Pinky Dalal - Changing What We Teach To Our Kids with JBCN Education

Last updated 18 Jun 2018 . 1 min read

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Tell Us A Bit About Yourself

I have always been a nurturer by nature and that philosophy shines through in each aspect of my life. As a mother and an educator, I strongly believe in the uniqueness of each child and the importance of allowing them to explore every aspect of their personality. There is an endless reserve of talent and genius waiting, we just need the right tools to unearth them.

From an early age, I was a keen learner and enjoyed the process of gaining knowledge. Initially, I took up Law as a profession but somewhere deep down I always wanted to give back to society.  When I became a mother, I realized through that journey that I enjoyed teaching and I wanted to explore that aspect. I became passionate about blending real-life experiences, storytelling and age-appropriate learning targets into a curriculum that children could enjoy in a safe and fun environment. The journey which began with teaching my son Kunal has now moved on to learning and sharing ideas with this new generation as Kunal joins me in my work and takes it to new heights.

The beauty of gaining knowledge and evolving as a human being in the many roles of a daughter, sister, wife, and mother give me the utmost contentment. All  I want to say is that I am a happy person doing what I love to do the most that is … learning and expanding my life state and contributing to the society in my own small way.

Why did you choose the education sector as an entrepreneur?

My journey in education started over 35 years ago, with the birth of my son, Kunal. That is when I started experimenting with different ways of making him learn new things. Spending time with Kunal, making him understand concepts rather than memorize them gave me immense joy and satisfaction. As he grew older I realized that I was the happiest when teaching him and it came to me naturally. The realization motivated me to start a school from a small room in my building. At that time I had no idea that my life’s work would be to spread education. I only knew that I was doing something I loved and sharing my joy of learning with the little ones. I followed the simple principle that while knowledge and information are crucial, it is the intangibles such as thinking, questioning and a desire to explore that ensure we are constantly evolving.

As the Children’s Nook and JBCN brand grew, we received support from our investors and advisory panel, comprised of individuals who subscribed to my vision of education. Among our investors are Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, India’s stock market whiz and founder of RARE Enterprise, Mr. Rana Kapoor, a financial guru and founder of Yes Bank and Mr. Vimal Shah, a real estate developer. The JBCN advisory panel has Mrs. Tina Ambani, an entrepreneur in her own right and Mr. Ashok Kurien, a social entrepreneur as well as a marketing and branding guru.  All of them resonated with my philosophy and encouraged me to expand. And well, here I am.

Bringing an informal Pre-school strategy back in 1984 – Children’s Nook – must have been a daunting task. How did you envision that? What were the difficulties you faced back then?  

Children’s Nook is my first baby and I have always held it close to my heart as a mother would.

I strongly believe that the educational philosophy of a preschool should be absolutely learner-centric keeping in mind the development of a child. Whether it is creativity, music, pre-math or language skills, social, interpersonal or physical development, the aim should be to make the process of learning easy, relaxed and, more importantly, a continuous one. The focus isn’t just about achieving academic milestones but on nurturing a child to become confident of who s\he is. And this is what I wanted to gift each child. One significantly important aspect of the curriculum is that we enable our children to apply the knowledge garnered, making them more adaptable, confident and comfortable with themselves and their environment.

(Also read - 29 Riddles and Brain Teasers for Your Kid (With Answers))

The learning process should be exciting and fun-filled so that children develop a natural instinct and a love of learning. My preschool philosophy ‘Learning is Easy… when learning is fun’ ensures that we nurture the inborn curiosity of every child. This was a new philosophy in the eighties, very different from the ongoing preschool scenario.  So, it took awhile for the parents to accept the change in curriculum and teaching methods, but once they witnessed the positive and happy change, they understood my views. There has been no looking back since then and with faith and support of the parent community Children’s Nook has been able to reach out and nurture thousands of happy learners for more than three decades now.

What was the thought behind establishing JBCN? How is it different from other educational institutes?

The thought behind establishing JBCN was very simple and logical. When my pre-schoolers graduated, I wanted to ensure that they continue to get the same stimulating environment through-out their high school years too, so we decided to start our own high schools.

Before I talk about JBCN Schools, I want to state that I have deep respect for all educational institutes as they are a mark of human growth, learning, and humanism. Every institution aims to provide quality education and an enriching environment to create future leaders. 

JBCN learners are characterized by their ability to empathize, look beyond the obvious, question, debate and seek answers, make decisions and have the conviction to stand by them and be a citizen of the world through unconditional acceptance. “One People... One World”, is a motto that defines their endeavours towards imbibing acceptance. To help them understand these values in its practical senses, we have implemented our outreach programmes that come alive through the JBCN Heals, Cares, and Aware banner, adopting principles of the UN global sustainability project in daily practice.

Today I can proudly say that powered by a dynamic team, led by my son Kunal Dalal and daughter-in-law Hemali, and driven by a strong vision while incorporating the latest educational practices globally, JBCN Education has emerged as one of the most progressive International Schools in Mumbai.

What importance do international educational strategies hold for you?

Today, educators around the world are working towards Global Education and I believe that integration of our traditional teaching methodologies with international ideas and strategies helps us to empower our learners and faculty. It gives them exposure to varied cultures, thought processes and ideas. This leads to expanding their horizons, skills and raising learners with problem-solving abilities.  As global economies reshape, it is critical that we shape individuals who can interoperate culturally and promote mutually beneficial values.

Adopting the best international practices ensure that our learners are equipped to lead in any sector, anywhere in the world. It also enables us to enhance internationalism through our educational programmes.

As a leader early on in the education sector, what are your learnings, the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Bringing about any change is always met with a little bit of initial resistance from the people because it’s a move away from convention. For instance, we were the first pre-school to provide an air-conditioned environment to the children. I had to meet parents and explain that it was not a luxury being offered but a necessity to facilitate effective learning. Parents understood that what we were trying to do was to give children a calm, pollution and noise free environment. It helped our learners to be more alert, fresh and less distracted. At the same time, we made sure that children got enough outdoor activities with free play time and structured field trips. The whole concept of experiential and hands-on learning was also well accepted by the parents, once they understood the importance and rationale behind the changes.

Tell us about your Mind Body and Soul program that is a part of your school’s curriculum.

“Education is not learning of mind but the training of the mind to think”.

“If it hasn’t been in the Hand…and the Body…it can’t be in the Brain”.

“In the eyes of the child, you will see the World as it should be”.

These three quotes by a learned philosopher say it all for me. For children to grow up holistically it is essential to nurture their Mind (training the mind to think, question not just learn), Body (experiential, sensory learning, also absorbing fitness as a way of life), last but not the least, Soul (this is the mirror of our lives, reflecting the beauty of environment and nurtured through art, music, culture, and compassion).

Our unique “Mind Body Soul Program” is inspired by a vision of raising children who are problem solvers, believers, change makers who believe in the goodness of the world, are confident decision makers and ready to move ahead as compassionate global citizens.

Our concept of EduCreative experiences takes shape through the Mind Body Soul program which focuses on the all-round development of our learners through academic excellence, dynamic and challenging physical activities, enriching creative experiences and value education. 

Has the education system advanced from the first time you started out in the sector?

If I may say, I would say it has changed by leaps and bounds for the better. The focus has changed from an examination/marks centric learning system to a very application based curriculum right from the formative years. The new age parents are more hands-on because they have been abroad and are shaped by their own global experiences… I am happy to share that today’s learners have a variety of techniques available to approach various concepts.  As a result, you get to hear of more success stories and entrepreneurs now as the generation is not afraid to explore and venture into unknown terrains. It’s a fast-changing world out there and our education system is all geared-up to equip our learners for the same. With advances in technology, changes in lifestyle and needs and wants of people, the jobs that exist today may or may not exist when our learners graduate. So, it becomes even more important that as educators we concentrate on developing skills, thinking and a love for learning.

Your thoughts on the proverb, ‘If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate the whole nation.”

I believe in educating both girls and boys equally, but I also feel that educating girls and women is especially effective because when we educate them, the benefits are felt throughout the whole community. As we all know, it’s a magic multiplier in the development equation. Taking care and educating our girls’ benefits not only the present generation but also future generations.

The positive relationship between female literacy and overall socio-economic development has been well established. An educated woman is better able to educate and guide her own children, who in turn, will be more likely to receive school education themselves and contribute to the society in some way. It is an absolute necessity to invest in women education so that we can raise a generation of educated, compassionate and enterprising individuals.

Nirupama Kondayya
Nirupama feels that life is all about #TakingCharge, one step at a time, everyday. She truly believes that women have the potential to achieve their dreams, once they put their heart into it. She also believes that being grateful for little things has big impacts in life.

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