Interconnecting insights

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

I am free, when I can see
how tree is me and I the tree

girl We often tell children not to care so much about being independent, but to care about accepting interdependence. They say, “But I want be like my papa, who does everything.” We ask, “Does he milk the cow? Does he shell the corn? Does he live life alone or does he coexist with us all?” At this point usually there is some silence.

We then ask, “Do you see a cloud in your notebook?” And they say “no”. So we tell them one day a cloud cried and it rained on earth. A little seed got some water to grow into something real tall. Then a woodcutter cut it down, a factory pulped it and transformed it into paper, which a binder stitched and a shopkeeper sold. And the children say, “Yes now we see a cloud in our notebooks!” So, we ask them how can we live independent lives then? And in chorus they reply “no live no live, we live only interdependently”.

You see, you can’t beat me
coz I ain’t running no race

We often ask the children, what the moral of the story The hare and the tortoise is and when they are through with their myriad views, we add our own. To us the story says it is futile to run any race, futile to prove who is faster as in one way or another, we all reach the finish line. But the children say, “It’s fun to race, to win.” We agree it’s fun and it’s alright to have fun. But all these races, selections, and winners seem to imply that life is about scarcity – that only a few can have it. What will happen if we start looking at everything in life as a race? The children reply, “Then we will be running all the time.” And we conclude, we will be tired, all the time.

We remind the children how animals hunt together, live together, and safeguard each other and we see the children nodding their heads as if their primal instinct suddenly surfaced to question this culture of scarcity that we have gifted them.

Money can buy me everything
Except for what I really need

We sometimes give the children 10 rupee notes. Most of them instantly start planning what they want to buy. Some even start wishing they had got more. We ask them how they are different now that they have money as compared to earlier when they were penniless. This question seems to baffle them; some say they now have purchasing power. We ask what will happen to this sense of strength once they spend the money. This question baffles not only them, but us as well. We wonder how this concept of independence is so strongly enforced by the concept of ‘my money’.

The authors run an open unschool called Aarohi and invite all readers to visit and see how open learning can be an amazing way to work with children. They also conduct training retreats and online training for teachers and parents. Visit

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