The power of collective learning

Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world’s work, and the power to appreciate life. – Brigham Young

Life is laden with choices, yet one choice that is not in our hand, is that of our own birth. Children are born into the world, into families and furthermore into specific socio-economic systems. The lack of choice and financial resources that exist in underprivileged children of our society accounts for a large proportion of untapped potential. Potential to create change and to develop enriching lives for themselves and their future generations. Change lies in the act of choosing to step beyond certain conditions. Though it’s often forgotten that choice is also a privilege, not to imply that it’s unattainable. This is where the impact of education becomes pivotal in changing the narrative of these children and the futures they have the power and potential to build.

The work at Purnkuti towards child development through education and care is essential on various levels—personal, emotional, creative, and social development—through skills of communication, literacy, character building, conviction, and compassion to think with clarity and agency. Each child’s learning curve is designed on the basis of their developmental needs assessed through counseling sessions with each child. Individual care and development are essential in understanding each child’s need so their growth is specific and effective. The culture of group schooling and providing education, especially for these children can be phenomenal, not only on an individual level but also on a collective level.

The act of learning together—where there is an exchange of knowledge, skills, and emotions among children together, every day in class or during cultural activities—creates a strong foundation of moral support and community-building among these children as they share similar struggles. The solidarity that can emerge from understanding one another struggles, to come together to learn through the guidance of teachers and peers, builds a space of mutual empowerment. Research shows that “Positive group experiences, moreover, have been shown to contribute to student learning, retention and overall college success” (Astin, 1997; Tinto, 1998; National Survey of Student Engagement, 2006). Group learning for children in their early years is powerful for acquiring the tools of tackling complex problems, supporting and encouraging one another to learn, sharing responsibilities and ideas, strong interpersonal skills, and the creation of a shared identity with other students.

These aspects of development are essential for the progress of these children that come from backgrounds that do not always support and inculcate such values that are beneficial for integrating into the work culture and the society at large. The work at Purnkuti can also be considered as a way to not only develop individual progress but also to develop strong compassionate communities of the future. Space and home for children to have the power to express and question, the power to navigate the world with confidence and knowledge, and the power to appreciate life as an empowered individual part of a larger community of Purnkuti and beyond.