My name is Avikant Bhardwaj and I am a fellow at Teach For India. I teach 38 extremely curious grade 8 students at Government Higher Primary School Kadapaswamy Mutt. My background includes a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mathematics & Computing from IIT Delhi, along with over five years of experience as a quantitative analyst at some of the top investment banks before leaving it all to join the Teach for India fellowship.
Most of my students come from impoverished communities around Vijayanagar Educational Block in Bangalore. They are the children of daily labourers and factory workers who work long hours for minimum wages. However, my students do not let their backgrounds define or restrict them. They are highly motivated and are able to articulate their future aspirations of either becoming policemen, scientists, or even the next Prime Minister of India.
These aspirations are what drives them to come to school every day. They come into my classroom to learn and work with me to find a way to eventually achieve their goals. While one can admire and applaud their motivation, one can also see the crushing reality of the place they come to in search of an impetus. The classrooms in my school are tiny and cramped; They are piled with antediluvian racks and desks which are laborious to move around and are sometimes hazardous to sit in. The blackboards are worn out and certain areas are even completely unusable. 90% of our classrooms have no technology available to use in them. How is a child supposed to come into this environment and be able to attain an excellent education? How are teachers supposed to prepare children for the 21st century in classrooms like these? What can I, as an educator, do to help these children and best equip them for the future?
One may assume that simply adding a few benches and a blackboard would resolve this issue, but such solutions do not take into account modern views on education and the idea that our students must be prepared for tomorrow. Transforming education today requires educators to shed the traditional notion of a teacher imparting knowledge to their wards and instead turn to the idea of a teacher as a facilitator helping students realise their creative potential and instiling within them the confidence to face uncertainty. We need classrooms that encourage teamwork, creativity and dynamism - spaces where students learn from their peers and learn to ask the right questions. My goal is to create a space where students feel safe, comfortable and excited. It is my firm belief that the learning space should embody the variety of learning within. Our 20th-century infrastructure will simply not do for the future, and to this end, I have partnered with The Better Design Foundation (TBDF).
1. The Better Design Foundation conducted Design Thinking sessions with the students in my classroom to understand their needs better. The students came up with some great ideas and insights to help us design improvement in the best possible way. Please see this video to get a glimpse of the session.
2. The improvement model plan has been created by The Better Design Foundation (please see image below). It allows for improved movement in the classroom, increased mode of information dissemination, greater visibility for the teacher, and a lot more conducive environment for collaborative learning.
Teach For India