If Alohomora could unlock all doors...

 Spell (noun)- A word or a phrase supposed to have magical powers.

Alohomora  (noun)-  A spell used to unlock objects.

The idea behind Alohomora began soon after our Teach for India fellowship ended. After all the highs from our students’ farewell notes and cards had subsided, we started to analyze the impact we had made on our students over the two years. If end of the year test results are any indicator, certainly the kids had progressed from where we started, but barring 40% of the students, the rest were nowhere near the academic level they should be in grade 4. However our kids had definitely grown (and not just physically)!

Our kids had a spark that was hard to miss. They now had a fearless confidence that led them to have conversations with any person we brought to class as volunteers, to lead anti-violence drives in the school community, to share their opinions with their parents, and above all else, to ask questions about everything they saw or learnt. It is this confidence that made them excited and invested to learn in school, instead of being bored in classes and scared of tests. It is also this spark that gives us hope that these kids have entered a different life path than their peers and will grow up to be responsible, productive citizens of society.

The change happened gradually, over two years of struggle and chaos, as lesson plans went to the bin in the first 10 minutes of a session, while hours were spent going off on tangents discussing if Aladdin’s actions as a thief should be forgiven, or finding the connections between addition and multiplication, or debating whether trees had feelings. Classes meant for 40 minutes lasted 2 hours as we gently nudged the quieter kids to speak up, pushing ALL students to be an active learner in class. The choice we made to shift the focus from academic instruction was a huge risk to take in the current education system. But it empowered the kids to believe in themselves and to shine.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.” - Marianne Williamson

We, at Alohomora, believe an excellent education can give kids the push they need to realize their inherent power.

What if we could ignite this ‘spark’ we’re talking about in a shorter time span and without compromising on traditional academic instruction? What if we could just introduce kids to the skills and mindset required so they gain the confidence to be engaged in their own learning? What if we could kickstart the thought process kids need to discover their talents and see the immense potential they have? What if we could unlock their minds to the world of possibilities in front of them? What if we could just say Alohomora!  

And that’s what we aim to do.

We want to have short term engagements with students and work with them to initiate an understanding of their interests and passions, to encourage their inherent curiosity and creative thinking abilities, and to give them the confidence to take their education in their own hands so they are prepared to see opportunities and make their choices to lead impactful lives.  Our modules are high energy, activity-based lessons that ensure the kids internalize what is being said while creating fun and memorable moments.

This blog is devoted to widening our perspective of what an excellent education stands for. It will be a collection of personal experiences, notes on students’ achievements, reviews of articles and books by influencers in the education space and our thoughts on how we can facilitate an education that allows every child to “unlock” their potential.

*Teach for India is a nationwide movement of outstanding college graduates and professionals working towards eliminating educational inequity in India.