Gone are the days when a class in History revolved around marking important portions in a textbook and listing out dates whose significance is not just historical but also for answering questions for examinations. When learning about a country in Geography was about marking its rivers and mountains, states and capitals. The days when a lesson in Civics had an ocean of words sum up the roles and functions of various administrative institutions and governing authorities, frightening students for their lack of enough fingers to remember the points by.
At Ekya, a lesson in Social Science has our classrooms bustling with activities, having done away with marking lines and paragraphs in textbooks and bringing in the “Live the Lesson” experience. In this edition of Understanding Ekya Curriculum, we look at how these subjects are delivered in our classrooms by exploring the Ekya Social Science program designed by the Ekya Learning Centre.
Table of Contents
History for the young learners at Ekya doesn’t restrict them to learning about the past but gives them the opportunity to understand how and why they should learn about it.
This is achieved by having ‘research about the past’ as the pulse of the history class – students think like historians, posing real questions, finding resources, interpreting information, reporting what they find. They even conduct interviews with friends, neighbours, and family. This inquiry-approach to learning about the past begins at the tender age of first graders, working on the curiosity of our young children.
Students at Ekya imagine themselves to be in the shoes of historical characters or present at significant events during the course of History. They give their own opinions on how they would have dealt with the situation if they had really been there.
Before the fourth graders went about exploring the Indus civilization, they were given an opportunity to understand how historians try and find out what happened in the past. After understanding why kingdoms and empires grew in India, our children from Grade 5 sailed across the Mediterranean to explore how the people in a small island of Greece started a culture that has had an enormous impact in the modern world.
History is not just about devouring pages of facts and information. It encourages young minds to understand the past, in order to fully appreciate themselves, and others. It helps them understand the present and contribute to planning for the future. It helps them shape opinions about what happened in the past which they reproduce in form of journals, letters, and narratives.
At Ekya, we don’t just focus on the content of what they learn in class. We are helping our children get familiar with factual knowledge and give them opportunities to nurture the skills required to harvest such information – if they are not familiar with a specific historical reference, they should be able to locate it in place and time, know how to find sources of information and evaluate them, familiarize themselves with context and grasp the significance of the reference.
While our students study the physical and political divisions of India and the Continents of the World, the learning doesn’t stop there. Geography at Ekya, allows students to understand the importance of the Environment.
Action plans for protecting natural and human environments are given voice within the four walls of every Geography class, chalked about by students after gathering a plethora of resources and research material. They learn how to submit plans to save, restore or conserve a place and its environment
Geography at Ekya is about
Introduced from Grade 3, civics and citizenship is aimed at facilitating the attitudes, values, and dispositions students need to fully participate as active citizens in their communities.
As one of their activities, our third graders play a game without rules to understand the significance of rules and that one should be responsible for one’s own actions. They explore the meaning of democracy by collaborating to frame rules for their own classroom. They become aware of their rights and responsibilities and learn to appreciate the need for making decisions democratically.
Students in Grade 4 understand the meaning of a Government and how it works, at the grassroots, also exploring the differences between rules and laws.
Principles of duty and responsibility are conveyed at Ekya through storytelling. Planning games and making rules for the whole class allows students to comprehend the concepts of the subject. Once they realize their responsibilities as a citizen, and the basic functions of the government, the children then take up projects to solve problems that plague their neighbourhoods. They conduct interviews and collaborate to find a practical solution to resolve these issues.
Our Grade 5 students participate in a role-play to understand which is the best form of government by imagining that they are stranded on an island. Here, they understand how governance works when they are to manage everybody else who are stranded with them on the same island. Through this activity, the students put different forms of governments under the lens, understanding why democracy has become the most popular form of government in the world.
To know more about what each grade covers in the Social Science program, do have a look at our course descriptions through the links below:
Through the process of Design Thinking, students brainstorm, categorize, organize information, conduct research and interviews, ideate and make prototypes that solve real-world problems. They work with multiple perspectives, learn to access and make sense of information, apply critical thinking and intuition, iteratively learn from failure and create solutions that integrate the emotional and the analytical.Brainstorm After an introductory activity set the ball rolling, our fourth graders huddled for several rounds of brainstorming. A number of ideas floated across the classroom, some revolving around Universal Dustbins to banishing waste to space and particular planets; others explored the possibility of bots segregating waste at its source. The students even offered to incentivize efficient waste management by proposing a machine that allows children to play games if and when they segregate their waste properly. Observation An integral part of Design Thinking is observation as it enables the students to understand the gravity of the challenge they are dealing with, the key factors that they have to consider while ideating and creating their prototypes and the roadblocks they may face in the process. Our children met and observed Pourkamikas, members of BBMP who help segregate waste on the streets, They even keenly observed their own family members at home, peers in class and support staff at the school, jotting down copious observations Interviews With their observations recorded, the children grabbed the opportunity of interviewing the Asst. Commissioner of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike(BBMP), shooting a wide range of questions on the administrative body - from its objective, how it feels to work at BBMP to whether BBMP had studied other municipalities to understand best practices that Bangalore can adopt. Using their observation and interview material, with references from newspaper articles about Bangalore's waste management, user empathy maps were made. These maps helped the students arrive at interesting points of view: - People tend to litter their surrounding plot or vacant grounds in their neighbourhoods because of a lack of dedicated space. - Waste is not segregated at source because people may not be patient enough to deal with the procedure or that they do not like handling dustbins or the odour that comes with it. Feedback Having studied the user empathy maps closely, the students arrived at the decision of focussing on specific users, to solve challenges specific to them. They created designs and blueprints for products and ideas, sharing it with the entire class for feedback. During this session, students offered critique, also taking the time to share their appreciation of what they liked about each project. Prototyping With ideas in place, blueprints finalized, the teams proceeded to build their prototypes. Described by many as their favourite part of the design thinking, our children had a riot putting together their models. Some had to deal with conflicts within their team over material, individual responsibilities or bringing the whole team on board to go with an idea - which they addressed democratically. Once ready, the models were proudly displayed for user testing by teachers and other teams. With the showcase done, the students reflected on their journey with design thinking, exchanging notes on the impact their models would have on the city's garbage crisis and also exploring what they wanted to do differently.
The dustbins have the facility for children to put waste into four categories (dry, wet, hazardous and sanitary). They punch in their name whenever they dump waste. A bot would monitor the process and submit a report to the teacher on children segregating waste consistently. There are specific monthly rewards for children segregating waste properly like extra PE periods.