Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Healing Habitat

How did your time in school shape the person you are today? For most of us it was the most significant part of our childhood. Yet we somehow have a tough time recalling the grades we got or the syllabus we covered but what we truly remember are those brief yet deep rooted moments like the ones where we celebrated our first victory or faced fear in the eye or when we made bonds that would last a lifetime.

If it’s so evident that as adults we look back at how we felt in school as compared to how we fared in school. Then shouldn’t schools value emotions in the same way they value math and reading? It is this intriguing question that led educators of Seth M.R Jaipuria School put on their thinking caps.
The Healing Habitat was just an idea, an idea born out of a compelling urge to provide kids an outlet to express their emotions. A place where being authentic selves was more important than being popular selves.

We began our 7 day journey by taking a patch of bare land in the school campus and giving our enthusiastic students the ownership to take it forward. Giving kids an opportunity for experiential learning brought about outcomes that went far and beyond a mere textbook lesson. It was fascinating to watch multi-age grouping in real play where middle schoolers took up leadership roles and mentored students of higher grades. The sense of dignity of labour was quite visible when we observed students brainstorming with our service staff; be it our gardeners to learn about which plants would thrive in the current season to our carpenters teaching them about measurements and aesthetics in wood-work.

Today the Healing Habitat is much more than we ever imagined it to be. It’s not just another place in school instead it is a symbol of hope, optimism and most importantly dedication to achieve the unthinkable.

The Garden of Kindness

If you can be anything, be kind. Every time you go out of the way to help the other person in need you get to plant a sapling in the garden of kindness. 

The Tree of Self-Forgiveness
Forgiving yourself is the first step to accepting yourself. The tree of self-forgiveness asks you to write what you forgive yourself for. This space of acknowledging imperfections boosts our self-confidence.

The Let It Go Pond
Sometimes as adults we teach kids that certain emotions are ‘bad’ and they should be repressed. But the truth is each emotion has in it itself the power to change oneself and thus we ask children to identify one thing they would like to let go off .Pick a marble write on it and drop it in the pond and see it disappear. This symbolic way helps us to realize that the power to improve oneself lies within.

The Gratitude Tree
The tree of gratitude is a gentle reminder to all of us that no matter how busy our lives may be there is always something we can be thankful for.

The Tree of Silence
The tree of silence provides shade for introspection and meditation. It is especially useful during conflict resolution where we encourage children to reflect upon their actions by observing a moment of silence.

At Seth M.R Jaipuria School we believe in creating learning spaces under the leadership of children so as to instill in them the courage to bring forth their ideas of change; The Healing Habitat is one such example.A constant reminder to all of us that we adults have still so much to learn from our children.

Anam Zaidi
Counselling Psychologist
Seth M.R Jaipuria School

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