In 2016, I started 10th grade in a Cambridge school. It was a conventional school which was quite alright; however, I wasn’t fond of my subjects as I had to choose just 1 stream (I chose Science). I didn’t think of changing schools initially because I thought this is something everyone in India had to deal with. No matter where I’d go, I’d have to choose just ONE stream. Then I stumbled upon DLRC through a friend. My parents and I met with Ajay Uncle to get to know more about DLRC, and in all honesty I wondered whether this really was a school! Ajay Uncle spoke to us about internships, Social Impact Projects, mixing and matching subjects from different streams, and hands-on learning. I was blown away!
I had already started 10th grade, and with Cambridge IGCSE’s, 9th and 10th grade are spent preparing for the board exam. So it didn’t quite make sense for me to move to DLRC immediately. But I was so excited to jump into this new concept of a ‘learning centre’ that I attended a trial day at DLRC and then joined after the first few months of 10th grade. There’s not even a small part of me that will ever regret that decision :)
I couldn’t change my subjects since it was too late by that time, but I sat in a class for Development Studies and I enjoyed it so much that I felt the need to take on an extra subject! Development Studies is now a mandatory class for everyone in 9th and 10th in DLRC and I think that was a fantastic decision! It’s a perfect blend of Economics, Civics, and Environmental Studies. It’s a subject which really helps form individualised perspectives about things happening in the world. We did a lot of reading from the textbook and articles on current events, followed by analysis and lively discussions and debates.
Once I joined DLRC, I began enjoying every subject so much. I even started to enjoy Physics and Maths (which I earlier loathed)! I recall my first Physics class with Pavan. According to our lesson plan, we had to fix a fan that stopped working in one of the classrooms! I found it absolutely bizarre! And as we fixed the fan, we learnt about the different elements and circuits - it's safe to say that quite a few concepts were cleared once I applied them in real life!
In our Math class with Ajay Uncle, we had to each sit and prove the quadratic equation! Not that our exams would require us to do that, but the whole point was to understand why this formula was being used for quadratic equations. Through this, we understood what we were doing rather than plugging numbers into a formula blindly. In most schools, you’re required to memorise formulas, theories, and words. Often we don’t even understand why something is the answer. At DLRC, I learned to question everything and know the why behind every answer in every single class.
Now your academics are not the only thing you need to focus on at DLRC. It really is a holistic learning space.
We had our Social Impact Projects (SIP’s) where people came up with various social issues which we could attempt to tackle (for example: Amara- spreading awareness about healthy and sustainable menstruation, Khaana 2 Khazaana- collecting waste food from stores and distributing it to the needy, etc). As a group, we got a dedicated time slot to work on our SIP’s. We divided our workload and also worked after school hours to make our projects successful. We were encouraged to apply for internships after school and our facilitators also helped connect us to organisations where we could apply to gain experience.
The next aspect was our Habits Of Work and Learning (HOWL’s). Like regular schools, we got a report card and feedback after each term. But we didn’t get a grade based solely on our academics. Our grade was composed of 50% of our academic scores and 50% of our HOWL’s. HOWL’s were a display of our character from multiple aspects, from our proactivity in lessons and activities, to our mindfulness and participation, to our perseverance, respect and empathy.
I cannot emphasise enough on how important these HOWL’s were. They helped me become grounded and curated excellent diplomatic skills. And I love how this accounted for 50% of our grade because school’s aren't just supposed to teach academics. They should also teach students how to be wholesome citizens of the world. These HOWL’s really go a long way for all DLRCians, as they are what make us stand out from others throughout our life.
Towards the end of the academic year, it was announced that DLRC will be moving to a new campus (at that time we were just 50 students in the Sairam Bungalow DLRC campus) - a sustainable campus that was going to be built on a farm. Soon we were told that we’ll all spend a month on the new campus, helping with the construction! We would all pitch in with construction in the mornings, then we’d have our classes under trees in the afternoon! It was a whole new experience: having classes in what later became a sandpit, under the clear blue sky, lying down and learning!
During this month we also prepared for our Community Meet where we would all showcase our creative sides. Soon enough this fun month of construction, art and studying came to an end. We had our Community Meet which was always an incredibly supporting environment. The entire DLRC community was like a family.
I will always feel connected to our DLRC farm campus. I saw it when it was completely barren - just plain ground with a ton of trees (I’m still quite impressed that not a single one of those trees were cut!). Our farm campus is one of a kind, I always feel at home there :)
- Surbhi Bhandari