What makes a Labschool different from other schools?
Learning is a process that cannot be forced into the mind of a child. It should be freely and generously introduced to young, impressionable minds if for the knowledge to be gained. With schools getting more stringent about aspects like curriculum, academics, activities, discipline, and examination practices, there seems to be little place for an individual to grow naturally.
John Dewey, an American psychologist, philosopher, and educational reformer said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” He believed that human beings are able to learn through natural adaptation, and should be allowed to interact with their environment, rather than telling them what to do and how to do. His notion was that children too could do the same and that they don’t just always mimic as it is mostly believed. Dewey, therefore, introduced the concept of a Labschool.
Labschools use specialized methods of teaching and learning by taking the leverage of children’s natural impulses and abilities to help them learn. They are largely involved in three trajectories: training teachers and research students, developing and implementing teaching methods and models, and benefitting students through experiential learning. Experiential learning takes much dominance in the functioning of labschools.
Fundamental Principles of Labschools
Labschools have a set of principles and theories on which they function, based on which there are certain approaches that are followed, that are very different from regular schools. The fundamental principles that govern the labschool is based on the uniqueness of the child and the development of knowledge among the students that is never-ending. Each child is seen as an exceptional being capable of learning through observation and interaction. The inherent potential in them makes them receive experiences and learn to apply the knowledge gained through them.
In order to help them achieve that, there has to be a teacher who merely guides the children through personalized attention and promoting inclusiveness. This is also why the student-teacher ratio is maintained at the minimal level.
The goal reached through this is not the completion of a strict given curriculum like a regular school, but to inculcate the spirit of learning continually, and along the way, gain insights about self, emotional maturity, developing appropriate social skills, be sensitive and respect differences, and know the nuances of self-esteem and self-criticism. Unlike other schools, at a Labschool, the concept of learning from mistakes and non-violent interaction is part of the learning process, not just extra skills that are taught. In fact, teachers are trained to see mistakes and errors as opportunities to fine-tune attitudes and teach kids.
Approaches of Labschools
Labschools strive to achieve the goals they chart out through approaches that are quite varied in nature, yet all pointing to the same purpose. They design and create dynamic classrooms to help improve and build children's learning capabilities and well-being. For them, it is imperative to follow in the footsteps of a greater vision that results in international collaboration and enhances the rate of inclusiveness for every student in the class.
This is carried out through hands-on teaching methods, practices, and values that highly influence the final result of applying the above-mentioned principles effectively. The dominant approach used is experiential learning that greatly determines what level of interaction a specific child is at.
Problem-solving is an interesting concept that most schools use today. This is in fact, another concept that Dewey explored. He introduced how, in a routine (a continuous interaction with an environment), if there was some form of an interruption, the child would stop, analyze the "problem", search for a solution, chart out a feasible strategy, and then try to implement it to do away with the interruption. Through this process, children would learn and develop coping with situations, retaining & retrieving relevant information, and think of alternatives and methods to accomplish the task.
To enhance these components, children are placed into a variety of environments by taking them on short excursions to parks, farms, factories, libraries, zoos, and museums, to nurture and expand a greater understanding beyond the familiar. This will also help to encourage them to refer to knowledge and experiences of past generations.
What happens to children at Labschools?
The result of such an approach is greatly beneficial to children’s growth - emotionally, socially, and intellectually – that it begins to form a connection between the past and present experiences of their life, making the entire task of dealing with life much more coherent. Children are much more focused in their approach to their everyday life, having relevance as the key here. Self-expression and self-awareness are built strong. Practicality being the scope of every learning, the family-like and relaxed learning environment mobilizes social agility and interaction on a more positive curve.
The lessons at a labschool, are not only centered on issues related to basic human needs like food, clothing, and shelter, but also to give them an enhanced over-all development. The tasks are proposed based on these. The major spheres of a child’s development, namely, emotional, mental or intellectual, social, spiritual or moral, physiological, and speech & expression, all fall under the spectrum of overall development. With the natural problem-solving nature inside every child, the learning outcome automatically includes the skills of reading, writing, and numeracy.
Since labschools restrict the student-teacher ratio, the results are much more constructive. Discipline is, of course, intertwined within their approaches, which makes the atmosphere more liberal and stress-free, for both children and teachers.