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9, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Marine Street, White Town, Puducherry 605002, PY

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+91-413-2233645

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Pune India
A Wonderful School in Pondicherry-SAICE
Jun 16, 2015 09:23 PM 11693 Views
(Updated Jun 16, 2015 10:06 PM)

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When I was about 10 my father resigned his job as the director of what is now called NIMHANS in Bangalore. He joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry and, of course, we, his family, moved there with him.


I can never forget the school! I am 55 now but have never seen such a splendid institution.


The first class I went to had people of different ages since everyone who joined had to know French. Sciences and mathematics are taught in French and almost all the teachers talk in French.


There was also one who only spoke in Sanskrit all the time. He was our Sanskrit teacher.


All teachers were called so and so bhai or bhen or da or di. Only one teacher, my favourite, did not use anything with his name. He was my english teacher, Ravi.


There was almost no homework as the guru of that Ashram, the Mother, felt that children should have free time to pursue hobbies. As such, after school, there was physical education. “All students(as well as many Ashram members) take part in daily physical activities, including athletics, aquatics, gymnastics, games, combative sports and asanas. The department of physical education maintains a fully equipped sports ground, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, tennis courts, a judo hall, a playground and other modern facilities.”


Alas, I once complained about one of the instructors or something and my father, a psychiatrist, got me excused from this as he felt I was traumatised.


We had no exams or tests which were used to assess children to pass or fail them. Some teachers gave tests just like that. it was very amusing that there was a girl who copied in spite of the fact that marks did not matter!


It was while I was there that a "free progress system" was set in place. Some students were  allowed to study on their own and meet teachers now and then. In the words of the Mother: "a progress guided by the soul and not subject to habits, conventions or preconceived ideas". The student could learn on his or her own, choose subjects, progress at his/her own pace, etc. In fact, at one time, we wrote our own progress reports.


In those years, this school was recognised for entrance to JNU, IIT and IAS.


Besides all these wonderful aspects, in those days, we also had to choose a “department” and apprentice there. This Ashram had a hospital(more than one I think), a kitchen, a bakery, a workshop, a perfumery and many departments.


Though there were no exams, I do not know of any student from there who has done badly in life.


Another similar school is J Krishnamurthi’s Rishi Valley.


Though we have traditions of such schools and even in modern times, we have at least two such examples, I wonder why most of our schools follow an outdated system which continues to make good slaves.


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