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Lavanya Bahuguna


Pooja Jagwani Talks About Founding Jaipur’s First Progressive Education Center For Kids

  • JWB Post
  •  March 26, 2016


My friends often ask me who’s my favorite teacher, and I always smile saying, all of them! I guess, I have finally found my favorite. Interestingly, this lady managed to teach me many beautiful lessons in a course of just one hour, that too, without picking up an NCERT book! Meet Pooja Jagwani, Jaipur’s prodigal Founder of ‘Under the Bamboo Tree’.

When Pooja was in Hyderabad, she became a part of a Progressive School, different from our mainstream schools and institutes, where education is not restricted to only books and sports. Unlike the Traditional schools, Progressive schools focus on developing a child’s experience, imagination, creativity, and other social skills with the help of various other practical modes of learning.

As Pooja puts it, “We emphasis on problem-solving and critical thinking. Education is not restricted to books and kids are not judged by their grades. Instead, they are encouraged to pick up unique combinations of subjects they are fond of and wish to explore. It can be English with carpentry, mathematics with music, or science with clay modeling! Each child has his/her own version of the book, where no two kids are similar. If A is Apple for one child, it will be Amsterdam for the other. Exams are not ‘fever’ here, and unquestionably, grades are not allowed to interfere with their personality development.”

Luckily for Jaipur, Pooja has shifted back to her city and begun a similar institute for kids aged 4 to 16. She calls it an after-school space where she attends to one child at a time to help him/her enhance the creative and imaginative side. Let’s learn more about it from Pooja herself!

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition – Jacques Barzun 

“Though we’re progressing, this is one area where we still need a massive development. I am talking about the way we think, parents think. Teachers are considered someone who will help your child finish a textbook course and get him 100/100. Centuries back, the word ‘teacher’ had some other meaning altogether. It was to teach a child the correct life philosophies while shaping him into a superior human being.

Today’s classrooms have one teacher handling 60 children, sometimes even more! I wonder how they can focus on each one of them in that one hour! How do they make sure that each child is nourished, and learns beyond the sums, time-tables, kinetic theory, osmosis and pollination?

Here’s where I, through progressive schooling, try to fill in the gap. Fortunately, there are parents in Jaipur who understand the cause and want to support me get rid of this void. Currently, I have about 18 children learning with me.”

The man or woman who can make hard things easy is the educator – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Not every child is born educationally-perfect. Many of them face difficulties learning and writing alphabets. These little ones don’t always understand the writing patterns, and sadly, parents and teachers don’t accept the reality. Dear parents, it’s alright if your kid is slow in learning; please don’t smother him under your expectations.

For such kids, I have handbooks where I coach them right-hand movements. I give them time to discover and learn. And for Hindi alphabets too, I have books with pictures so that they imprint the letters in their minds forever.”

Children are like wet cement; whatever falls on them makes an impression – Haim Ginott

“I would say, the earlier, the better it is to realize if your child has a problem learning things. It can be the handwriting issue, dyslexia, memory concern, etc.  ‘Under the Bamboo Tree’ is not a school or tuition. It provides your child with extracurricular courses where for two months, the child figures out his shortcomings and works on it in the most fun manner. It’s not boring!

Pooja teaches dyslexic kids the correct writing style using semolina.

I ask parents to attend the first few classes along with the child so that he/she doesn’t feel left alone in a new place. Once they gel up with me and the ambiance, parents stop coming. What’s more? I give a booklet full of short-stories to every parent which they can read to their kid(s). The book has stories about bullying, moral lessons and social messages, listening to which the kid naturally imbibes the qualities. I strictly tell parents never to replace the story’s character’s name with their child’s. Otherwise, you are offending them unconsciously. In the process, parents develop a stronger bond with their little ones.”

Teaching kids to count is fine but teaching them what counts is best – Bob Talbert

“My daughter chose to learn music while she was in Hyderabad’s Progressive school along with other mainstream subjects. She is 7, and knows how to read and write ‘music.’ Let her play a melody on flute for you that she created some time back.

I have few older children who come to me to enhance their writing skills. No, I don’t dictate them a paragraph to see if their spellings are correct. I don’t even ask them to write on a given topic. I present them blank notebooks and a pencil and colors. Then, I read out a story’s excerpt listening to which they have to draw what comes to their minds. In this way, I see what color they use when I say ‘Fall’s mustard colored leaves were spread on the ground.’ Sometimes, these 13-year-olds don’t understand the color difference. This is where my task begins.

Afterward, I encourage them to write their own versions of some famous stories, like the remarkable Malgudi Days or Ruskin Bond’s series!”

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires – William A. Ward 

“My classes also include carpentry, painting, knitting, stitching, and even doing other fun activities like learning cat’s cradle. Having an active mind is one of the foremost qualities I focus on.

Currently, the batch consisting of smallest kids is learning how to make dolls. They do all the stitching and embroidery work. I let them choose whichever color of fabric they want to utilize while creating their dolls. 

Don’t worry; the needles aren’t pointed and are safe for kids to use.”


I believe, it needs an ample amount of compassion and patience to deal with children. And also courage, to be with them while they learn to fix their shortcomings. Henry Brooks Adams once said, “Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops.” I assure you, Pooja’s teaching influence is going to be precisely that.



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