I joined Teach For India as a Fellow in 2009. Our vision is that ‘one day all children will attain an excellent education.’
For two years I taught and learned from a group of children from the poorest sections of society, in a school that had no toilets, crumbling infrastructure, and even the occasional snake in the classroom. It is unbelievably unfair that because of the economic conditions our students are born into, and the lack of extremely basic amenities, our students do not have the opportunity to discover their full potential. But this did not stop us.
Our class was called the ‘Explorers.’ We believed in asking countless questions, exploring new ideas, building perseverance, being incredibly confident, and learning how to make critical choices for ourselves. My students learned and grew so much and truly showed me what they were capable of achieving if they received the right opportunities.
To deepen our understanding of how children learn best, we at Teach For India worked with a group of children, in partnership with artists on Broadway, to put up the Maya Musical. It served as a demonstration of what is possible for children from low-income backgrounds with no previous exposure to the arts.
One of our many lessons from the Maya journey was that if we want to reach that ‘One Day,’ children must be equal partners in our fight for educational equity, and their voice must be as important as ours, if not more so. Our role must be to catalyze the development of our students into leaders, and then accelerate and amplify their impact.
At Teach For India, we believe that an excellent education is one that empowers student leadership towards a contextual collective vision of expanded opportunities for ALL students. We believe that student leadership is built through an integration of three aspects – academic achievement, values and mindsets, and access and exposure.
As a first step to this, we must equip our children to succeed in the current educational system, while unleashing their ability and desire to transform it into something infinitely superior.
Ensuring that our students have access to opportunities that enable them to find (and use) their voice, discover their passions, explore their values, and build a deep understanding of themselves and their worlds, will allow our children to do this.
The videos below will show you glimpses of what is possible for our children to achieve when they begin to explore their fullest potential.
Do write to me if you would like to know more about our work with Maya, exploring Student Leadership, or would like access to educational resources to use with more children!