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Sholai Success: A Vindication Of My Parenting Paradigm

September 25, 2014 | By

Every activity whether it is cooking, serving, cleaning up, gardening, repairing et al is shared by every child and teacher. The teacher child ratio is 1: 6. As far as the index of happiness is considered – it is higher than I have seen in any school.

Sholai School Ramendra Kumar

A dark, cold night, a room on a hill  shrouded in  darkness, ensconced in the midst of nature  – raw and untamed, a group of kids – wide eyed, holding their breath in anticipation, six candles lighting up the room, shadows playing hide and seek and standing in the middle  Ramen the raconteur  – a perfect  ambience  for a ghost story!

And that night of 11th September I spun a clutch of spooky yarns and the students and teachers of Sholai School hung on to every word and gesture with sublime attention. While the little ones hunted for laps to melt into and shoulders to lean on, their seniors wanted me to raise the bar (of spookiness) with each passing tale.

My wife Madhavi and I had arrived at the sylvan Sholai School, which is around 18 kms from Kodaikanal, the previous evening and were accorded a rousing welcome by the dapper and ever smiling Mr. Hemant, the Administrator of the  institution.

Sholai School has children from across the country and beyond, living in perfect synergy with each other and with nature.

Sholai School has children from across the country and beyond, living in perfect synergy with each other and with nature.

Sholai School is best defined by the acronym CLOOAT (Centre for Learning, Organic Agriculture and Appropriate Technology).  It has adopted the practice of rain water harvesting and electrification by solar electric panels.  It has an organic farm, micro hydro-electric plants, bio gas plants, compost pits and a wind generator.  The objective of the school is to provide holistic education and achieve a balance between academic and environmental concerns.

Sholai, which means tropical evergreen forests, was established in 1989 by Mr. Brian Jenkins who is  British by birth.  Mr. Jenkins is continuing in his role of a principal, guru, mentor and father figure and is respected and adored by everyone on the campus.

Madhavi and I spent four days – 96 odd hours of exciting, captivating and fun filled moments.  Our guest room was 200 metres from the dining hall and our first walk at night to bridge this distance will remain etched  in my memory. It was pitch dark and we had to  negotiate  a slender, emaciated path through thick undergrowth armed with a solar lantern. The sounds of the jungle, the shimmering fireflies lighting up the inky blackness and the sense of being alone in near silent communion with nature – it was a fantastic feeling.

Sholai School Ramendra Kumar 3

The class rooms are perched on hill tops and are linked by a bridge over a river which has the reputation of breaching its boundaries at the slightest pretext. The bridge, which looked straight out of Nat Geo, had been built by the students.

Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm is available on Amazon

Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm suggests a fresh avatar for the new age parent. This topical e-book by Ramendra Kumar has the potential to make a good parent – the best parent.

My book Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm had been released a few days back and I had spent a couple of sessions interacting with the parents.  As I watched the kids and their teachers in action I was filled with a huge sense of déjà vu. I had talked in my book about Five Pillars of Sharing, Caring, Fun and Joy, Healthy Living and Invaluable Values. Each of these facets of effective parenting  are being followed at Sholai  and with great results.

Every activity whether it  is cooking,  serving, cleaning up,  gardening, repairing  et al is  shared by every child and teacher.  The teacher child ratio is 1: 6. What better example of a perfect care quotient can you get? As far as the index of happiness is considered – it is higher than I have seen in any school. I spoke to children of all ages and from different backgrounds they were happy and were enjoying each moment.  Sholai school encourages sports and I was delighted to watch a very different game of football in progress. This was the first time I actually saw girls and boys playing together – head to head and foot to foot!

Read Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm ebook Launched

As far as values are concerned the school offers a veritable bouquet.  It has children from across the country and beyond, living in perfect synergy with each other and with nature.  Dignity of labour is a credo which is an integral part of every child’s activity.  Trust and togetherness, camaraderie and companionship, enterprise and innovation and complete absence of competition, Sholai has all this and more.

I conducted creative writing workshops and storytelling sessions.  The kids participated with gusto, unleashing their creativity to my utter delight. The evening before I left I had the last round of storytelling which ended with a song by Madhavi and a dance by me! Slips of paper with the responses of the bright minds and pristine hearts were handed over to me and I kept them carefully like nuggets of gold.

Read about how Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm  suggests a fresh avatar for the new age parent.

Finally as I bid the Sholai scholars goodbye in their dining hall there was a clamour : “Mantra, Sir!”

I had included a chant conjured up by me in one of the sessions and the children had lapped it up. It included a rhyme, a jig and bit of jive.

I had included a chant conjured up by me in one of the sessions and the children had lapped it up. It included a rhyme, a jig and bit of jive.

Within a few seconds every kid and every teacher had joined me and the hall exploded with yells and shouts and collage of vibrant moves.

A clamour for autographs followed and I happily signed the books, feeling like a rock star in more ways than one.

As we made our way back after a round of hi-fives, hugs, smiles, sniffles and misty eyes I couldn’t help feeling that the success of Sholai vindicates my own paradigm of bringing up kids.

Read Of Paradigms, Parables and Parenting – Ramendra Kumar’s sessions with parents and children in Coimbatore

Slips of paper with the responses of the bright minds and pristine hearts were handed over to me and I kept them carefully like nuggets of gold.

Slips of paper with the responses of the bright minds and pristine hearts were handed over to me and I kept them carefully like nuggets of gold.

Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is an award-winning writer, performance storyteller and inspirational speaker with 49 books. His writings have been translated into 32 languages and included in 26 textbooks and many anthologies in various countries. Ramen has written across all genres ranging from picture books to adult fiction, satire, poetry, travelogues, biographies and on issues related to parenting and relationships. His writings have been published by the major publishing houses in India. His books brought out by National Book Trust (NBT), India have notched up sales of more than 4.9 lakh copies in just one year. Ramen has been invited to several international literary festivals as well as Indian events such as Jaipur Litfest and seminars organised by Sahitya Akademi and IGNOU. The author has won a total of 41 awards in the competition for writers of children’s literature organised by Children’s Book Trust (CBT) over the years, which is among the highest by any writer. Ramen was chosen as the ‘Author and Storyteller of the Year’ (2022), on ‘Talking Stories’, London, UK’s number one Radio Programme dedicated to the art of storytelling. He was nominated as a Jury Member for the Best Children’s Author Category of The Times of India’s ‘Women AutHer’ Awards, 2020. Ramen was also selected as a mentor for the Scholastic Writers Academy. An alumnus of the prestigious Hyderabad Public School (HPS), Ramen is an Engineer & an MBA. He and his inspiration, his wife Madhavi, were General Managers at SAIL, when they took Voluntary Retirement to pursue their respective passions. Their children are bonsai celebrities in their own right. While Ankita is a youth icon and a travel blogger with an Instagram following of 296 K, Aniket creates cool Apps and designs covers for his dad’s books. Ramen is now a Cancer warrior and an inspiration to many. His website is www.ramendra.in and he has a page devoted to him on Wikipedia.
All Posts of Ramendra Kumar

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