Many of the problems the world faces today are the result of a lack of cause-effect thinking including the spirit of enquiry, and creative problem finding and solving. Creativity in the face of complexity is the need of the hour. Simply put, most of us are not aware of the consequences of our actions because 1) we do not have the right thinking tools to act creatively, and to understand and believe that no problem is intractable, and 2) we are not motivated to act creatively and responsibly. To sustain change then, you have to change minds and attitudes fundamentally, which is not possible through our existing teaching-learning methods that rely on chalk-and-talk theory and rote learning.
We – that is, 1,600 members of the Agastya team – are triggering fundamental behavioural shifts in millions of students and schoolteachers through experiential learning. These shifts are from: yes to why, looking to learning to observe, passiveness to learning to explore, textbook-bound to hands-on, and fear to confidence. We are helping children and teachers form questioning, observant, active, caring and confident minds that can help/are helping to build a more sustainable world.
Our experiential learning approach induces critical thinking, creativity and collaborative skills in children and teachers, guiding them to become innovators and problem solvers in their communities. With our holistic learning approaches, our students learn to actively participate and become change agents. They contribute with their actions, instead of being passive citizens.
–As leaders/decision makers
We are continuing to build new and visionary models of learning that will increasingly rely on blended learning – that is, blending physical with digital learning. As the world copes with the pandemic, we have found multiple ways to engage with our beneficiaries digitally amidst the lockdown. We are using technology for continuing our work and it has enabled us to reach more beneficiaries at a lower cost per beneficiary.
As early as 2000, when we bought 172 acres of barren wasteland located about two hours away from Bengaluru, we had a vision to create an ecological preserve. That vision has become a reality, with the wasteland transforming into a medicinal park with several hundred endemic, near-extinct and extinct species of plants showing significant growth and enriching the biodiversity of the land. Our campus is self-sustaining and uses renewable energy (solar) as well as farming to meet some of the needs. We also follow the 5 Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle. Our Art Labs and Science Labs reuse discarded materials in new and innovative ways.
More than anything, the eco regeneration of the campus, which has been documented by a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, is a powerful metaphor for regenerating the mind and creating a new attitude and vision towards living sustainably on earth. The campus example has also spread and triggered the development of eco gardens in many of our science centres.