I was thirteen when I started homeschooling - that was an eye opening and a life changing event for me. The freedom to be able to do as I pleased, to sleep and get up when I wanted, to work on my Lego projects for however long I wanted; there was no better feeling like that of having a sense of control over my life.
But gradually, the first inexpressible joy of the freedom lost some of its value. Waking up at eleven o’clock in the morning no longer made me happy, nor did having to spend most of the day studying on my own. It worked out for sometime, studying with my Mom or Dad, but having to learn from a know-it-all got boring extremely quickly. I didn’t want to lose my freedom; I wanted to be able to pursue my hobbies, but I also wanted some company to study with, people with whom I could spend time to come up with answers. School was a definite no in my eyes, and the solution presented itself before long after Pavan Bhaiya visited my house.
A place which practiced discipline, encouraged hobbies and extracurricular activities, a center where kids of similar age with a similar outlook on education could come together and learn in a way different from the regular schools. All of this would eventually yield what we think is the purpose of education, good marks, but it gave me so much more. DLRC, DriveChange Learning and Resource Center. At the time I joined, there were only three other children of my age in ninth. And yet I found myself greatly enjoying being with them. I was now waking up and experiencing the urge to go to the center - something I hadn’t felt since the days of my old, awesome school in bangalore. The center was a house, and perhaps that was what made the place seem so warm and comfortable; it was no where close to a building with well defined rooms consisting of symmetrical benches and dull tube lights.
I feel a big factor for me enjoying DLRC so much was because I had taken the IGCSE board. The board itself was one which didn’t focus on rote learning, but made ways for students and teachers to delve deeper into and truly understand the concepts of science. And being in a place like DLRC which went so out of the way to explore this, only made the joy of learning so much more. Pavan Bhaiya wasn’t just teaching us the laws of physics in the textbook; he was increasing our knowledge of the Physics we used in our day to day lives by looking around and making projects of them. He gave us ideas that I would have never imagined or thought about. He suggested to research about how dogs drink water. This seemed boring to me at first, but when I saw the presentation of the project, I was genuinely surprised for having not known about something so interesting. In Biology we watched interesting videos, made 3D models of the digestive system and read a topic each and explained it to the rest of the class with the facilitator backing us up. When I noted that I was finding the IGCSE Math concepts easy, something that Ajay Uncle had noticed himself, we moved beyond the syllabus and learnt advanced concepts that we didn’t need to, but resulted in us understanding theorems and solving questions with easier methods and more confidence.
Facilitator - we were explicitly told many times that the adults there were not teachers, but facilitators. They weren’t there to control our lives, but to nudge us in the right direction, spur us on to explore and learn more. And by having a peer group, the intensity of this feeling was only amplified.
Starting from the next academic year, more students had joined and my class had gotten bigger, that only meant more interaction and more fun. I get the feeling that homeschooling had dampened my self motivation to mingle with other kids my age and chat with them. At times I still feel it is a good thing to avoid senseless and unethical discussions. However I realized it was fun to talk about things which seemed boring at first, but were actually fun; whether it was related to studies or movies or arbitrary things related to life. It was then that I considered that I had been missing the prospect of having fun with friends when I had been homeschooling.
The year flew by quickly. I did many things in between; I was able to continue my passion for making models out of Lego and I studied and had fun with friends. Had I joined a regular school, this would most certainly have not been possible; the freedom provided by DLRC when exercised in the right way and in the right amount let me do everything at once.
In the last few months before the board exams, my classmates and I continuously solved past papers. At DLRC, it was even more fun, to sit out with a friend reading out the questions and us orally solving it. I had initially thought solving hordes of papers would have been annoying, but it turned out to be really fun.
I didn’t fully perceive at the time how much I was enjoying learning at DLRC, but now being in a regular CBSE school and a coaching class, everytime I look at the place I’m sitting in or the teacher blabbering in front of me, I can only look back and think “I had so much fun there, if only I could have appreciated those moments more.”
There is one big change I have found in myself that I still find unbelievable. I used to hate English. It was my least favorite subject. I hated writing, learning grammar, and doing everything related to it. But Mona aunty made the subject interesting. It took me time to realize that I was actually having fun writing and submitting assignments. That was partly due to my resistance in accepting that I was having fun. I still had found the grammar part of it boring, but as I continued my newfound passion for writing, I found myself using those concepts more and more and that made me glad that I had bothered to focus in grammar classes. I am no expert in writing, but I am now definitely better. I absolutely love the IGCSE English syllabus. Math used to be my favorite subject, and I was shocked when I realized that English had caught up to it. The awesome assignments, the amazing english exam papers, I never knew I would like the subject so much. Solving the english past papers were fun; they became something I looked forward to doing. The questions and tasks to do were so captivating, I could write about something I passionately believed in and express it without being judged or needing to worry about having a view heavily prejudiced against in the education system. And after leaving DLRC, I continued writing; whether it was articles or short stories - the love and the immense need for me to express what was going on in my mind had been kindled, and I owe that entirely to IGCSE and especially to Mona aunty.
I developed a big interest in Biology because of the syllabus and the way Mona aunty taught us at DLRC, and now I’m pursuing Biology and preparing for medical for that very reason. My experience at DLRC helped me decide what I wanted to do as I had always been confused about what I wanted to do later on.
Leaving DLRC was extremely difficult for me to do. I had to shift to Gujrat and I knew it a year ago. I was dreading for the last day to come. After the exams were over, I seldom visited DLRC. I feel that was largely because I felt sad whenever I came back there, I kept thinking “These are the last few times I am going to be in this place.” and for some reason, that made me stop going. The day before our move, I came to the center to say goodbye to everybody but it turned out I had come a little late and almost everyone had gone. I resolved to come back the next day, but due to all the business of packing I didn’t get the opportunity, so I was unable to say goodbye to my friends and tell them how much I would miss them. But that also made it all easier. I am sure I would have burst into tears if I would have had to go through a farewell. While that now seems dumb and cowardly, not having to say goodbye made the goodbye easier - although it is something that I greatly regret doing now. It was because of how close I felt to the place that having to look at it one last time while thinking “I’m not coming back.” would have been extremely painful. I liked the place and the people in it so much, that it took a long time for the fact to settle in, that I would no longer be seeing DLRC. It is a unique place and one that I will not be able to forget, not that I want to. The place and the people will always reside in my memory. I constantly look back and remember incidents that took place there and the way things used to be, and that always makes me smile.
Maanas is a DLRC JHS student from the batch of 2017. He loves to have sugarcane , run , lego and is preparing for his medical entrance @ Gandhinagar.
An experience of a high schooler on the Admission Team 2017.
"You're in the hotseat, with four pairs of eyes searching your face for an answer. Cold sweat runs down your forehead, you quickly wipe it away. You sigh, take a deep breath, and.."
Sound familiar? Well, it's the all-too-known interview. Except this time, I wasn't the interviewee, I was sitting right across them. And the interviewees at DLRC were confident and enjoyed their interaction with facilitator and students.
This summer, a group of student DLRCians: Rayn Samson, Paritosh Bedekar, Susan Matthew, Anjali Dalmia, and I volunteered to be part of a team that contributed in the evaluation of applicants for grade eleven. This was an effort by DLRC to involve students in decision making by using principles of sociocracy.
An application with relevant and thought-provoking questions were sent to all students who had expressed interest to join the Senior High School program. The questions ranged from personal achievements to character-related questions to asking for the applicant's opinion on global issues. It was interesting to read the forms from a peer's point of view. The applicants were only a year or two older than me, yet I was able to see the vast knowledge that each student had. It was good to see that there were students who were well-informed and answered in depth. Once all forms were in, the Admission Team kicked off the meetings.
When interviewing new students, we wanted to ensure that the student is a fit for DLRC and that DLRC is a fit for the student. To assess each student, we created their interview questions based on their answers from the application. It was a tedious process to think of appropriate questions for each applicant. However, we knew that the correct questions would receive well thought out and clear answers. We spent long afternoons at the Farm campus making the questionnaires. We customized tasks to assess skills that the students mentioned to have an interest in such as poetry, essay writing, debating, drawing, and dancing. These activities were to gauge measure the applicants' interest level, passion, motivation, and determination.
Next, thorough planning of the "Demo Day" schedule took place. Everything had to be put in order - the morning circle, the group task, facilitator & parent meetings, student & applicant interviews, facilitator & applicant interviews, snack time, and closing circle. Phew. It sure was a handful. Thankfully, once all preparations were taken care of, students and facilitators were agog with excitement for the much awaited day.
Finally, Demo Day had arrived. The rising eleventh graders arrived at our lush farm campus, taking in the fresh air, and adjusting to an unusual learning environment. The anxious students and parents immediately relaxed as we began our morning circle. After a minute of meditation, we discussed the agenda for the day.
Everything went on schedule as the day progressed. Soon, we got to the best part: the interviews. The "interview" was more of a friendly interaction between the DLRCians and to-be DLRCians. Students also interact more openly with peers, and we wanted to see their candid side during the interviews. As we conversed, I could see applicants relax, letting the conversation flow into something more than a question-answer session. It was an eye-opener to see different perspectives merge into one seamless conversation.
Last but not least, a "mini community meet" took place at the farm with the prospective students and parents. Students were encouraged to present or perform their given prompts. It was amazing to see all the talent and skills of each student, and how they organised this in a few hours. Once all the presentations were completed, we gathered for our closing circle. Parents and students shared their thoughts about DLRC, the campus, and their learning experiences. DLRC students and facilitators were so happy to hear their responses, that we were all smiling ear-to-ear as we dispersed.
Being the youngest in the Admissions Team, I was able to observe the quick decision making and evaluation skills that the facilitators demonstrated. Each student had a unique personality, yet, the team was able to navigate through the process very effectively. Within the span of a few weeks, our team had sorted through applications, created "customized" interviews, hosted the prospective students at the campus, and take final decision. I couldn't help but admire the efficiency of this entire process.
I really appreciate that DLRC gives an opportunity to students to be a part of such decision-making. This process opened my mind, and give me an insight on how people are evaluated during interviews. I realized that soft skills play a key role in our daily interactions, and will help us in the future. As Albert Einstein correctly said, "The only source of knowledge is experience." And I can say this applies to my learnings from being part of the DLRC Admissions Team 2017!
Grade 10 learner @ DLRC
A History of Cricket in Pune and Maharashtra
Historic Clubs in Pune:
Cricket has a rich history in Pune. There are many famous clubs in Pune that have nurtured some fantastic cricket players who have gone on to play for the Maharashtra Ranji team or the Indian National Team. Three of the oldest and most famous clubs in Pune are PYC Hindu Gymkhana, Pune Club, and Deccan Gymkhana.
PYC is an old and famous club. It started its cricket coaching program as well as the Maharashtra Cricket Association in 1900. It has nurtured and coached many famous players such as C.K. Nayudu, who was the first captain of India in test matches, and Vijay Hazare who was a batsman who captained fourteen matches for India. It is also the home to players such as Surendra Bhave. Surendra Bhave was the captain of the Maharashtra Ranji team that played against Punjab in the finals in the 1992-93 season and soon after became a selector for the Indian team. He is now the Head of Cricket at PYC.
Deccan Gymkhana is also a famous club. This club was started in 1906. It is home to modern players such as Kedar Jadhav and Rahul Tripathi. Kedar Jadhav is a batsman and now is a member of the Indian National team. Rahul Tripathi is also a batsman who trained at Deccan Gymkhana since he was twelve and now plays in the IPL for the Rising Pune Supergiants.
Pune Club is another famous and beautiful ground. It is known for its amazing outfield. Many Ranji matches were played here as well.
Along with these historic clubs, there are some well-known, modern clubs in Pune. For example, Cadence is a club that was started in 2000 by Ajay Shirke. Ajay Shirke was the head of cricket in Maharashtra for about nine years. Another modern club in Pune is Varroc, Vengsarkar Academy. These clubs have been founded more recently compared to PYC and Deccan Gymkhana.
These clubs are very well known around Pune for their cricket programs. They train thousands of kids every year. These clubs play a significant role in nurturing and developing tomorrow’s cricketers.
Iconic Cricket Players from Maharashtra:
The icons of Indian cricket from Maharashtra in the early days include D.B. Deodhar, Bapu Nadkarni, Hemant Kanitkar, and Surendra Bhave. D.B. Deodhar is known as the Grand Old Man of cricket because he played cricket before the First World War and after the Second World War and retired after playing first class cricket for thirty-six years. He was regarded as an aggressive batsman and a straightforward captain. In the 1980s, the one-day zonal championship, the Deodhar Trophy, was named after him. Bapu Nadkarni was mainly a left-arm bowler but he was a decent all-rounder as well who played forty-one test matches for India. He was known for bowling very consistently and giving away very few runs. He has bowled one of the finest spells of bowling in test cricket when he bowled twenty-one consecutive maidens against England. Hemant Kanitkar was a gritty right-handed batsman and a wicket-keeper. He was a tower of strength for Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy during his fourteen-year first class career. In his first-class career, he scored 5007 runs at an average of 42.79 and affected eighty-seven dismissals as a wicket-keeper. Although he had many splendid performances in the domestic circuit, he was not able to solidify a spot in the Indian team. Surendra Bhave was a solid batsman who relied mainly on technique. As an opener for the Maharashtra Ranji team, he consistently built large innings. Over time, he developed himself into an able leader and led the Maharashtra team to the Ranji final in 1992-93 season. He finished his fourteen-year career after scoring 7971 runs from ninety-seven matches with an average of 58.18 in first class cricket.
Some cricket players from Pune who have played for India more recently include Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Kedar Jadhav. Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who is the son of Hemant Kanitkar, was an aggressive left-handed batsman, an accurate off-spinner, and a versatile fielder who played two tests matches and thirty-four ODI matches for India. After playing for India, he played in the domestic circuit for about a decade. Kedar Jadhav is also an attacking middle-order batsman and he bowls off-spin. He has played twenty-eight ODIs and six T20Is with an average of 47.16 in ODIs currently. So far in his career, he has showed that he can be a game-changing limited overs player.
Maharashtra Cricket Stadium:
The Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium formerly known as the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium is a large cricket stadium in Gahunje, Maharashtra close to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The idea to build a new cricket stadium in Pune began from a dispute with the PMC regarding ticket allocations for Nehru Stadium. An international match between India and Sri Lanka was moved to Kolkata, with the MCA saying that they were not able to host the match. Following this, the MCA decided that a new stadium with better facilities and larger stands was needed. The stadium was designed by a British architectural company named Hopkins Architects. The stadium was established in 2012 and soon after in 2013 the company, Sahara Indian Pariwar, bought the naming rights. At this time, the stadium was named Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium but the name was later changed back to Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium because Sahara did not pay the full Rs. 200 crore it had promised. Recently in November 2015, the MCA stadium was elected as one of the new test venues. This was an important accomplishment for the MCA.
One of the most important features of the MCA stadium is the rainwater drainage system. The MCA made sure the ground was built with a sand-based outfield which helps drain water very quickly even after heavy rainfall. The ground contains fifteen match wickets along with numerous practice pitches. The stadium contains four stands with enough seating for 37, 406 spectators. The stadium has state of the art technology and a large seating capacity making it one of the best stadiums in India.
DLRC MiddleSchooler who loves learning,playing cricket and being adventurous.
Transitioning from pre-school to primary school is an important and challenging period for your child. It is also a challenging and learning phase for the parents. As a parent, your contribution is invaluable. Remember your child doesn't stop learning from you when he/she enters primary school. A parent remains the most important person in the child’s life. When parents and schools collaborate, it will help your child do better at school.
How You Can Help Your Primary Level Child In Learning
For example: What was the most interesting activity in class today?
Which thing in school today did you like the most?
What did you like or dislike in class today?
This way you will be aware of what’s happening in their class/school.
With the passage of time, you will become a better parent and contribute in no small measure to the learning and development of your child. Like flowers they will bloom given the right environment and loving care.
For DLRC's first community time, we invited Dr. Radha Shelat, the Farm's owner. As the primary, middle, and high schoolers settled themselves, Dr. Shelat introduced herself. She animatedly explained her journey starting with growing up in Banaras in a business family and her education there until she graduated from Banaras Hindu University. She continued to recall from when she started her career with joining IIM Ahmedabad and then moving to IIT Mumbai to pursue her education. She continued to achieve in all she did by being on the team that set up Veritas in India and going on to starting her own enterprises.
Dr. Shelat's speech was centered around life lessons for students. She spoke about the importance of sports as a student. She was a university basketball player, national level cricket player, a state level table tennis player, and university level in badminton.She emphasised on this as she believed that her fitness level as a student plays a great role in her fitness level today, that really helps her to do focus and continuously work with a rigorous schedule.
Dr. Shelat inquired about entrepreneurship - who all wanted to be an entrepreneur. Majority of the students raised their hands, fascinated by the thought of earning large sums of money. Even a few primary students enthusiastically expressed their ideas on starting a business! Dr. Shelat continued, that as an entrepreneurs one needs to start with an idea. Next, one should share the idea, as it is important to understand if it is feasible and to plan the necessary actions to take the project forward. Following this, an entrepreneur should build a team for their "startup.” Along with the team, the product should be marketed to spread the word in order to make a profit. Startups take tremendous effort, and profits must constantly be made to keep the enterprise running.
Dr. Shelat emphasised on innovation as an important aspect missing in the Indian corporate industries. She mentioned that her passion for innovation motivated her to start her company (which is focused on Cyber-Security.) Dr. Shelat then asked the children what they understood of cyber security and explained how her product is being used in the financial sector or banking industry.
About the Farm:
Dr. Shelat first had a farm at Sus gaon with about five trees, but she desired for a campus full of green. So she and her husband bought this farm and planted a variety of trees including 300 mango trees. They carefully choose to keep the farm organic. Dr. Shelat said she gained her understanding of Organic farming by attending workshops so she could follow the right practices. They had been approached by many builders and another school to use this space, but the thought of a concrete structure choking this green space was unthinkable. This farm has been and remains a labour of love for her.
When Dr. Shelat met Ajay, Mona and Pavan, around six months back, the vision of DLRC resonated with her. The conversation flowed and soon was taken forward to becoming a project. She truly believes in both the green policy as well as the wholesome approach. She emphasised that the learning at DLRC, that also aims to ensure that children should be equipped with a skill that is practical and applicable was also one she felt strongly and agreed with.
Aspirations for The Students:
Dr. Shelat spoke to the children on responsibility and discipline, which is essential and inculcated with the freedom that one enjoys. She continued to speak about making best use of time by spending time in the outdoors, reading, sports and less time with gadgets.
Q&A Session :
Dr. Shelat replied she would have studied at a US university, though would always work in India.
-Do you have any further plans for the farm?
Dr. Shelat promptly confirmed that she definitely wanted to open the space for families to visit. She strongly felt that a family dining out which means eating and drinking , should reconsider to make it a more active outing, which is what she hopes to achieve at her farm. Where the family will work on the farm together, maybe take a trek around, and after that have a hearty meal together. She hopes to incorporate some of the ideas of design she has collected from her travel overseas as well.
DLRC’s very first community time was wonderful, and students enjoyed Dr. Radha Shelat’s informative and inspiring talk. With such amazing speakers, the students were eagerly awaiting the next Friday!
In pic below - DLRC Parent & Facilitator explaining to the community about the Community Time and introiducing Radha.
Written by: Shoba George - DLRC Parent & Facilitator