Showing posts with label School. Show all posts
Showing posts with label School. Show all posts

Monday, August 14, 2023

A School, I Wish I had gone to

Remember the iconic scenes from Rancho School in Ladakh, from 3 Idiots movie's climax? 

The school Rancho (scientist and educator) had established in Ladakh, on the principles of innovation, free thinking, creativity and pursuit for knowledge rather than pursuing marks/grades/numbers and ranks.

3 Idiots movie is one of my favourite for many reasons. I am a fan of Aamir Khan, Raju Hirani and I have always been passionate about education. So a movie made by them and on the topic of Indian education system, makes it a movie to feature in my list of all time favourites.

The 3 Idiots Wall, in the school campus

So when we are in Leh Ladakh on a family trip, we made sure to fit the Rancho School in our itinerary. Thanks to our taxi/tour guide Tashi bhai for mentioning about this school's location.

This blog is my travel memoir, to make your visit to the school easier. Also to introduce you to this real school outside of the filmy image. The school is doing lots of good work and this awareness may motivate some of you to volunteer and contribute to their community causes.  

At the school entrance

Real name of Rancho School?

Druk Padma Karpo

How to reach?

The school is located in Shey, the old capital city of Ladakh. It is 15 kilometers to the south of Leh city, a 25 minutes drive by cab or local bus. 

SHEY (image from Thrillophilia)

Founded in the year?


Founded by?

His holiness Drukpa Thuksey Rinpoche, a Buddhist Spiritual Leader of Ladakh. The design was created in association with Arup, Architectural firm. 


The students study Bothi (the local language), English and Hindi languages, Science, Social Studies, Creative Arts and Sports. The school provides education in the age group of 6 to 16 years. 

The school is a not for profit institution, which provides education to children from this remote Leh valley region. Many students in this school are first generation learners. Through education the school aims to empower the local community, with new knowledge and skills for betterment of their life. 


The school has won several prestigious awards. To name a few:

  • It won the BBC Award for World's most Beautiful School in 2016. 
  • WB Honours for Innovation in Public Washroom Design in India in 2015. 
  • World Architecture Award for Best Green Building in 2002. 

Ongoing project?

  • In 2010, the school campus was severely damaged by a mudslide, because of the fragile ecosystem in the Himalayan region. A project called Dragon Garden was conceptualised in collaboration with Architecture students from University of Greenwich. The Dragon Garden is aimed to transform the barren desert school campus into a lush green sustainable garden which will be used for learning, playing and growing vegetables and fruits for self-consumption. 
  • Sesmic upgrade and mudslide repair of the student's residences.
  • Construction of the senior secondary school complex.

Getting involved?

Image credits: TOI, Solaripedia, Business Khabar

The school welcomes volunteers who would like to teach, raise funds or contribute fund for supporting any of the above mentioned ongoing projects.

There is also a visitor zone, shop and cafe in the school premise. The purchases made there is also a way of making contributions for the school fund.

Do find the link for volunteering and for making contributing funds for a good cause:

For so many of us, Leh Ladakh is in our bucket list :) So when you plan your visit, do take out time to drop in at Druk Padma Karpo - The Rancho School at Shey, to see their positive, impactful work of imparting education, knowledge and skills, to the children of local communities, who have very little access to the things which you and I from big cities take for granted. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Need for Integrating Life Skills in Academics

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

From my lived experiences, I can strongly vouch that there is more to school education than studying for unit tests, preparing for board exams, and seeking admission at premier institutes. After all, an individual’s school life is a major phase of their lifetime, isn’t it? While knowledge acquisition is often prioritised, the need to develop a student to face practical situations in one’s life is disregarded. Moreover, the homogeneity that prevails in the faculty’s (and in turn the school’s) manner of assessing students, without acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of each individual, eventually results in a generalized attempt at personality development of these students through extracurricular activities.

This inability of an educational institution to conduct individual assessments as well as counseling sessions of students usually results in the latter’s lack of awareness about their own selves, their interests, their potentials, what they are good at, and so on. Thus, it is undoubtedly imperative to give primacy to the study of Life Skills at school, a subject (or a discipline, rather) that is often administered incorrectly by the school authorities and thus fail to address the final problem - the absence of practicality in education.

What are Life Skills?

The term “Life Skills” can be defined as an academic field which is not exactly academic in nature but does contribute significantly to the process of personality development within a child. Basically, the inclusion of Life Skills in the school curriculum helps students to identify, analyze and resolve practical problems in the real world. In other words, Life Skills often serve as a bridge that facilitates the interdisciplinary association of daily life activities with that of school education.

Speaking from my own experience and by comparing the inter-generational upbringing (that is, how I grew up in the 80's-90’s, and how my son is growing up now), I strongly feel that we naturally imbibed life skills as part of our growing-up process. We played on the streets, we made friends with kids across the socio-economic strata because we didn’t live in homogenized-gated communities; our schools were humbler, transportation to schools was either walking or travelling in public transport and getting scolding (also, occasional beating) from teachers was the norm.

We have robbed today’s school-going generation from these simple pleasures and experiences of life by over-protecting them, limiting their exposure within the posh-gated communities, and today’s school management and teachers will conduct themselves with the do’s and don’ts protocol.

Hence, I am a big proponent of the need for Life Skills as part of formal education, to equip the students to face the real world outside their comfort zone of the school campus and the home environment as well.

Life Skills in the School Curriculum

Life Skills as a field consists of 5 types, each of which focus on a different aspect of an individual’s personality development. These 5 sub-skills are not only beneficial to individuals as students, but also help them immensely in their adulthood, while making career choices as well as taking their own responsibilities as independent individuals. At the end, the very purpose of Life Skills is to provide the requisite practical knowledge to students so that they can take their decisions wisely;

  • Academic and Research Skills

Photo by on Unsplash

Yes, most schools fail to inculcate the required academic and research skills among students to help them study with a holistic approach. Oftentimes, covering lessons becomes tedious for students, which results in rote learning, plagiarism, or cheating. While the choices of favourite subject(s) would influence the study method for each student, it is important that they are able to learn first. In short, a school should help students learn about the moot point or concept of a lesson, accompanied by its context and outcome. Learning without conceptual understanding is best depicted by the hit Bollywood song "All Is Well" from the movie 3 Idiots - "Confusion hi confusion hai, Solution kuch pata nahin/Solution jo mila toh sala, Question kya tha pata nahin" 🙂. Be it History, Physics or Literature, inculcating the basic skills of academic research would assist them in ways unimaginable. Be it through case studies in doctoral programs or investigations conducted for work, people would be able to process, understand and implement the information they receive in the most practical ways possible.

  • Interpersonal Skills

Photo by Tolga Ulkan on Unsplash

Language is key. “But for what?” you may wonder. Language is more than just talking to people. Language helps you articulate your thoughts, express yourself, as well read these words that are scattered across your screen (albeit in an orderly manner). But yes, the first two points I mentioned (talking to people and expressing yourself) are encapsulated within the term “Interpersonal Skills”. To be precise, interpersonal skills help individuals to communicate effectively with other people so that the transfer of information (instructions, ideas, or messages) is conducted successfully. With the increasing reliance on virtual interaction (with the cameras switched off), communication in the real-world scenarios have become more complex. Stammering out of hesitation, lack of foresight in speech, and the inability to articulate one’s thoughts clearly have become some of the major issues of underdeveloped language skills. And yes, these issues arise from both language fluency as well as social skills. Hence, the school authorities must consider organizing inter-school fests, team sports, community services and student-exchange programs so that pupils can get a firsthand experience of social interaction with people from different cultures and backgrounds.

  • Emotional Quotient

Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Unsplash

While interpersonal skills are a major part of social skills, the psychological aspect of it entails the next type of Life Skills - that is, developing the student’s Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ). An individual’s ability to perceive and manage one’s emotions in a said situation has a significant impact on how they react and respond to someone or something. Necessitating Emotional Development through curricular and extracurricular activities would contribute significantly to the wellbeing of an individual. In fact, having a positive degree of Emotional Intelligence would help individuals to tackle practical circumstances with the right reactions and/or responses. Today’s 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) work place is characterised by VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity). To succeed in this dynamic environment, high EQ (Emotional Quotient) is a much-needed life skill. This can be facilitated in the school environment by conducting counselling sessions on a regular basis. Besides, the teaching faculty should be mindful of the varying levels of emotional intelligence among students, and that each student should be given proper attention so that they are able to develop emotional resilience within their own selves and thus become prepared to face real-world scenarios with a more mature outlook.

  • Financial Awareness

Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

From my lived experiences, I can say most of us are told to “study well, get good grades, so that you can get a good job and earn well”. Today in my mid-forties, I look back with a sarcastic smile and ask, “How come no one taught us what to do with the money we earn from our so-called good jobs?”. Through research and common sense, it is evident due to the lack of financial literacy, the majority of the population do not gain financial freedom despite being in high earning jobs throughout their working life. Handling finances should be a major part of the school curriculum. As a matter of fact, Financial Literacy barely gets any attention at all in the school curriculum since it is often considered unimportant to the student’s overall development. What is more unfortunate is that the Indian school system fails to recognise the need to educate the students regarding the management of personal finances. After all, the ability to measure expenses and earnings of an individual has long-term implications. Whether it is opening a bank account, investing in mutual funds or seeking loans, students should be taught to handle finances from an early age. While the school authorities can consider organizing Financial Literacy sessions in the campus, parents should encourage their children to look for gigs to earn their pocket money. At the same time, both educators and parents should also teach the students to monitor their own expenses and earnings. That way, students will be able to develop habits such as avoiding debt, saving up, and investing to build their financial resources.

  • Career Skills

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

With this, we come to the final type of Life Skills which does have intricate connections with academic accomplishments as well as soft skill training. As students eventually learn about their strengths and weaknesses, develop their interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, as well as educate themselves regarding wealth management at the individual level, it is highly imperative to include Career Skills as a major segment in Secondary and Higher Secondary Education system in India. In fact, Career Guidance and Career Education is part of the formal schooling systems in OECD member countries. By hosting career induction programs in the campus, students can be exposed to the huge array of career options that they can pursue on the basis of their potential and interests. However, the school has a bigger role to play in this case - helping students recognise their own capabilities. As students take part in curricular and cocurricular activities, they will be able to make better decisions with the passage of time, in terms of their own pursuits as well as that of the collective whole. And, in turn, students will also be able to learn about their abilities and limitations. With further assistance from the school and the parents, students will be able to make good choices not only regarding the right career path for themselves, but also the necessary professional knowledge and technical skills that they are acquainted with for the said job position.

The need to deem Life Skills as an indispensable element in academics should be recognised by educators and parents alike. The absence of dialogue among policymakers and educators (along with parents) can be viewed as one of the many reasons why Life Skills is misrepresented among students as just another school subject that is easy to study. By reducing an important academic element into an exam paper eventually culminates into the lack of emotional resilience, the inability to handle finances, tendency to make poor decisions in life, or even being unable to talk to other people fluently. The effect (or effects, in this case) are quite psychological, and thus the repercussions are equally difficult to cope with.

Hence, now more than ever, it is of utmost necessity to look at Life Skills as not only a compulsory feature in the school syllabus but should also be implemented with much precision and planning. Organizing workshops on Financial Literacy, collaborating with other schools to hold student-exchange events, as well as conduct counseling sessions on a regular basis can be viewed as some of the primary steps for educators to prioritize Life Skills at the school-level. At the same time, parents should also endeavor to provide the proper ambience and interact with their wards transparently so that they can become capable of taking their responsibilities and making their decisions as individuals. Most of all, Life Skills is a way for us to manifest the aspirations of a better world with the help of our future - our kids.

Blog Collaborator: Apurba Ganguly (she/her) is an English literature student, pursuing B. Ed (English). She has been eager to understand the intricacies of Memory Studies and Visual Narratives.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Free Digital/Online Learning Resources for Students to Learn and Grow!


AI generated image (

Be it a formative assessment or a competitive exam, study materials are indispensable tools for a student’s preparations. At the same time, they contribute significantly to the student’s knowledge acquisition capabilities.

With the changing times, the medium of education and knowledge transfer has transformed immensely. Such that, digital teaching aids are currently being used extensively within and beyond the classroom to develop a better learner-centric ambience. Most importantly, the domino effect of technology being used for educational purposes was initiated quite inadvertently by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the world came to a halt, certain industries kept on with their endeavors during the pandemic, like the Education sector. As classroom teaching techniques transcended the concrete walls to be implemented in online video classes, there was a surge in demand for online tools and resources among students for better understanding of the lessons being taught in class. Thus, the need for building digital repositories was deemed necessary.

Although several organizations, private and governmental, have their own archives containing multimedia resources and study materials, we at No Herd Mentality decided to build our own repository that would benefit students to a great extent, from secondary to postgraduate level.


  • Indian Culture - Digital District Repository:

A wonderful way to introduce young students to the extensive cultural landscape of our country, the Digital District Repository is the best starting point for parents and educators to consider. The interactive web design allows the viewers to access the historical accounts and events of each state across the country on the basis of its famous personalities, traditional and cultural forms, hidden facts and gems, as well as major events that shaped the legacy of the state. The coalescence of IT and History to educate students about the national as well as regional cultures of India is indeed a phenomenal mode to make learning a fun experience among children of all ages.

  • National Digital Library of India:

The National Digital Library of India boasts of a huge array of study materials and resources for school students in classes X and XII (CBSE) to prepare for their board exams as well as various competitive exams such as GATE, JAM, IIT-JEE, NEET, UGC-NET, IBPS, RRB, SSC, and UPSC. It also features archives of scholarly works and journal publications to benefit students pursuing higher studies.

  • Crash Course:

One of the most popular channels on YouTube, the Vlogbrothers (Hank and John Green) came up with the idea to kickstart a separate series of educational videos that would help students in the American Education system to understand the lessons being taught in class without the hassles of study notes and homework. Thus, Crash Course came into being as a YouTube channel in 2011. In the span of over 20 years, Crash Course has created more than 1.5k videos spanning across hundreds of subjects and study topics. Be it Literature, Psychology, Physics, Philosophy, Chemistry, Film Studies and whatnot, Crash Course covers almost every aspect of the syllabi taught at the school and college levels, excluding non-US content. You can click on the link above to access their web library.

  • TED Ed:

If Crash Course videos are too long for you to devote enough time, then you can always consider the bite-sized educational videos by TED. This series of animated videos (also available on YouTube) encompasses every major subject that is taught at the college level. However, what distinguishes TED Ed videos from other educational channels is that the former provide thought-provoking ways to viewers to look at a particular lesson or topic. Interestingly, TED Ed videos emphasize less on school test preparations and more on the need to educate students and viewers alike about the various phenomena that we see around ourselves. In short, TED Ed videos go beyond the textbook to help you read between the lines.

  • SWAYAM: 

One of the major initiatives taken up by the Indian Government in terms of making education accessible to all, SWAYAM consists of a huge array of courses and materials from the disciplines of STEM, Social Science, Commerce, as well as Humanities. Nine major coordinators provide these courses that have been designed by renowned scholars and educators from across the country. While these courses are offered for free on the website, students can choose to sit for a pen-paper exam or a CBT/Computer-Based Test to get a certification for the said course. These certificates do accentuate the candidate’s professional skills as well as academic qualifications, thus creating a good impression on the recruiters.

  • eGyanKosh: 

The courses offered on eGyanKosh are copyrighted by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Another popular digital academic repository, eGyanKosh provides course materials for different programs at the Bachelor’s degree, guiding students with the best quality resources so that they can ace the exams as well as learn about the contents of their respective programs in the long run. eGyanKosh also offers links to pre-recorded lectures, university publications, as well as self-learning materials so that students can strategize their knowledge acquisition methods accordingly.

That being said, this list of digital resources and study materials will be updated time and again with more innovative and useful academic websites and archives by us at No Herd Mentality. This way, students, parents, and educators as well can refer to these sources in the course of the learning phase, so that the students can not only understand the nitty-gritty of the lessons being taught in class, but also establish the right state of mind to frame their own ideas and opinions as independent individuals.

Apurba Ganguly (she/her) is an English Literature student, pursuing B.Ed (English). She has been eager to understand the intricacies of Memory Studies and Visual Narratives.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Let's provide Effective Career Guidance to our School Students by tapping into Media Contents


Image by Debi Brady from Pixabay

The OECD Website (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) mentions, Effective Career Guidance enables young people to develop informed, critical perspectives about the relationship between education and employment, helping them to visualise and plan their transitions through schooling and into attractive work. Effective guidance is rich in first-hand encounters with the labour market, begins early and responds to the personal circumstances and interests of students. 

As you would be aware OECD is an international organisation which comprises of 38 member developed countries and it works to build policies across various spheres of human society. 

If you are a parent or a teacher or a career counsellor from India, then OECD's Career Readiness Project featured on their website is bound to catch your attention. OECD member countries like Australia, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Korea, Malta, New Zealand, Spain, UK and US, has put Effective Career Guidance into practice in their formal schooling system - Primary, Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary School.

The formal education system in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and US have Practice of Career Guidance right from their Primary school all the way to their Upper Secondary school. In countries like Finland, France, Germany and Korea the Practice of Career Guidance is introduced from Lower Secondary school onwards and Malta introduces it in their Upper Secondary school. (data sourced from OECD website on 1st of Nov 2022).

Career Guidance for students through their schooling years produces positive outcomes such as connecting the subjects with the world of work, removing blind spots and raising awareness of the world of possibilities, raising self-motivation, goal setting, increases focus and improves grades. 

From my personal experience as a parent and as a career counsellor, I regretfully have to say a systematic, formal career guidance and career awareness program is lacking in our formal Indian schooling system. Of course lot of positive changes are happening with the introduction of National Education Policy (NEP), but as on date our students are not receiving universal access to career guidance during their formal schooling for making connections of the subjects they study in school with the future world of work (professions). 

A multi-stakeholder engagement is needed for developing a holistic solution to meet the needs of our students. With the eventual implementation of NEP (National Education Policy) there is hope it will address this gap in our existing schooling system. This blog won't be able to do justice to the seriousness and enormity of this topic. For that, we need to indulge in serious academic reading of policy papers and follow the experts and policy makers. Hence, I am taking the approach of 'Plucking The Low Hanging Fruits', which can be easily practiced by parents, teachers and career counsellors. 

Let's provide Effective Career Guidance to our School Students by taking into Media Contents which offers insights into different careers and professions. We can exploit the opportunity created by penetration of internet, smart phones, YouTube, video-on-demand (VOD) and Over-the-Top (OTT), to provide access of these contents to all school students cutting across the urban-rural divide and the socio-economic strata, by spreading the word across through social media.

As well meaning adults, let's introduce our children/students to these contents and let's stimulate their curiosity and help them to connect the dots, by engaging with them in a two-way discussion. Such practice of effective career guidance by using media which has the flavour of entertainment, will also be not be perceived by the students as another over-bearing class, in their already cramped schedule of studies and tuitions!

This blog will be a running log entry of career related media contents. As I come across such contents I shall add them into the list. I also call upon your support to provide contents you come across, through the comment section and please do share this blog among your network so that it reaches to more students, parents, teachers and counsellors.

Together we can make a positive difference for our children and students, by exposing them to at least some form of Effective Career Guidance, instead of just waiting when a formal introduction of guidance will happen into our formal education system. 

List of Media Contents: 

INDIA'S BEST JOBS on Discovery+ Channel

It features 26 professions as on date, spread over 2 seasons (13 episodes per season). The show is hosted by Meiyang Chang a dentist turned performer (achieved fame by debuting in Indian Idol). The theme of the show is 'Discovery how one makes their passion a successful career'.

Professions showcased on this show are: 

Season 1: Canine Behaviorist, Paragliding Instructor, Travel Blogger, RJ, Wedding Filmmaker, Fitness Trainer, Custom Bike Modifier, Organic Food Entrepreneurs, Drone Operator, Stand-up Comedian, Celebrity Chef, Lifestyle and Fitness Coach and Film Director.

Season 2: DJ, Project Management, Interior Designer, Theater Director, Ecostay Entrepreneur, Production Designer, Food Truck Entrepreneurs, Hairstylist, Private Detective, Automotive Journalist, Wildlife Photographer, Casting Director and Hospitality Entrepreneur. 

Host Chang goes through a checklist at the end of each episode. This Chang Checklist comprises of:
1. Are you your own Boss? 2. Job Satisfaction? 3. Does it pay your Bill? 4. Client satisfaction? 
5. Perks?
This checklist can introduce the students to the concept of passion, hard work, business acumen and finance management. It can make them realise, these concepts are the underlying principles across any professions they choose in future.


This is a four episode series which follows four cadets - Mudit Tewari, Priya Sharma, Amogh Bhandralia and Kartik Thaku as they undergo various stages of training at the famed institution in Dundigul, Hyderabad. 

This series aim to inspire the youth of India to look at the Air Force as a career opportunity. The series also provides insights into the life of Air Force Officers, their journey from a cadet to a Flying officer. 
The series makes the students aware of entrance exams like NDA and CDS and offers insights on the hard work, dedication and skills required by them to qualify, complete the training and meet the demands of the call for duty.