Tuesday 8 September 2015

Rotary Club of Madras confers 'Educator Extraordinaire' award on Mr V Arun of Marudam School

Rotary Club of Madras confers 'Educator Extraordinaire' award on Mr V Arun of Marudam School on Tuesday 8th September, 2015. Mr. V Arun has dedicated his life to teaching values of life to children and at the same time is dedicated to conserving nature. The Rotary Club of Madras identified his relentless efforts in Working towards environmental conservation and influencing and creating awareness among his fellow beings. From Turtle conservation and afforestation, Mr. V Arun has dedicated his life for the better conservation and maintenance.

About Mr. V Arun

Mr. V Arun qualified as an engineer in 1989 and worked in the Engineering field for seven years in Bombay. There, through various experiences gained from forest walks and through interactions with members of the Bombay Natural History Society, he realized that nature conservation was his true calling. Arun then switched to teaching Environment Education and worked as a teacher in the Krishnamurti Foundation School, Chennai for 12 years from 1997 to 2009.

V Arun has been with the Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) from 1997 and have been coordinator of the group since 2002. Besides conserving and protecting the eggs of Olive ridley turtles nesting on our beach and safely releasing new born hatchlings, he works on creating awareness about environmental issues through discussions with groups of people on turtle walks every weekend during turtle nesting season. He also conducts talks in schools and colleges for students and teachers.

Mr. V Arun moved to Thiruvannamalai in 2009 with my wife Poornima and 2 children - a 15 year old son and a 7 year old daughter. Poornima is a post graduate and has been a teacher for 19 years. Through Project -The Forest Way, He is currently involved in afforestation of the Arunachala Hill and run the environmental education activities of the project.

Along with some friends Arun started a small alternate school in Thiruvannamalai in 2009 called Marudam farm school which teaches farming, gardening, carpentry, pottery, tailoring, cooking along with academics. The school has been covered in various magazines and journals and receives regular visitors. Mr. V Arun is the correspondent of the school and Poornima is the headmistress. The school caters to children from all economic back grounds and is run by The Forest Way trust.

He lives in a thatched house on an organic farm powered by solar power only and are attempting to live with the smallest possible ecological foot print. He also is a key resource person for Environmentally inclined organisations like Nizhal and often conducts Tree Walks in parks, in Chennai. He also regularly take groups of children on green birding trips and nature education trip.Completely dedicated to mother nature, V. Arun Spends his time working on Afforestation, Turtle Conservation, Enviornmental educational campaigns among school children and the like.

He is also the treasurer of Annamalai reforestation society since 2012 and am responsible for their activities on the hill.He is currently involved in collating the biodiversity of the region.

About Marudam Farm School

The Marudam Farm School was started by Arun, Poornima, Govinda and Leela in the village of Kananthampoondi, a few Kilometers from Tiruvannamalai town, in 2009. It is an activity based school with quite an unconventional approach to the process of learning.

Both Arun and Poornima are experienced teachers, with Arun having been exposed to alternate education in the Krishnamurti Foundation School (KFI) in Chennai for over twelve years and Poornima taught in Olcott memorial school run by the Theosophical society for 13 years. All of them passionately believed that a school should be a happy place for children where learning would happen in a safe, secure and joyful atmosphere without the burden of memorising unnecessary information, competing for marks, being terrified of exams and studying without perspective or true understanding.

Arun and Poornima shifted to Tiruvannamalai in 2009. He and his friends started the Forest Way Trust to formalize their ongoing process of greening the Arunachala Hill. This work was started by Govinda and Leela in 2004 itself. Govinda, from England is a passionate conservationist and is a gifted gardener. Leela had worked as a special needs teacher in Israel before moving to India. Bothe moved to India in their spiritual quest. Being passionate about education and having seen the need for an alternate school in Thiruvannamalai the team decided to start a small school which from the start found immense support from lots of people.

The team decided right at the inception that the school would be an inclusive place where children from very different backgrounds would be taken in and would learn to relate to, and get along with one another however different the background of each child was, just as it is in real life. As a result, shepherd families, stone cutters, and farm workers from the village, office goers living in the town and foreigners living in Tiruvannamalai for spiritual fulfilment, and many more from varied walks of life, all send their children to Marudam School. Classes are therefore bi-lingual.

Firmly believing that keeping curiosity alive is necessary to keep learning alive, wide exposure is made available to every child in the form of art, music, yoga, gymnastics, different games and body movements, crafts of different kinds like sculpting, pottery, weaving, embroidery, and many more. The teachers take the children on weekly nature walks on the Arunachala Hill. Looking for birds, insects, flowers and animals and any changes like trees shedding leaves, or flowering or fruiting etc, helps build up powers of observation as well as develops appreciation for, and a strong bond with nature.

Experiential or project based learning is the basic method followed so as to ensure comprehensive understanding of concepts rather than the cramming of facts. Projects on water and the ‘eri’ system, a study of small enterprises around the temple, pests in a farm, recycling waste, and many such, are taken up round the year for each group.The number of students is deliberately kept low, and a high teacher – student ratio is maintained so as to provide personal attention to every child according to his or her needs. Work-stations for each subject allow individual children to choose how much of each subject they want to include in their schedule and up to what level they want to pursue it.

Great importance is given to identifying the skills, interests and passions of each child so as to give ample scope to pursue these interests. Children are encouraged to express themselves in various ways like through staging plays, puppetry and so on where they decide the theme and even prepare and edit the script. This encourages even shy children to overcome inhibitions.Children participate in the process of growing food organically in the farm space as well as in the cooking and baking processes. A nutritious lunch as well as morning and evening snacks are provided in the school every day.

The Marudam team today consists of many youngsters who feel a need to return to the land, to basic ways of sustainable living and feel passionate about teaching and working with their own hands. The team is committed to providing the best possible nurturing and supporting atmosphere for the children in the school. Being dependant on donations, the team has now set up acorpus so as to ensure long term continuity in providing quality education for its students in the years to come. We Will appreciate if you honour the whole team rather than single me out. Because it is the working together of the team which makes this place work.


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