Kunskapsskolan Bangalore used the Nobel week to awaken its children to the incredible possibilities that lie ahead of them in this age of interconnected and interdisciplinary learning.
To be an educationist in the 21st century is a lot like being a polymath during the Renaissance Age – you look for connections everywhere.
One such interesting connection emerged a few days ago, when I visited Kunskapsskolan’s school in Bangalore. A globally renowned Swedish group of schools, the Kunskapsskolan in Bangalore provides K12 education that blends India’s CBSE curriculum with innovative teaching and learning methodologies. The secret sauce behind this powerhouse combination? Its revolutionary KED program.
Kunskapsskolan Bangalore had organized a Nobel Week to inspire their children to derive inspiration from the astonishing work that Nobel Laureates had produced in areas like science, literature, economics and medicine. The idea was to sow a tiny seed that would one day find the right opportunity to shine.
A day before visiting the school, I had read an interesting study conducted a few years ago by the Michigan State University. It linked a child’s work in art, music and craft to the number of patents and businesses they launched as adult scientists. In other words, working with art produces the best scientists!
More than just cross-curricular
At the Nobel Week presentation at Kunskapsskolan, I took a tour of the work that the students had done and the work really brought to mind MSU’s study. The children had spent the entire Nobel week working with skills and material relating to the work of Nobel laureates and their disciplines.
At Kunskapsskolan, art is treated like any core subject. Like language and math, the students use it to help their metacognitive processes and to define their knowledge and learning.
Display of work by students of Kunskapsskolan during the Nobel Week
A lot of the children’s work conflated math and art, social studies and science. Another wonderful observation was that the children were always making, prototyping and creating things and were always using their hands to make new material.
For example, I was really struck by the device that they had invented to create art through the movement of a paper cup. The projects that combined social studies and science brought in a human angle to the study of a natural phenomenon.
Swedish design meets Indian talent
Here’s another connection. Alfred Nobel was from Sweden. He also wrote a play!
For their Nobel Day program, they had Anna Marmgard, the former master of ceremonies during the Nobel festivities in Stockholm, as their guest speaker! There was a collective gasp from the audience of parents as this was announced.
“We promote lifelong learning, from early years to research. We want every child to feel that everything is possible, even a Nobel prize!”
Says Kiki Jerneheim, Head of the School
Ms. Marmgard talked about her work with the students from all over the world, who came to Sweden to help organize the Nobel ceremony, including helping Laureates give speeches during the banquet! She delighted us an interesting story about an Israeli Laureate who could not travel in a car because of the Sabbath and who went everywhere by foot, causing the Israeli Secret Service to have quite a time of it at Stockholm!
The Nobel Day program was an intriguing combination of different cultures. Children sang songs by Swedish DJ Avicii and they also performed songs and dances in Kannada, Tamil and Hindi. There was a wonderful panel discussion led by students enacting as Nobel Laureates and expressing their thoughts on modern medicine. I was especially heartened to see their emphasis on medicine and mental health! The highlight of the program was the performance of Post Office, a play by India’s Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore.
“My son knew his scripts for the Nobel Day performance but when I probed him, he knew so much more about Nobel laureates and their work. He used to be in a traditional school in Gurgaon and was shy and introverted. This school transformed him completely.”
Says Rajiv Verma, father to a fourth-grader at the school
We live in exciting times and schools like Kunskapsskolan encourage children to look for opportunities everywhere, especially in roads less travelled!
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