Not a textbook, but a travel guide

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

open-book Imagine you want to travel, visit a place, say Goa (isn’t it a beautiful place to visit?). But this will not be your regular trip – for it will be run by a textbook. You see, this special textbook will ensure that you follow the syllabus, that you visit and see (in Goa) what is important. The textbook will tell you where to start, where to go next, what exactly to do, will carefully leave out what is not required and ask you the right questions, so that you get to know exactly what is required. Prepare for an effortless, yet effective journey.

Wait, before you start opposing this idea of your trip being driven by a textbook, take heart in the fact that every traveller (like you) to Goa will be following pretty much the same textbook.

Some of you will strongly disagree with the above analogy – you will emphatically point out that these are two totally unrelated things, that studies are a serious job, that we must deliver education to children, that we need to make children learn, that life is not a fun trip … et al.

Your argument is interesting. But that is precisely my wish … why isn’t my schooling my helluva fun trip?

Let us make some choices here:
Is our (school or teacher’s) job to make learning easy for the child or more challenging, to make it prescriptive or explorative, to make it standardized or child-centric?

Let us get back to travelling to Goa. Here is how we would like it:

  1. First let me dream – about the place and what I would do there.
  2. The let me chit-chat – half the fun in travelling to somewhere is to show off where we are going. Included, by default is exchanging loads of information.
  3. Time for some questions and doubts – Will I? Would it be? How would? What is the best?
  4. Let us get into some search/research – now I am looking for some targeted info.
  5. Enough – let’s start the journey, let’s explore – each one going where each wants to.
  6. Break time – let’s exchange notes – get peer reviews – what’s thumbs up and what’s not!
  7. Let’s travel more – what we wanted but did not do in the first round, what others showed as interesting, etc.
  8. After we come back – we brag and review – collect all the pictures, write our travel blogs, take stock of our thoughts and mostly relive the journey. Also make a note of what we missed that we can catch up next time we are in Goa. And you may ask where will the textbook fit into this journey?

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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