As educators, we must (and do) believe that every child can be mentored to achieve his/ her potential. This is also quite consistent with current scientific thinking - that both “Nature” and “Nurture” count.
There are dramatic changes in the world around us (pace at which natural resources are being consumed, extreme weather events, polarisation of societies within and beyond national borders, rising inequality, ubiquitous/ autonomous technologies, etc.).
Given the above context, we asked ourselves some questions:
How well do available middle- and high-school curricula reflect the social, political, and technological upheavals that we are already seeing? How soon and impactfully is “new knowledge” - whether it is the massive body of work that has been unearthed over the past 20 years in neurosciences, the Maker revolution, impactful tools and techniques (such as Digital Storytelling, Computational Modeling) in light of progress made around technology, to name a few - reflected in current school curricula?
What sort of knowledge, expertise, behaviors and attitudes need to be inculcated into the student of today, in order to get her ready to become a sensitive, humane and just leader of the 21st century, adapting to, and managing change along the way, not just for herself, but for society at large?
Even in those cases where curriculum incorporates several aspects of what we are asking in Q1 and Q2, do we have the Quality and Quantity of teachers/ mentors who can inspire the student, and ensure opportunities are identified and grasped?
Most parents we speak to intuit quite readily in response to the above questions. Fact-based, well-researched answers to the above questions are also quite readily available, and they are consistent with what most parents feel - Indian, and some international curricula, are significantly behind the times in the coverage and emphasis with respect to the above trends. As for future ready skills, any number of international organisations have put their heads together to come up with long lists...the gap here is how effectively and formally these can be brought to life in the implementation, which is where the lack of supply of expert mentors could be one of the stumbling blocks.
We set out our Founding Principles from the above context.
We will create an expert network of mentors, with whom we will systematically sit down to design "Future Ready" curricula (through practitioners' experience and research), that will effectively supplement/ augment school.
At GenWise, the quality of each instructor and mentor will be among the best. We have a world-class team, where each member pursues their area of consuming interest, in addition to supporting GenWise’s mission. Instructors have full flexibility in developing content that will catalyze the process of “future readiness”; they will work with each other to reflect the inherent interconnections and interdisciplinary nature of tomorrow's world. This allows us to acquire the best talent, whose work will win accolades in research/ academia, as well as push the boundaries of private, government and NGO setups. Each mentor will diligently guide their students and help launch them into their respective career orbits.
We cannot address the entire student population (450+m students in K-12 in India alone). We will start in a couple of niches where the attention - from schools, government, NGOs, and private enterprise - is minimal or non-existent. Namely,
the more advanced segments of the student population (with wide acceptance criteria, not just restricted to STEM scores) and
bring classroom curriculum alive through Experiential Learning Programs, that bring out the Interconnections between various subjects
This does not mean that GenWise will not work with other students. We will create capacity to work with all students, from time to time.
Home to 10+m gifted children, India lacks an ecosystem that recognizes and nurtures them. Our immediate mission is to build and enable an ecosystem of content creators, course designers, instructors, mentors and career counselors, that supports gifted education and talent development. This select group of children needs to be identified and presented with opportunities that will lead them to achieve their potential, with outstanding impact.
Gifted children face a number of daily challenges, and so do their parents. Parents struggle to keep these high ability children intellectually and emotionally engaged. They need constant support to deal with the challenges of bringing up a gifted child. An active parent support group, both online and offline, will provide support as required.
We believe it is important to impart “Self-Learning” or “Learning to Learn” skills, given the rapid pace of change across domains. We think it is important to abstract this out of a general set of skills that are consistent with “Future Ready”. We seek to stay associated with students over a length of time to enable the transfer of “wisdom”, as also to observe impact.
We would like to be measured by the number of students we identify, times the amount of assistance we provide each one. We believe the students and their contributions will significantly impact the progress of society. In 5 years, we aim to provide 10,000 high ability students from across India and around the globe, with courses that will supplement their school curriculum. These courses are available in various formats, but not limited to, the “BiteSize”, “Year Round”, and Residential programs.
Snapshots from a recent GenWise program for Gifted Children
@Inventure Academy, Bengaluru