Let us meet Krishnaveni, who has a deep passion to love, observe, enjoy, and get lost in the wild. ( nature)
Krishna Veni hails from LifeScience background with MSc in Botany from Madras Christian College. Her way of learning is majorly through nature, making me a silent and deep observer. She decided to bring this amazing style (learning through nature) of education to children and hence joined Pitchandikulam forest, a unit of Auroville, as an Environmental Educator.
She has worked as Environmental Educator for more than 2 years and explored designing teaching manuals, curated classroom & field learning sessions using different pedagogies and experiential education methods for children(10-14 yr olds) from around 5 schools in Chennai, and was also involved in the restoration work carried out by the organization.
1. Do tell us how you got interested in the field of education
I had always questions in my mind when I was schooling such as:
‘Why am I going to school?’
‘Why is that none of the stuff that I learn in my class is useful for my life?’
‘Why isn’t my school taking me for field trips to study?’
With these unanswered questions, I landed in MCC and met a professor named Dr. Narasimhan D. He was the one who initiated the process of self-learning and self-understanding for the first time in my life. His classroom sessions were filled with story-telling, quotes, wild endeavors, and whatnot, I’ve never skipped one of his class and actually waited for those hours. I didn’t learn much of Botany from him but I learned the art of facilitating education amongst students. If I would become a facilitator in the future I wanted to become like him. And not to forget, his style of facilitation was the first time that I ventured into nature – to study and understand about it, my life took a huge u-turn because of this style.
Dr. Narasimhan D helped me to get an internship with an organization (ATREE in Banglore) at Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, which is a beautiful rainforest in Tirunelveli with Thamirabharani traversing through the forest. In the forest, I met another interesting researcher – Dr. Ganesan R from ATREE. He taught me about the forest – completely on the field and those were the best days of my life, by exploring a bountiful forest with tigers hanging around us.
These incidents made me think, how interesting it would be for children around me to learn in such a way – outdoor adventure education + sensible hands-on classroom education.
2. Please illustrate your teaching experience.
My teaching experience begins probably from the age of 13, the time when I began to make presentations in front of my class. I’ve always wanted to take a class where the entire class would be engaged and also to add a bit of humor, but I didn’t have any idea of how to do it.
Only in the last 2 years, I had learned about education and facilitation from my colleagues, experiential education classes, and various other professionals. And also a major chunk of learnings from the kids, the teachers, and the schools, I worked with.
I had worked with a spectrum of children from low-income groups, the middle-income group as well as high-income groups and a spectrum of schools such as government school, matriculation school, and private school.
Apart from facilitating children, I have also done a few sessions for adults as well.
3. How was your lockdown experience initially and how do you feel about the lockdown now
Thanks for this question Priya!!!
In the beginning, I personally enjoyed the lockdown, but as days passed it is becoming a burden to carry. My house is located near Royapuram and it’s a bit strict here because it is designated as a red-zone. I hate concrete jungles in the first place and now also hating the eerie absolute silence near my house which is so unusual because our place is always filled with noise.
Also, traveling is my anti-depressant and now I have lost that freedom completely which is actually driving me insane but still I am making all efforts to understand the current situation and also find hope in these depressing times.
The kinds of stuff that is making me go crazy are all these environment clearances that our government has done within these few months. With climate change already approaching, these inhumane activities and aimless activities make me feel down.
4. What do you think are the advantages that happened to students due to the lockdown
Before schools officially started
- Children had begun to explore pieces of stuff that they like online
- They got involved in activities such as art, music, craft, games and etc that they found fun
- Online games with friends made them feel less sad about missing their friends
- Parents actually understood more about their children since they spent most of their time at home – which would have helped kids in various ways
After schools have officially started I am not seeing a lot of advantages.
5. What do you think are the disadvantages that happened to students due to lockdown?
I am beginning to see a lot of disadvantages only after schools started:
- Too much of screen time in the name of gaining an education – some schools have more than 6 hours of classes and then children are asked to submit homework which also should be done online – serious health issues can affect children and the teachers
- Again the race has begun to get good marks in the final exams – too much of added on stress for the children with the corona issue
- Children have been asked to wear uniforms during the online class – is it really important stuff during these depressing times?
- Still, children are not getting educated on why such a pandemic has occurred, what has to be done scientifically to eradicate it, understanding the science and politics behind this pandemic, how to tackle the upcoming climate change and so on…. If children are again brought up without the current knowledge of what’s happening – they are going to suffer hugely in future (eg. groups of children are standing and talking in the street corners still now )
- Less privileged students are not having any kind of exposure to such online classes too, they are being left out
- Children are not having any self-time for themselves with parents always around – pressurizing them to keep learning or to keep themselves busy
6. What do you think are the benefits of e-learning
- If sessions are designed well by the teachers or online instructors – children will love learning and would come up with intriguing questions that will help their creativity, flexible-thinking, and problem-solving skills to grow
- The freedom to delve into any topic of interest will aid children in understanding their own interests
- Also, the freedom to attend online classes with any professional they love is the real benefit of e-learning (For eg. I attended a small discussion forum with Jairam Ramesh and other specialists in India, which was insightful and I have never thought that I could be part of such discussions too, and this happened because of e-learning)
7. What do you think are the harmful outcomes of e-learning?
- Too much of screen time and usage of headphones affecting children’s health
- Privileged children are listening to classes sitting inside AC rooms – leading to dehydration and other infections
- Children exposed to too much of unwanted information
- Children are doing very less physical activities – which has led to unhealthy food preferences that would have a greater impact on their health
8. Please let us what you envision education as in the post-lockdown world?
I would be really happy if the education system deals with current problems rather than only studying about the past or future – it should definitely involve how to live if climate change issues begin to happen. And especially on how to love nature and live sustainably with the environment so that we do not have face climate change first hand.
Even if online classes are the future, there should be less screen time and more hands-on activities, probably that they can do with kinds of stuff found in and around their home.
9. What would be your advice to kids?
My advice would be that kids and their parents have to speak up for themselves, if they hate online classes or if they love it, and the schools & government should validly take up their opinions and work on it. Education doesn’t necessarily have to happen just sitting in class (with uniforms on) and learning with a teacher!!!!