Rohan Parikh, Managing Director, The Green Acres Academy

Rohan Parikh has attained a BSc in Economics from Wharton Business School, an MBA from INSEAD, and has more than 10 years of experience in the Real Estate and Hospitality industries. In 2013 Mr. Parikh entered the field of education by founding The Green Acres Academy in Chembur, and simultaneously pursuing a Master’s degree in
Education through Johns Hopkins University. His aim is to provide affordable yet holistic, and well-rounded education by adapting the latest research in teaching and learning techniques within the Indian context. What started as one campus of The Green Acres Academy in Chembur, Mumbai, has grown to a total of 3 campuses across Mumbai and Pune, as well as the latest Seven Rivers International School (an IGCSE affiliate school).

“Play is not a break from learning. It is endless, delightful, deep, engaging, practical learning. It’s the doorway into a child’s heart,” said Vince Gowmon as he explained the beauty and importance of play, a method of experiential learning. Experiential learning or learning by doing is a powerful way to engage students and ensure deep learning. It gives students the opportunity to have real-world experience. Learning is active, unlike one-directional, teacher-led classrooms where learning students are passive recipients of the information.

At the Green Acres Academy students participate in experiential learning in multiple ways. For instance, they are exposed to the very valuable, design thinking process. One group of students has participated in City as Lab, a project that aims to give students the platform to study and find solutions to local problems, using their scientific knowledge. Not only does this immerse students in their context deeply, but it also builds a scientific temper.

Similarly, the school’s student council used design thinking to understand the student body they represent. With the data collected, the student council has found and will implement solutions to improve the student experience and represent student interest more clearly, to make school a place all students are happy and comfortable at. Here, students collaborated, used their research and problem-solving skills, just as they would be expected to in the real world.

Such experiences are much like science experiments. While they are challenging, they provide incomparable exposure. Students have the opportunity to apply their learning, see it’s value first-hand, and find relevance in what they are doing. Experiential learning is most effective when students reflect on the experiences they have and build deep connections with conceptual classroom topics. Such deliberation makes abstract concepts and information learned in the classroom relevant and relatable.

Imagine for a second, the excitement on the faces of young students on a field trip. These students are at the zoo to see mammals and reptiles in their environments after having studied them in their science classes. Besides being a powerful learning experience, it is likely to be an experience students enjoy. Young learners look forward to the chance to be curious, investigate, test their hypothesis, and actively use their knowledge or gain new knowledge in authentic spaces.

In the contemporary world, successful people are positive and productive contributors. Those that do well in their workplaces, solve problems of society, and meet consumers’ unmet needs are great examples! Experiential learning is an effective method to prepare students to become sharp individuals who are ready to join and lead the workforce and take on the many challenges of adulthood!

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