Heritage Xperiential Learning School’s believes that the process of education is all about nurturing, in each child, a life-long love for learning. To this end, we deliberately eschew the traditional schooling and learning processes, focusing instead on individual pedagogies and narratives that are intrinsic to truly progressive schools. We actively encourage questioning of conventional mental models and assumptions. The focus is entirely on the holistic development of the child. The pedagogy emphasises active understanding and knowledge-building rather than passive rote learning. At Heritage Xperiential Learning School’s, we believe in project-oriented class work, hands-on experiential learning, and an integrated curriculum which underscores the relationship and inter-dependence of diverse people, places and ideas.
Heritage Xperiential Learning School is affiliated with the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) up to the senior secondary level (Grade 12). From academic year 2014-15, we are offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme for Grades 11 and 12, alongside our existing CBSE programme. Recognised as the leader in international education, IB fosters the knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable students to excel in university and life in the workforce. The Heritage curriculum is based on the recommended curriculum set by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and it takes into account the recommendations made by NCERT in the National Curriculum Framework (NCF 2005). It is designed by our own teachers with the guidance of experts from all around the world, providing enough scope for children to explore, inquire and experience themselves and the world around them. You can visit the NCERT website at www.ncert.nic to familiarise yourself with their recommendations.
In essence, the school likes to draw a clear distinction between building competence, excellence and competition itself. While most traditional schools of thought believe that competition is essential for excellence, there is reasonable evidence otherwise in research in human psychology.
At Heritage, we focus on building abilities and capabilities and categorically resist the “winner takes it all” mind-set. The students learn from each other, learn together and explore the immense possibilities that open up on the heels of a so-called ‘failure’.
More specifically, for the Junior Programme students, we do not advocate competition or comparison of any sort. For the Middle School, we introduce platforms for group and individual events which are principally geared towards participation and not towards one-upmanship. In the Senior School, the focus is on specialisation and achieving excellence for which we again create opportunities for children to push themselves towards the realisation of their highest potential. At this level, we also selectively participate in inter-school sports tournaments, exhibits, contests such as robotics and language competitions, and events such as the Model United Nations (MUNs).
We have a strong culture of celebration and events that provide platforms for different forms of student expression. While we do work hard to bring standards of excellence into anything we do, these events are designed to maximise participation and collaboration for the benefit of all students. We recognise that there is a fine line between performance and exhibitionism.
We do not endorse large performances to showcase individuals or glorify achievements of a minor group, nor is it valid to make children miss learning-time for months of practice to stage a massive show where they have minor walk-on parts. Students’ performances are not for the sake of pleasing parents superficially, but about showcasing genuine learning.
We invest the students’ time wisely in organising non-competitive festivals which are driven purely by the motive of student learning. The events and presentations are opportunities for children to share things they do and learn as part of daily curricular programme. One such example is our yearly art festival which is a celebration of our students’ work done during the year. It also provides a platform for our students, parents and invited guests from other schools, to be exposed to various artists and art forms. The art fest culminates in a community celebration that is designed to be organised entirely by students.
It is rather detrimental to limit curious minds to only text book learning. We sincerely believe that the entire world should be the text book for children. Hence, the Junior School does not rely on prescribed textbooks. Children are taught through thoughtfully designed learning units as well as carefully chosen workbooks and supplementary materials that reinforce skills and concepts. These are supported by material from class libraries, teacher created resources, and a graded reading programme that includes age- appropriate literature.
In the Middle and Senior Schools, textbooks are introduced as reference books, alongside primary source documents, supplementary reading materials, research projects and real-life examples. Rather than passively accepting facts and conclusions in the books, they learn to challenge and question received wisdom, thereby becoming curious enquirers of life!
It is true that until Grade 8, Heritage Xperiential Learning School does not use a formal examination system. There is, however, a very careful and systematic assessment process deigned to ensure that parents, teachers and, most importantly, students themselves know how well they are progressing based on a clear set of standards and benchmarks across all subject areas at each grade level.
At Heritage Xperiential Learning School, we understand that each child learns differently at his/her own pace and carries different and unique capabilities. The process of our assessment enables us to understand children’s learning, their challenges and strengths. Children are involved in reflecting about their own learning on various aspects beyond the cognitive realm, ensuring autonomy and ownership of their own learning. The process of consistent feedback helps in making assessments a more continuous and enriching process.
Each topic has a set of predetermined, carefully-detailed learning targets, and each student is graded according to whether she/he has met or exceeded the target or is still approaching the objective but need more time or support. Evaluations are done on a regular basis. Several tools, which include rubrics, teacher/parent observations, self and peer evaluation, are used to assess learning. The focus is on assessment for learning rather than on learning for assessment.
In addition to internal assessments, Heritage Xperiential Learning School works with partners including Educational Initiatives (EI) to design formative assessments aligned to learning targets as well as the curriculum goals outlined in the NCERT and CBSE. These tests are administered to students in English, mathematics, science and Hindi to ensure that essential skills and concepts are covered seamlessly during the transition from middle school to high school. The school also participates in the Asset test, administered by EI to thousands of students at the best schools across India, providing a benchmark against which Heritage students continued to perform in the top percentiles.
The formative and summative assessments at Heritage Xperiential Learning School are in remarkable alignment with CBSE’s latest guidelines on Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE).
Learning at Heritage Xperiential Learning School is not restricted to the four walls of the classroom. Various outdoor experiences are designed for students regularly within the projects and themes they work on and are directly linked to the grade level learning goals. In contrast to ‘school trips’, these expeditions provide real hands-on opportunities to learn about people, places and cultures, to see how things work and to develop a systemic understanding of different habitats and systems.
These learning opportunities begin in the Junior Programme and continue through to Grade 12 and may also include experts who conduct seminars and workshops, as well as trips off campus for service projects and other community-based activities, including wilderness excursions that bring students in contact with the natural world as well as diverse communities.
It is, therefore, mandatory that every student participate in these expeditions. These expeditions help children to conquer fears and also to build necessary life skills which, for the older students, become part of the Formative Assessments.
Heritage Xperiential Learning School believes that all children should be given an equal opportunity to learn and play together. More importantly, we believe that, as a learning community, it is our responsibility to support each of our students in reaching their own goals, at their own pace and according to their own highest purpose for which their unique talents and abilities best equip them. At the same time, we expect students to respect and appreciate what is unique in each of their classmates, learning to work collaboratively to ensure that each student is allowed and expected to contribute positively to the community.
Inclusion does not mean that we treat all children the same; on the contrary, supporting each child means that, while we treat all children equally, we also recognise that children do not develop at the same rate, nor do they achieve success according to one standardised definition. We work from the fundamental belief that children reach understanding or mastery of the same concept or skill at different rates and that this is not only normal but desirable.
We take the necessary steps required to bring all children together to participate in educational, social and recreational activities. At Heritage Xperiential Learning School, inclusion of children with special needs takes place keeping in mind the best interest of each child, which is based on critical assessment and identification of the need of each child. We believe in identifying the innate potential of each child and honing these abilities, at the same time looking for the hidden interests of the child. This also means that we hold all of our students to high standards of excellence and achievement.
Clearly, parents are critically important and their support will make all the difference. At its most fundamental level, the parent-school relationship has to be based on trust. And trust comes only from understanding. Hence, it is imperative for parents to understand the school’s philosophy and teaching methodology.
We recognise that most adults have gone through the traditional system of education and that our approach challenges many of their mental models about education. We try to redesign the mental models and align them more to our world view by organising interaction sessions and workshops for parents. We hold around three to four workshops plus four to five individual and group interactions per year. These workshops happen across the entire schooling years of the student. Participation in such workshops and interactive sessions is mandatory.
Parents are also invited to contribute by volunteering for different events in school such as outbound trips, story week, classroom support, co-curricular activities and more.
Disclaimer : All efforts have been made to exclude photographs of children whose parents did not grant us permission, any inclusion is inadvertent and regretted
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