Do you know this Kerala couple created a forest school for their kids

Thirty-six years ago, this couple had decided that their yet to be born child will not go to school. As they were not happy and satisfied with the typical & more of an artificial kind of learning. Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi they both imagined a concept of the alternative education system for their child and built a school in a forest with ecological and environmental learning methodologies.

Alternative Education System

Imagine, if instead of using diagrams to teach us how birds fly, our teachers actually took us out in the open to show it? How would it be if we were taught about the flora and fauna in the gardens and jungles instead of colorful pictures in our Science book? How would it be if we could differentiate between the texture of Clayey and Alluvial soil by touching them? 

Just think about the learning we could have had if we were allowed to experience the world and learn from it organically, rather than copying the answers from a blackboard and mugging it up only to vomit it out on the answer sheet later?

Taking into account all the constraints which negate the possibility of an ideal education system, it's true that our present education system is inherently flawed. 

History of Sarang Foundation

Back in the early 80s, Gopalakrishnan, a government teacher in Palakkad, fresh out of a teacher training college, thought of experimenting this concept with his students. Realising that children feel bored of sitting in the same classroom for a long time, he used to take them out to a post office, on the banks of a river, telephone exchange, police stations and beneath a tree.

But his idea of imparting practical education did not go down well with other teachers who opposed this practice. Eventually, Gopalakrishnan resigned from his job. But teaching was life for him and his wife, Vijayalakshmi. This laid the foundation of a holistic form of learning and the couple started 'Sarang'

In 1983, they bought a land, a barren hilltop, where they planned to establish Sarang, which they initially called an experimental center for alternative education. They dreamt of converting it into a Rural University one day. With the admission of some local tribal kids and a few others who had dropped out of school, it was all set to begin.

Curriculum outside the classroom

Unlike the course books in a regular school, at Sarang, the curriculum was to learn skills and survive with minimum resources in real-life situations. Isn’t it what our present requirement is to have wonderfully skilled people around us for every need in our daily life. Since there were no facilities on the hilltop, students had to build everything from scratch. After over a decade of experimenting with the alternative educational system, Sarang ran into financial troubles and had to be shut down in 1995

Gautham Sarang

Over the period of two decades, Gautham, now 36, married Anuradha, an engineer, and worked different jobs to pay off Sarang's debts. Eventually, after clearing all the debts, Gautham, along with his wife and kids, moved into Sarang in 2013, to revive the dreams his parents had seen when he wasn't even born. 


Read More, about some inspirational stories of teachers from all over the world at BEYOND TEACHING.