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Hemant Somasekharan

Hemant Somasekharan

Paro, BT

Ambassador

Teacher-Researcher at a school nestled in the Himalayas Loves self-directed online learning and reading non-fiction with the exception of Lee Child's fiction. Learning about life through my newly arrived teacher, our wonderful baby Kalyani Lynch-Hemant. Married to the extraordinary Joella Hannah Lynch.

About me

Hi there - my name is Hemant and I'm a teacher-researcher at a start-up school in Bhutan, nestled in the Himalayas. I am passionate about learning. Through teaching, I learn. I also learn from my everyday experiences, be it good or bad. I've noticed that if I reflect carefully, I can connect the dots and learn from any experience that I may have.

I am also passionate about helping my students find their passion in life. Being an avid online learner myself, I introduced my students to an online course titled the science of everyday thinking, offered by the University of Queensland, Australia. These students were 12-14 years old and took three months to complete this course but it was a truly rewarding experience for all involved. Now, that they have acquired the skills and processes for navigating a graduate level course in the online terrain, they are free to choose subjects they are passionate about and direct their own learning.

Our school has been successfully implementing an innovative curriculum that looks at the (w)holistic development of a learner by focusing on five areas of their development - Emotional, Social, Spiritual, Physical and Cerebral.

https://hundred.org/en/innovations/5-areas-of-development

I'm here celebrating the innovations in education happening around the world, of which we all are a part of, and spreading the cheer!

Why do you want to be a part of the HundrED Community?

Gandhi said - 'be the change you want to see in the world' 

After coming across HundrED, out of pure chance, I realised that HundrED is doing what I hoped to be doing. So rather than reinventing the wheel, I thought I will add momentum to that wheel in whatever way I can.

How can education support students to flourish?

Education can help students thrive and flourish by helping them identify their passions. This is easier said than done but if we can begin making inroads into this in small ways we can then springboard of the momentum created. 

The world we find ourselves in today is a spectre of the world that existed four decades ago. Things have changed at blazing speeds and what is more intriguing is that the rate of change seems to be accelerating. That seems to be the new constant. There are good odds that the jobs that students in schools are going to find themselves in do not exist yet. Therefore, what are we teaching them in schools? 

I don't see the need for a constant focus on academic achievement when there are other aspects to a human being. Look at what differentiates an AI program or machine from us. The current education system fails to factor in aspects of social, emotional, spiritual and physical developments, in addition to the cerebral area of development.

In my opinion, we need to help students understand their strengths and weaknesses and in the process help them identify what they are passionate about. This will help them be the best they can be and also chart the course of their life, community, country and the world by giving the best they have to offer and offer it selflessly.


What role does innovation play in education change?

Innovation is at the heart of everything new, isn't it? I would like to take the example of something we use in our daily life to try and explain this. Imagine you were a traveller 100 years ago. What would you be carrying your clothes and other valuable things in? It is easy to imagine the picture of a lightweight suitcase on wheels as the default option. But these suitcases didn't exist then. You would probably be lugging around a 'trunk' -  a bulky iron-made box. It wasn't until the 1970's that the suitcase got it's wheels when an innovator named Bernard Sadow noticed an airport employee pushing a cart of luggage on wheels and decided to innovate on his personal luggage. Thus was born the concept of a wheeled suitcase. It took many more decades before advances in technology helped us come up with the lightweight wheeled suitcases we have today. More importantly, do you think this is going to be the future of suitcases for the next few decades? I think not! Prototypes are already in place for Bluetooth enabled motor suitcases where you don't have to do the lugging but it will follow you. The safety aspects involved in these are a matter of a different debate. The point being, innovation is happening in every sector conceivable. Therefore, coming to the original question of the role innovation plays in education - it is high time and we need to innovate. It's not that innovation in education is not happening but that it is happening in isolated corners of the world and often goes unrecognised. Unlike the suitcase, education is often tailor-made to suit a community or country's context and often wrongly perceived as non-extrapolatable. This is the mindset shift that we need to engage with, in my opinion. I strongly believe that in this era we find ourselves in, educators across the globe grapple with similar challenges. The context in which it is happening may be different but that does not mean that we cannot adopt an educational innovation happening in one part of the world to suit the context of the other part of the world. We, as educators, need to put in the effort to contextualise the innovation but we need not reinvent the wheel. This is where HundrEd comes to the forefront - bringing together global innovations and giving each of us the opportunity to try and see what works for us and what doesn't. And that is brilliant stuff!

Three HundrED innovations you love. (and Why?)

1) Five areas of development 


I love this for the simple reason that I've seen it in practice and knows how well it works.


2) Student Agents


I love this innovation because it boosts students confidence by using the reverse mentoring process whereby they teach their teachers, peers and other school members about technology. This also serves the purpose of mapping out the school's technological needs. Moreover, students can learn and adapt to technology really fast, therefore this innovation makes sense to me,


3) Roots of Empathy

We've just had a baby and in all likelihood, she will be coming with us to some of the classes we teach. I like the concept behind this innovation because as the innovation states, I can see how babies respond to love and care. I feel that, if adopted to one's context, this innovation can indeed succeed in cultivation qualities of love and compassion in our learners.

Three innovations you would love for HundrED to know about. (and Why?)

1) http://www.inasp.info/en/about/

For the brilliant reason that they make relevant research available to countries and communities that don't have access to them.