A pound of joy for a hundred woes maketh CSP a fair trade
Flow project liaison and operations-in-charge, Bani Maini and administrator, Waseem Saifi share their thoughts, ideas, and learnings on coordinating and implementing Flow City School Project last year
Flow City School Project (CSP) is designed to foster in K12 learners an interest in a city’s cultural and historical ecosystem. The project, which is currently operational in Delhi, is a bouquet of 8 experiences designed around select heritage sites where each experience and its corresponding site addresses a set of curricular and learning goal of a particular grade. While the Project is available all year-round, it is the few months of winter, when Delhi wears its prettiest flowers, green trees, forgiving clouds, and deliciously nippy cold, that schools most look forward to a chance to take their learners outdoors. Quite naturally, many choose to take up our project and experience the joy of learning in an outdoor, cultural lab of a museum or a heritage site. While the design and implementation of the project is tremendous joy, Flow also takes pride in being adept planners and organizers. Read about the joys with an honest report on challenges faced on and off the ground by our two master planners.
Bani Maini, who has been in the field of education for a while and joined our team recently, gives us a quick overview of the programme and how it builds context for and extends classroom learning.
CSP is a one day project that we conceive, design and implement on cultural sites to transform book-based knowledge imparted in the classroom into real-world experience. Learners are given almost a lab to extrapolate their classroom learnings to a ground scenario, and experience, test and own their learning. We build on good work done by city school teachers and complement it by adding real-world context through experiential learning.
It is important for learners to use their senses, build connection across disciples to eventually enhance their skill for critical learning. The experience is not all work but fun too for our learners. Our subject-expert facilitators do a great job to make the experience enjoyable for them. There are times when we see accompanying teachers participate in the programme and that is when a tiny realization warms our heart, that we are doing something meaningful and right.
Waseem Saifi, who has been with our team for 8 years, shares his enthusiasm about the programme.
CSP is Flow’s quick shot of “learning with joy” programme as you have very little time to pack relevant information about the site to learners in a manner that keeps them engaged and hanging on to your word or action or mime. While an aspect of CSP is definitely creating rich content to add value to the school curriculum, the fun element, which I call “tim-tom” makes the learning light, joyous and full of potential to bring about change in the learners’ mindsets.
Bani goes on spill her trade secrets.
The process begins with selling the programme but that I am not giving away. I will, however, spill that there is a lot of back and forth, multiple persuasive calls and visits, much planning and changes to plans in response to client requests! I reach out to school coordinators, have one-on-one conversations, fix dates and make sure we, Flow, accommodate their last moment requests. That is just the conversations with school liaise. There is also the matter of doing a reconnaissance of our pre-fixed sites and sometimes we discover hurdles such as sites being shut for restoration. In that case, the design team and planning team work on a new site, sometimes in a matter of a day and a half. There is the due diligence with paperwork that needs to happen too. There is the matter of design and research that another team member handles, there is the production of booklets that our steadfast Waseem handles. I work with the design team and work towards building a subject-expert external team who will facilitate the programme. There is a lot of coordination there too.
We have a wide pool of expert facilitators who have been working with us for a long time, some for over eight years. Once they come on board, the designer provides them with relevant material, often conducts a walkthrough on sites and provides them with any support that they might need. All through, I am managing, organizing, planning and facilitating conversations. It is important for me to get every detail right. Some of my tasks on list would look like the following: find out the final number of learners who have signed up, will they be carrying food or do we have to point them to a food source, when do we allow them to eat or give them a quick restroom-break, will they get hungry halfway through the programme, how far is the restroom on the site! My colleague Waseem, who helps us with all small and big issues onsite, will share more on how we manage to put up a seamless experience despite these pet peeves.
Waseem offers his set of pet peeves:
An out-of-classroom experience will offer some kind of challenge. For instance, school buses and transportation agencies, bringing students to and taking them away from the site, may have guidelines about returning children to their homes by a certain time, and perhaps due to traffic on road, the school couldn’t have reached the site on time, which might have delayed the implementation, yet we have to make sure that the children leave the site on time. In these instances, we curtail the time spent on each sub-experience and this often requires on-the-spot thinking for implementation, organizing as well as the design team. There are also times when a gallery we had planned to visit and confirmed that it’d be open on the day of implementation is found shut when we reach there. We then immediately think of an alternative. Effecting seamless transformation is not easy when such “glitches” occur but we have been doing this programme for years now and our familiarity with learner requirements as well as the site, makes it possible for us to present a great show.
Bani shares some of her best moments of planning and implementing CSP which makes up for all the trial and tribulations of organizing the programme.
The best part of CSP is the interaction with school children, it is absolutely amazing delivering sessions to them. Conversing with them, hearing their responses, seeing them engaged in the process and taking away kernels of wisdom, makes all the labour put in quite meaningful for me. I also love connecting with teachers and coordinators, some of them have been really good and helpful, and it is often they who make sure that the experience is fun for our team too. I also like working with my own team members as well as external facilitators. I have made friends with external facilitators. To be honest, all bits of the programme has been very important for me. CSP has helped me in settling into my role and the organization.
Waseem adds a little about his personal favourite experience from 2018.
I really enjoyed the programme at Purana Qila last year. It had all the ingredients for a great experience. We were with over 200 children on the site. There were other school students too but the site was sprawling, so we all fit in quite comfortably. The weather was also perfect and the learners looked very content with the environment they were in. I have children of my own and I know when they learn the best: it is when they feel happy.
If you are an interested educator, school coordinator or parent and want to know more about this programme and how your school can participate in it, write to our CSP coordinator, Bani Maini at email@example.com.