Education, community, courage: Why I care

I got my Masters in Education from Harvard, but the story of my love for learning goes way back. Animated conversations with mummy as I sat on my potty seat. A “bulletin board” at the back of my bookshelf with new themes every month. Pretend teaching for my coterie of curious stuffed toys. A weird curiosity that demands action and lives for people.

I went from Coonoor, a small town in India to Rishi Valley School, a progressive boarding school, but life took a most surprising turn when I dropped out of Grade 11. The notion of postponing to claim my agency and make choices in my learning seemed wrong. I had a hunch and a plan to start, and with that, I forged a personalized open-schooling journey centred around the arts, community organizing and project-based learning around exceptional mentors (who I stubbornly ask for feedback and help even 8 years on). After those two gap-years, I found myself back in schools as a researcher with Evaldesign, curious about how we could build life skills of problem-solving, civic engagement, empathy and taking initiative in Indian students & teachers. This curiosity led me to study assessments & policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, pursue research at the MIT Playful Journey Lab, and teach with leadership & organizing guru Prof. Marshall Ganz. Post-COVID-19, I have been working with professors at Ivy League institutions (empires) and indie course creators (the rebels) to create effective online courses and warm, connected communities.

I could tell a story about each of these journeys, but the threads that run through it all are of education, community and courage.

Education: Keep the learning at the center of everything I do.

Community: It takes a village to raise learners, and I want to learn how to raise villages.

Courage: “Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection” – with our own truth, and with our village. (Brené Brown).

Introducing Animo

Perhaps my story gives you a clue about why the word ‘Animo’ feels like my spirit word. In Latin, Spanish and Italian, it variously means: to encourage, to animate, to make alive. It means mind, zest, mettle, soul.

I am nurturing Animo to be a village square of village squares. This newsletter is my megaphone at the moment. Answer the 5pm call, come hang out here to hear and tell stories of people enabling learning, building communities and practising courage.