personality of an individual.


Learning and Meditation: It is experienced that obsession at learning is similar to meditation. Learning is primarily a positive activity. There are two ways of learning one is through practice and the other is through observation and experimentation. Lorentz Transformation in late 19th century formed basis of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity in early 20th century. The theories were experimentally verified a few decades later. These equations and theories were purely results of pursuit of prevalent knowledge by posing contradictory arguments. This gave rise to new phrase Thought Experiment, quite impressive. But, a little insight into our ancient scriptures and sciences reveal that many of the theories, conventions and practices are seen to be having scientific reasoning. But, our ancient Rishis, Maharishis and Bramharshis did not have any kind of laboratory of sorts, being used in this highly scientific and technological world. A closer insight into it reveals that, those ancient researchers were great thought experimenter. They viewed human body as a minuscule Bramh. Based on their experiences, in respect of changes in different variables, on their body they propounded various theories known as Vedic science. They used meditation as a process of visualizing these experiences. This is the power of visualization.  It is too big a subject, to be dealt with so briefly. Yet, here a tangential reference is essential to make a point of relevance on essentiality of the thought experiments and visualization during learning and it being promoted among students, in IOMS, to invoke intuitive learning.


Spirituality:  Learning is a spiritual experience for both the learner and mentor. A good mentor is, at first hand a good student as well as an explorer. This process needs to be continued with 3Ps. In this self-discipline s a role of a regulator. Spirituality is pursuit of truth. It is always for the larger good; it is unbound, unbiased and non-discriminative. It has its roots are in ancient verses “…..वसुधैव कुटुंबकम” and “सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः.….”. This thought process gave rise to oldest center of knowledge and learning for people all across the world called विश्व विद्यालय in ancient India. IOMS, is a pigmy effort in this world full of advances in every field. Yet, it is an effort to maintain spirituality on these ancient principles, in a selfless manner.


Conclusions: We are benefited with a rich legacy of Vedic Era. We have greater responsibility to uphold that wellbeing is none’s propriety. Each one of us has right to live free, think free and freedom of expression. But, this right is valid as long as one individually or in plurality does not encroach upon freedom of others. Taking these virtues ahead we ought to grow on Win-Win principle, a necessity to coexist. It is only the education that will wipe away stigma of wrongs, if any, committed by one’s ancestors. True education grooms a person in humility, compassion; it is like a tree laden with fruit. In absence of this it is simply literacy. Such a literacy may manifest in intelligent expression, but worthless to persons around. Such persons are dishonest on intellectual, professional and moral scales. At some stage family compulsions and survival needs might retard either education or goodness acquired through education. In fact, it is the restraining force, in real life, which is necessary to regulate engagement of inspired mentors and learners. He too has a family and it must be respected by all. Let us all, teachers and mentors, take a resolve that we will inspire our students into learning experience and to inculcate in them the joy of learning.


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