How does the perfect school look for a teenager?
A school named ‘Last School’ from Auroville was the best school of my life.
I was 13 years old when we moved to Tamil Nadu, Auroville. It was already 3rd month of our stay in India.
At that time there were holidays, so it was a perfect time to join the school. There were 2 schools we could take into consideration. We decided to move me to the smaller, artistic one as to my language limitations at the time.
The schools were next to each other. One was ‘Future School’ and the other ‘Last School’. In the first one, they taught all the subjects so English was a must. The second one was an art school where there were max 30 people in all, with teachers. I loved it and was very surprised as my Polish schools (till that time I have been to 5 of them) were always big.
We went there and introduced ourselves. I joined and was guided a little by my new met friends who spoke Russian (my second first language). The first day I was so excited that I woke up at 6 o’clock without a blink of an eye. Got ready and took a ride on my new rented bike.
Every morning at 8:30 there would be a meeting of all in a big circle. Each class was 1 hour long with no breaks in between. After 2 hours we would have a tea time when we ate bread with butter or jam and delicious masala tea – tea with milk – made by our school ammas (in India mother equivalent to maid), very lovely and cheerful women. After 4 hours we would have lunchtime when we were served food that was prepared in a place called ‘Solar Kitchen’. My favorite was noodles with tomato sauce. And for dessert, you could take a bowl of curd (kind of yogurt) with sugar cane.
I was in the youngest class. We would have geography, biology, physics, mathematics, informatics, and more. The Wednesdays were two-thirds only art. Everyone was given a task like carving wood or painting flowers. Everyone did everything in their own time… if there was something you needed to finish… no rush, you can always ask for help.
Needs of students
All the classes were adjusted to the students’ needs… For example, I was in big need of English teachers so I had 6 of them. 1 that taught our whole class, 1 was reading English books with me and discussing them. A woman from the USA talked about spelling and gave me a piece of paper that I have till this day, the other one was my older friend who knew Russian. And spontaneously I had an old man who came and told me a story of Ramayana or a woman who came for a time and taught me and a few of my friends. I remember counting all the teachers but now I can’t remember more.
And imagine in no time I was better and better in the art of communicating in English. I even can’t remember how I learned it or how I communicated without my skills. I only remember sporadic moments when I asked some specific questions like the difference between ‘say’ and ‘talk’ or ‘take’ and give’, ‘lend’ and ‘borrow’ or when should I use ‘had’ or ‘was’.
There were some occasional classes too, the one I remember was about being ‘extraordinary’, while at that exact time I didn’t understand much the word was spoken countless times. In addition, we had a movie evening (or was it a day – I don’t exactly remember). And as this is a part of Auroville city, there were many events like visiting a museum.
Besides, there was also a sports class that not everyone attended at a place called Dehashakti. Although there were all children from different schools including younger classes. I would come there, after classes at about 3:30 pm and join the activities. Everyone was divided into age groups and we would play many different games like volleyball, basketball, baseball, table tennis, and more. Occasionally we would participate in running, jumping, and many more. For a while, we also had gymnastics when the right teacher came. After all, we finished at around 5 pm and we could drink sweet lemon juice and bread with salted butter or kabuli (chickpeas). After a good and sweaty physical effort, it was the tastiest of all.
The price for this wonderful school was 8000 Rs (around 120$) for a month. It included lunches and all the resources needed.
Those were my best times as I realize now.