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February 13, 2020 Thursday 01:24:18 PM IST

Self-Organised, Self Directed

Best Practices

Agile is a set of values and principles or a collection of beliefs that teams can use for making decisions about how work is to be done in any set up.  Most people would associate agile or scrum to concepts to be used in the corporate world.  But here in Kochi, Bachan Anand, is taking his experience as an agile coach to his learning community for kids and adults, called Bhoomi Learning Community. Bachan spoke to us about his process and how the community is learning to function and adapt to agile practices.


Bachan’s interpretation of Scrum a framework of agile is that, it’s about acknowledging the part of self organization when working together in a team or organization. “You do this in a group, plan in a way that you are focusing on yourself, instead of trying to tell people what they should be doing. It’s about having a common goal.” According to him, self organization means that one person is not in charge. “So when we convert that into a school, we are creating a learning environment where no one has to be in charge, but still has to be functional. This means that different people have to be in charge, depending on the situation. It’s mostly situational leadership.”

Scrum in simpler words is a way individuals/teams/corporate in any environment comes together, look at their main vision and then plan what can be done for a short period of time. And then they go about doing it. When they come across challenges and the commitment of what can be done to cross the challenge, is on the team and not the management. That’s a big difference.

Bhoomi has daily and weekly plans, a monthly vision and a yearly vision as well, around which the community functions. The children are facilitated in whichever projects they choose for themselves. They have individual as well as group projects. The children are not given books to read up and learn the theories; they are rather provided with hands on experience. This is where the agile approach is essential.

Self-Directed Learning

“Before we started the school, it was decided that this will be a self directed learning space. Instead of one person teaching everyone, I believe that where there is less teaching, more learning is involved.” recollects Bachan. In a self learning environment, anyone is free to do whatever they want as long as community agreements are not compromised. So Bachan, along with Rahmi Hidayat, Cristelle Hart Singh and Shaily Agarwal, came up with a basic framework which was driven by the scrum . Bachan said that, “If you don’t tell anyone how to do things, the only way one learns is, by doing. If you don’t know enough, you read up about it and learn. So that’s the process.”

So how does the self learning aspect play out in the day to day activities? The facilitators implement that by using a process called ‘empiricism’. It can be simply explained as ‘plan, do, review and reflect’. The morning begins with a ‘morning circle’. The key purpose is connecting with and greeting each other with some singing and dancing. But mainly this is where the community plans for the rest of the day.  The next task is to go about doing whatever has been planned for the day. Everyone gathers together again at 2.30pm, to discuss about the day and reflect on what they did. This is where the review happens, each child is encouraged to reflect on how they did and plan for improvement for the next day. This daily planning eventually helps them to complete their weekly goals, then monthly goals and keeps the cycle moving till they achieve their yearly visions. This is a Time Boxed approach. Taking up a task and trying to finish it in a week or two and see whether they fail or succeed.


Another aspect of agile, the KANBAN board gives the whole process they follow a visual form. All around Bhoomi you see boards that help visualize all that is happening in the learning community. Projects that are to be started are categorized under one column, the ones in progress in another and the ones that have been finished in the last. There are three different boards for the weekly, monthly and yearly planning. To get a visual idea of what their daily tasks are, the kids maintain personal notes for themselves.  The children are self directed; they get to analyze their own work at the end of each day and figure out ways to progress. You can also see a ‘Community mastery board’ that layouts the community agreement and helps build the community culture.

Activity circles are the heart of any self directed learning space. So the focus of the facilitators is to make sure that the resources are readily available for the children. The children at Bhoomi get a chance everyday to try   their hands at pottery, art and craft, learning musical instruments, cooking and even carpentry. The community is taking up group projects where the children will learn about the aspects of theater and natural building construction for the upcoming days.

Supriya Deepak

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