In the beginning of January one passionate Brockwood teacher, one painter and four students made their way to Calcutta in India to visit former Brockwood staff members Ashna, Brian and their son Malu to take part in what they call the Calcutta academy.
Left to right: Klara, Friederike and Paloma in a ‘Tuk tuk’, a typical Indian auto Riksha.
The idea of academy is of course from the Greek philosopher Plato. An academy is a community of students and teachers who engage in studying together and learning from each other, as well as creating a space where passion for learning flourishes. But in real life this idea of academy is hard to follow. We often experience in classes that when getting interested in a topic we are forced to stop because of exam pressures or others. Deepening our understanding cannot take place because of the structure of our daily life in school. In this academy, together we have created a space to inquire into various subjects as much as we wish to get a fuller comprehension of that subject. We have been learning about the roots of philosophy in history and have been studying mathematics in depth. To balance the intense intellectual activity we have also had art sessions where we were free to paint whatever we want. In our maths classes we learned to think about mathematics in a way that makes us realise the relationship between our life and numbers. Thanks to this study environment we are questioning schooling and how learning should be part of life. So far this experience has been very enriching for all of us, teachers and students alike.
There is also a big non-academic learning part to this Calcutta academy experience. One has to remember that this is not just any academy, but it is in Calcutta! In India! For many of us it is the first time that we are visiting this place full of diversity, full of culture, full of fascinating people. Just by living in a mainly Indian household we have already experienced one part of the multicultural India. Eating amazing Indian food, meeting Indian people, bargaining in shops and especially experiencing the chaos of the streets and crazy taxi drivers and much more has made us, in a certain way, fall in love with Calcutta.
By Friederike, Julie, Klara and Paloma (students currently in Calcutta)
From right to left: Julie, Friederike (Brockwood students), Kevin (Julie’s brother), Klara (Brockwood Student), Brian (former Brockwood staff member), Paloma (Brockwood student)