One of the most preciously valued explorations I have had while travelling and in particular while being at Shikshantar was the contemplation on how we learn and make sense of the world around us. In the last couple of months I was finding my own pace
and intuitive way of engaging with my environment. Through dance and movement or play and immersion in Nature I slowly began to experience different ways of learning, 're-sensitising the senses' and bringing learning back into whole body and being. Shikshantar was a great place to enhance that experience even further and to meet like minded people who are on the same path of exploring wholesome learning and learning spaces in community with others.
The same day I arrived, I slid straight into a film making workshop. I met a good crowd of creative people who did exciting stuff though it all felt like a film passively passing by. I still felt the exhaustion of travelling for 20 hrs and the jetlag, being13.5 hours behind on West coast Pacific time, so amidst the various dynamic interactions among the participants, I decided to take it easy and observe the activities with a comforting distance to where the action was. It didn't take long before I was invited to join a group which was about to enter a conversation on vulnerability and how to craft a film around that sensitive topic. Whether you are an unannounced spontaneous visitor just entering the door or you are more of an intern-like guest as I was - one immediately gets to dive in and be hands-on in Shikshantar. This learning community is a hands-on place pretty much everyday, engaging with the making and creating of the experience rather than the debating and intellectual exploration of it, though Shikshantar does have numerous thought provoking interesting resources in writings and films to offer to anyone seriously being interested in "developing learning systems that liberate the full potential of human beings." as they put it.
From the very beginning of my stay, through conversations and further resources I got to step back from my habitual way of seeing things and through that also got confronted with thequestion of deschooling or unschooling society. How is the way we educate our children through institutionalised schooling restraining us from having more wholesome and more real experiences in our lifes? Does it truly support society and in
dividuals to develop creativity, innovation and ethos or does it perpetuate a soulless and artificial biorhythm of eat, sleep, work and shop where the whole life purpose seems to centre around making more money, to do more shopping to keep the wasteful production and the economic growth going?
Along the way I was wondering, what do we really need to be nourished and in more harmony with our natural world and with each other? Not just nourished in a physical sense of what type of food we are eating - though I surprisingly also learned a lot about that, but nourished to fully live. Shikshantar through their very practical hands-on culture, has provided a space, a fertile ground for creativity and a lot of stimuli to challenge our fundamental assumptions about how to live our lifes but also giving great examples of how it could be different.
The Creative Commons Movement Magazine YES! Powerful ideas, practical actions wrote an article on Shikshantar and Udaipur as a learning city. The article is titled: Udaipur hands down skills. Shikshantar was also highlighted by the magazine as one of the top ten intiatives around world on Radical Acts of Education.
The film below is one of many films made by Shikshantar - Swapathgami Films. It portrays the essence of the learning community.