Friday, November 11, 2011

The XSEED Conference on the Future of School Education

Invited to be part of a panel discussion in the XSEED Conferenceon the future of school education by Himanshu of XSEED, who went to IIM'A, several years junior to my brother Ram. XSEED is a academic solution for schools that aims to increase student performance by improving classroom teaching methodologies. Currently XSEED's proprietary curriculum is taught in over 700 schools and reaches 3 lakh students and is vouched for highly by the schools that use it.

XSEED is part of iDisccoveri, an education company that focuses on learning, leadership and outdoor education. iDiscoveri is led by alumni of Harvard, Cambridge, IITs and IIMs. At the forefront of the organisation is Ashish Rajpal and Anustup Nayak, both Harvard alumni.

The material that XSEED has produced has certainly impacted the performance in schools that are following their carefully researched and developed curriculum going by the reports I have seen. XSEED follows a 5 step experiential learning method of Aim (learning objective), Activity (Experiment), Analyse (Questions and concept), Apply (Real life situation) and Assess (Measurement and feedback) Their figures and feedback are impressive and so is the work they have done to develop the curriculum, to get all stakeholders in education on board, to get thought leaders in the field to talk to school owners and managements and having XSEED conferences annually and bringing together over 1500 school principals and owners together across India through these conferences. I subscribe to their method as I believe there is no better teacher than experience - experiential learning is the best.

The conference took off at the Convention Hall in Hotel Marriott at 230 p.m. with a lamp lighting ceremony by Dileep Ranjekar, CEO, Azim Premji Foundation followed by a couple of well sung songs - one sanskrit hymn invoking Saraswati and an English song by children from a school in Kukatpally. A fine opening address by Dileep Ranjekar who shared many of his learnings in the field of school education in government schools with several wonderful examples was followed by our panel discussion on - What Matters for School Quality - Better Resources or Improved Methods. The panelists were Ms. Adilakshmi C, Principal, Oakridge International School, Anoop Rao, COO, Naandi Foundation, Vijay Prakash from Sri Prakash Educational Institutions and me. Preeti Singh, Principal Correspondent, CNN IBN, Hyderabad was the moderator - and did an excellent job. The discussion focused on several issues such as the quality expected from schools, importance of infrastructure and resource utilization, the urban and rural, rich and poor divide, government and private school differentiators, purpose of education, challenges faced and how to meet the same. The discussion was followed by a Q&A session.

It was a well organised event with almost 300 participants from schools and educators registering for the event. I met the Principal of Sanghamitra school in Kukatpally where my nephew Sashank studied. The program was MC'd very energetically by Himanshu himself and was scheduled to go on till 9 in the evening with case studies from a couple of schools, address by Ashish Rajpal, Founder and CEO of iDiscoveri, and the prime attraction of the event - the keynote address by Prof. Alison Gopnik, University of California, Berkely. I met several interesting personalities, heard some wonderful views and about some great work in the field of education and excused myself early to catch up with a prior commitment. Good luck iDiscoveri, XSEED and your entire team - Anustup, Himanshu, Shravani - whom I have met and all others and may you make a big difference in the way children benefit from education through better methods.


Madhav said...

How many of the XSEED alumini can get into IIT's.

I'm ofcourse being sarcastic.

Something like Xseed is very necessary to fix our school system.

Of all the engineers I hired, only one was an iit grad. And i fired him in six months. IIT's do not produce good engineers. All they produce are kids who know how to do really really well in an examination. A total waste of money in my opinion.

I read a lettet written by the british officer from Mangalore, i think, to the british pm during the british era. It said, and I paraphase, "I see kids with a great hunger for knowledge here. The kind of kids we see in our great learning institutions. We must not create leaders here we only need clerks. We must devise an education based on rote learning to make that happen. "

I read this in A book about Ramanujam, the mathematician. I'll look up the exact wording and thd guys name. But that is the same system we follow now. It must change.

Harimohan said...

I completely agree Madhav. This system is created to make clerks. It gradually reduces thinking, scientific enquiry, all forms of expression and makes dumb followers. We need leaders in thought, who ask questions, to do and think differently, who can express themselves fully. XSEED does stuff in that direction and there is a lot of good work in many areas as well. But its still too little - I am with Kapil Sibal on this. As for the IITs and IIMs they are under scrutiny because their intelligence seems limited to their own existence and not much original thought is coming out of there is terms of impact in the society. I'd love to read that letter.

Unknown said...

Hello sir,
i read the blog and also the comment of manav sir. I am coming up with a school in Gorakhpur (U.P.). Just wanted to know from you people that whether it will be good decision to implement xseed in a school which is in Tier 3 city. Since inception of the idea of school i always thought of giving activity and experienced based learning then i found this xseed which is a ready made solution to my problem. Please guide me through this.

Harimohan said...

Hi Abhishek, Thanks for writing in. What I saw of XSeed was impressive and am sure it will help certainly. It is a well researched piece of work. But I cannot comment on the cost effectiveness and its appropriateness in Gorakhpur in more detail because I do not have that kind of information. Suggest you contact the XSeed people in Delhi or even UP through their website and have a more detailed discussion. And I really wish you all the very best for your school and am sure you will do a wonderful job of it in shaping minds to achieve their true potential. Do keep me posted - if ever I am in Gorakhpur I would love to drop by and visit your school.