Dear Neev Community,
COVID made the last two years difficult for everybody; teachers, students and parents. But every community member seems to have followed - consciously or unconsciously - the wonderful advice from the Bhagavad gita Karmanye Vadikaraste, Maa Phaleshu Kadaach Na, Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey, Sangostva Akarmani (focus on your efforts and results will follow)
Things are normalizing. High school was nearly F2F all year, middle school mostly F2F, and even Primary got nearly half the year F2F. This meant a return to learning culture, and the rich fabric of school life, including sports, drama, music, clubs, inter school events, in-school or parent exhibitions for PYPx, TOK, Eureka, learning journeys for vaccinated cohorts, three board exams in parallel for the first time, and at the end our first F2F graduation for our third graduating cohort. The return to school life was a welcome relief for teachers who thrive on the relationships, feedback, questions, eye contact and body language of learners. The online world gave us learning continuity but intellectual well being is incomplete without emotional and social well being. COVID and online learning amplified children’s social-emotional challenges, loneliness and digital safety. It made us ask the basic question; what is learning?
Our definition of desired learning has finally evolved to 5 pillars; self directed learning, disciplinary thinker, communicator, collaborator and community builder. We will spend many years building curriculum, teacher capability and student reflection with parent commitment. The year also ended with a bittersweet farewell to North Campus for our PYP, with students and teachers set to move to Yemalur next year.
The 2022-23 Calendar represents a paradigm shift in community engagement with parents, students, faculty, and other schools with more sports, more choice, more travel, more service, and more holistic learning, more clubs, inter and intra school events. Our physical spaces in senior school are changing for opportunities to explore interests and build passions. This will help kids use time at school building leadership, artistic talent, reading, sportsmanship, service, writing, and much much more. Student government is a serious initiative, and will hopefully grow to significant impact next year. We end the year reminding students that there are many definitions of success and everyone succeeds. But finding who you are is a continuous exploration of developing abilities and interests.
Neev aims to change the status quo in education by building a school that is idealistic, honest, and ethical so our learners can be the same. Our children do well at academics but must fight the precociousness foisted upon them by a rapidly changing world by recognizing their privilege, questioning their impact with authenticity, and recognizing the rat race without looking down on it. Neev hopes to do this by asking more of our learners, teachers and parents. As a song goes - May the road rise up to meet you, may the rain fall gently on your fields, and may the sun shine warm your face. Khuda apko Mahfooz rakhe.
Dear Neev Community,
COVID meant Neev was online for most of 2020-21. But the few physical school months for Grades 6-12 reaffirmed our faith that face to face learning is the most effective mode for all learners. Add to that the recent request from a third grader that 18 months be added to the end of their 12th grade because of what COVID cost them in lost experience!
We learned to be safe while working from school, and innovative and resilient while working from home. But COVID brought us losses in our community. I find it useful to remind myself in times like these that each of us and our children are one of 7 billion people on the planet, only 1 of 100 billion people who have ever lived on this planet, and our species is only one of 10 million species on the planet. Earth is only one of 100 billion planets in our galaxy, which is just one of 2 trillion galaxies in the universe. We are tiny but our lives are made significant because of our education. And therefore we ask our learners - how can you make a difference?
COVID has forced our teachers and students to be mentally tough. We moved our academic core and unique initiatives online. Our community events for reading and teacher conferences with award winning global speakers, academic and arts exhibitions for PYP, MYP, DP and ICSE, our student government, our school newsletters, our learning journeys, IDEAS@NEEV, language day, Sarvajeet Diwas, board exams and more were online and globally benchmarked. We realized the power of simplifying and consolidating learning instruction and access, clarity of organisation structures for decision making, and the power of reflection.
Our students did well academically but what I am most proud of is their resilience, commitment to service and, holistic learning. The moments of deep learning that stay with me are the PYP exhibition, online exhibitions for MYP Personal Project, Theory of Knowledge in DP; the many spotlights for all the arts in PYP and Senior school. All displayed the creativity, maturity and discipline of our learners. Our first major student government truly were ‘The Incredibles’; they wonderfully led service, culture, academic and sports initiatives through the year setting a path for future govt.
The NEASC accreditation, begun in 2019 but completed in April 2021, reinforced the commitment, capacity, capability and conceptual understanding of our teachers, the self directed learning of our students, and the trust of our parents. This adds strength to our colleges bound students for the US, UK, and India, but also importantly was our other provocation for deep reflection pathways, drives our 6 pillars definition of desired learning, and Neev 4.0 strategic plan, to become mission driven and build learning that builds cognitive, social, emotional and ethical domains. Always!
Neev is a culture, ecosystem, community, idea and dream of learning and growth for children and adults. 21st century learners need skills of collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication, but impact needs deep reflection on identity and community. Learners must succeed academically and grow as humans.
A special salute to our Admin team and our Safety Officer for keeping us all safe, in school, during commutes and when people needed help. The future is unknowable but umeed pe duniya kayam hai (the world runs on hope). Hoping to see everybody in person everyday soon
Kavita Gupta Sabharwal
Dear Neev Community,
Ronald Ross, the Almora born, Nobel winning physician, who discovered mosquito borne Malaria transmission while living in Bangalore, said “it takes atleast a decade to understand a new idea”. But even Dr.Ross would have agreed that history lurched over these few months, and COVID19 maybe a pivotal, if not a revolutionary moment challenging past knowledge and forcing questions about what sort of future we want, what makes a healthy society, and what is a 21st century education. The lockdown has brought the forces of 21st century education from 2030 to 2020 in 50 days. In this time learning from home has been on demand and self-paced, showing the significance of learner attitude, learning styles and access to learning. This is about the forces of Brain research - what we know about how learning happens; and Digital Revolution- how we access knowledge and what knowledge we need. It is my case that the third force that drives a progressive education now more than ever before is – Globalisation & Identity.
Global networks today are sharing experiences and learning in education, and in healthcare. While we come together on some fronts, this time has also brought about great conflict that the world must resolve. We had accepted the massive expansion of tourism, trade and finance as a given, but the influence of nationality and identity that was under the surface, has risen up. Ideas and knowledge are non-competitive resources, unlike land, labour and capital, which once shared are not available to the giver in entirety. The Big Question; will the global lockdown create a more globalised world or a less globalised world? All of this also impacts our strategic projects that were already underway for Neev 4.0.
Neev 1.0 was our first 5 years in which we started early years, launched the first dream of Changing the way people in India perceive Early Childhood Education and Care, meeting an unmet need in a very fragmented space lacking quality and regulation. Neev 2.0 was our second 5 years, and included the launch of Neev Academy - this was our finding phase, defining who we want to become, fighting growing pains, constructing a lot; finding funding and land to support the growing dream will always be my biggest memory of this time, but with that the growth of our community of teachers, parents and students. Neev 3.0 was the third 5 years, in which we changed our vision to Reimagining excellence in education in a changing India, continued to face growth pains, building new programmes and leadership, learning from mistakes; continued challenges of funding and construction were made easier by stronger leadership. Neev 4.0 is our next 5 years, to consolidate our learnings with all programmes, make every part of the organisation mission driven, bringing together our learning community with shared principles.
Neev 4.0 has 6 pillars; Recognising Identity, Learning Driven by the Environment, Challenging Ourselves, Making Thinking Visible, Being Disciplined, and Contributing to Community. The six pillars were invisibly present in all we did, but we have now surfaced, articulated and refined them, to ensure their pursuit, through our governance, curriculum and pedagogy. If the first five pillars are about stronger selves, the sixth is about sacrifice, giving back and responsibility. As an IB school, with a privileged learning community, we cannot neglect generosity in our learning, thinking and action. COVID19 has cruelly exposed the chasm between the haves and the have-nots. Online learning of the level that ensured learning continuity at Neev, is only possible for 10% of children around the world, and lesser in India. It is our duty to learn, grow and work towards creating a more equal world. Our salvation lies in our children putting Indias poverty of health, income and education in the museum it belongs.
Neev 4.0 is not about predicting the future but making ourselves worthy of it, and I am delighted to say that we are ready.
Kavita Gupta Sabharwal
Dear Neev Community,
The belief - Schools need to prepare themselves for a new world by thinking harder about how they are educating. Schools need to reinvent themselves for four reasons; early education matters, progress in understanding the brain, future generations enter a very different world than we did, and teaching practices are changing to support these developments.
Early Education Matters- because early interventions matter; 300 billion brain neurons at birth become 1000 trillion by 3 years. But progress accelerates; 1 year (conscious of adult expectations), 2 years (pretend play links to intellect at 5), 3 years (30 million word gap), 4 years (vocab indicates Grade 3 literacy success), 5 years (90% of brain development and 50% of all learning) till 6 years (100% self-esteem development). Children who start behind- stay behind.
Progress in understanding the brain - has led to important second order effects for education like the Flynn Effect (rising IQ's over the last century), along with falling Grit (Angela Duckworth's research on persistence representing intelligence). Carol Dweck's path breaking work on growth vs fixed mindset is helping us bring together the scientific understanding of the plasticity of the brain with teaching practise and indeed also parenting. The new world is important; the pressure for edutainment is huge but its clear there is an element of eat your vegetables in education. Rote learning is less important in a world of always-on internet and education needs to target the IB learner profile and attitudes; to nurture children to be knowledgeable, risk-takers, communicators, reflective, open-minded, inquirers who show curiosity, confidence, respect, integrity and empathy. This validates poet William Butler Yeats who wrote "education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire". Change in the world of work- where automation means that reading, writing, and soft skills are becoming the most important employability skills. The one skill that we know our children will need is the ability to relearn all the time. To try things, to come back, read, try new things, come back read and learn more, and go back again. Teachers are not going anywhere but pedagogical practices are changing. A good school is not hardware but good teachers and the re-invention of schools starts with how we think about them. Good schools have a shared vision, Collaborative practice, Distributed leadership, Performance management rather than performance appraisal, and a cohesive, engaging, rigorous curriculum. Teachers move from didactic teaching of content to teaching of skills, creators of inquiry, and differentiation experts who are transdisciplinary, able to connect concepts across learning areas or subjects. The context of schools is changing; kids are spending more time in school, they receive more communication from teachers, watch more TV, have higher exposure and are also tech savvy, content is easily available, and goals tend to change quickly.
A good school is one that blunts weaknesses, builds on strengths and has inspiring, capable teachers. This is the kind of school that Neev is set up to be and aspires to stay.
At Neev, our mission is to be the benchmark of excellence in education in India. Neev really is a very special learning community and I would be delighted to welcome you for a visit.
Kavita Gupta Sabharwal