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Salesians Create First Happy Zone Learning Space for Children in Kerala


By C.M. Paul
Happy Zone classroom
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Kottayam, Nov. 9. Students in Kerala went back to school on 1st November after a long spell of Covid-19 lockdown. Students of Don Bosco School in Puthuppally, near Kottayam in Kerala, were in for a surprise and thrilled at what they saw in school.
''Most children may not be able to make the quick shift from home learning to classroom learning, and teachers would find it stressful to manage numerous fidgety and impatient kids in the classroom. Hence, I had to think out of the box to address the issue well in advance and establish a 'Happy Zone', for our children,'' said the principal of Don Bosco Higher Secondary School, Father Tony Cherian.

Thanks to trusted, reliable and globally renowned partners of Don Bosco, Jugend Dritte Welt (JEW) - Austria, and International S.T.E.A.M Research (ISR), Father Tony's concept is a reality today.

While JEW supports the initiative financially, the ISR is implementing the project within the Happy Zone space set up at school.

The best way forward is to engage children in hands-on integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) activities with futuristic technologies, as therapeutic education, say educationists. This system will help students gain crucial 21st Century Skills of Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication and Collaboration or the 4Cs as it is known, rather than just rote-learning. The benefits of such a concept of therapeutic intervention are multiple.

Seeing the result, Father Tony said, ''Happy Zones make children remain curious, excited, and eager to spend quality time engaging in discovering rather than just covering their subject portions in the classroom.''

Teachers have become natural therapists and facilitators for students in their inquiry-based explorations, discoveries, and innovations, which is the core of Experiential Learning through STEAM Education. ''Technology is great value addition, and it is high time that we empower our teachers to use it in our schools as an augmenting tool within the classroom rather than only for remote teaching,'' said Father Tony.

''ISR-S.T.E.A.M activities provide an environment where a learner can touch, feel, and learn by doing through a design thinking process. It promotes invention literacy by making things and relating them to the real world and their textbook topics and experiences it with a scientific mentality, '' said Dr George Panicker, Founder & CEO of ISR.

A Don Bosco alumnus, Dr Panicker, is convinced that the exponential technological growth by each passing day is inevitable. The attitude and skill to consistently apply past knowledge and experience to new situations are what the future jobs will demand, he further added.

JEW, Don Bosco and ISR partnership, which has created the Happy Zone at Don Bosco School, Puthuppally provides a unique space for students to indulge in experiential learning eliminating the fear of failure and sharpening their metacognitive skills to become future-ready.

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