The Aha! Times

The Aha! Time is among the most loved parts of our curriculum, appreciated by parents and students both. In the words of Ms. Abha Bansal, the lady who has worked hard on giving this programme a concrete shape, Aha! aims at tickling students in the right places to create interests, and help those interests evolve into passions. We got a chance to catch up with her, and get a personal perspective on how this programme was conceptualised and what are her thoughts on the way it is shaping up. Here is a small interview which opens a window to most of her feelings on Aha!

Q) How did the word Aha come about?

A) The word Aha is a feeling, not an acronym. It is the feeling of wow, wonder, something which stays in the memory lifelong. That is why we wanted to call the programme Aha. Our main aim is to elicit this feeling from every child, as well as the facilitator. The facilitator is an intrinsic part of this entire journey. Unless the facilitator feels wow, the child in his or her class will not feel wow.

Q) How was the Aha! Programme conceptualised?

A) This programme was conceptualised by the people who conceptualised the school. We then got together and worked to give a better form to this idea. The then CEO, Mr. Shikhar Malhotra, he is a very strong contender for Liberal Arts. He feels that every child has the right to a liberal arts foundation. Sports is again something which is very important and our now CEO, Col. Gopal Karunakaran, is absolutely passionate about the same. To this very day, he gets down in the field and plays with the children. Sporting is also not just an activity. It teaches you a lot of values and life skills.

Yes, we worked on giving Aha! a shape, but it was always a part of the very foundation of the kind of education we wanted to impart at Shiv Nadar School.

Q) If executed well, what do you hope for the Aha! Programme to achieve for the school children?

A) At the face of it, Aha is a good Sports and Arts programme, along with a lot of other activities which work towards Value Education and holistic approach to education. However, the by-products are a good personality, holistic perspective on life, stress free living and happiness. I visit the schools personally to observe the programme as much as I can, and little moments of joy as well as brilliance are our daily sources of success from this programme. Since Aha! is now into its third year, teachers are a lot more comfortable and confident while executing it, but Aha! is a very dynamic programme. It is still evolving. Needless to say, Aha! ties down very closely with our motto of ‘Education for Life’.

Q) How has been the response of parents to this programme?

A) There is always a mixed bag of parents, but whatever interactions and feedback I have had from the parents, definitely 85-90% parents feel that Aha! is the best part of the school curriculum, and it adds a lot of value to the education of their child. Of course, there are other parents who feel there should be more of academics and less of activities. Even among activities, many parents feel it should be performance based activities, where children can excel. However, we at Shiv Nadar School believe that we should have an appreciation based module, where performance and excellence is by-product.

Q) If you could pursue one of the Aha! Activities, what would it be?

A) Ah! That question puts me in a soup. I would have wanted to learn everything!

Q) If you could teach one of the Aha! Activities, which one would that be?

A) My forte is dancing. I have been trained in Kathak for 20 years. So I think I would be best off teaching dance to children. That said, I have to mention that the facilitator of all the Aha! Programmes have to be absolute experts in their field, since Aha! aims at perfection in whatever activity the students choose to pursue.

Q) Is there Aha! Story which you could share with us?

A) There are so many stories that my mind has started bussing with them. There are wow and wonder moments which happen everyday. My favourites are the dhaniya story (which can be read here) and the sandwich story. During one of the cookery classes, in which we introduce fire-free cooking to children, the teacher began with talking about the different kind of sandwiches and what all could you call sandwiches. The children then came up with questions and examples and innovations of their own – right from an ice-cream sandwich to a parantha sandwich to a matthi-achaar sandwich! It was so amazing to see children open up, talk, discuss, think and develop their own versions of an idea as simple as a sandwich!

Nov 23, 2014 by Shiv Nadar School Noida

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