MindBox – Creating minds filled with context
Chennai: “We hardly remember anything we studied because it is taught to us as content and not as what is the context. That learning will only happen when we apply it,” says ARK Infosolutions / MindBox India, chief enjoyment officer Rishi Khemka.
MindBox India is a ‘creative’ education company that helps students expand their life skills along with their school education. It offers research-based designer courses based on a child’s interest, hobbies and passion that thrive on activities, problem-solving, group programs and technical concepts.
To know more, News Today had an interview with Rishi Khemka where he shared a lot of information. Rishi began his career at Aditya Infotech, a family-owned venture. He started a software division specialising in animation, gaming, broadcast, VFX and media domains.
He later established ARK Infosolutions in 2012 and started MindBox two years later.
He started initiatives like India’s first design championship for students, which encourages them to think out of the box and showcase their talent.
Excerpts from the interview:
What do you do?
MindBox is an initiative that we started three years ago. It is focused on three aspects, on how we could make children thinkers rather than doers. Creative thinking, design thinking and using technology as a tool. When I was working with my coach, in 2014, he asked me a question – what is my biggest challenge. I told him that I don’t feel big enough to make an impact in here. He usually says that people who have achieved great heights are not cut from a different cloth, rather they are just like you and me. They do not have any extra powers, he said.
There was also a fact that a whole new area of technology that was going to come. Kids may now be in school, but when they are out in the real world it would be different from what they studied. These technologies are going to move a lot faster, the adoption and disruption is to happen at a faster rate.
This leaves students nowhere connected. This was the case for most of us by the time we passed out of school. We hardly remember anything because it is taught to us as content and not as what is the context. That learning will only happen when we apply.
How can we use this?
These are needed for kids of tomorrow where they can apply in context and use in the curriculum they are learning, and also learn a piece of technology that helps in the future with a few certain life skills. Our curriculum starts with project-based learning. Students start with a project through which they learn.
It could either be a hardware or software. Through this they understand concepts of Maths, Physics, etc., that they are learning in the grade they are studying. We picked up various subjects and we make sure it connects to the curriculum we have. The next part is design-based learning. Once the child understands the technology, we give her/him opportunities to create on their own, rather than a pre-defined concept.
How could this be managed with what the students are studying?
A typical education model has not changed a lot for years. A concept like trigonometry, we never knew why we learnt it. We just did it as it was part of our syllabus. But, there could be a possibility for a child who needs it. For example, take game designing. Trigonometry is important for the field; so does art, design and creativity. There are many other things in it too. A game design is done by 3-4 and they do it together. So life skills like leadership, team work, goal and all these will work in a subtle manner.
In any form of learning, the fundamental remains the same, it is just the medium that changes as a generation evolves. We deliver this through our own teachers inside the school. Teaching concepts along with curriculum is what we do and it is important. In curriculum, we also have ‘flags’ while teaching, by which the teacher and students can understand what the subject concept is. It is a tech class and sits in the curriculum in the computer period. It is a year-long curriculum.
On the market in south India.
Interestingly, south India is most successful for us. I find people and schools are more progressive in terms of adopting new tech. Tamilnadu is a big success. At present, we reach about 20,000 students in 30-plus schools across the country and out of which 11-12 schools are in TN. SBOA, SRM are a few worth mentioning. We are present in seven more cities in the State like Vellore, Chidambaram, Cuddalore, Pollachi, etc. We have plans to start in Trichy and Madurai next year. We are starting in Hyderabad soon.
Where are you concentrating more on? Urban or rural?
We started with urban cities like Delhi, NCR, etc. Then Mumbai, Chennai and we are venturing into Bengaluru and Hyderabad. We did Tamilnadu as a test State and it was a huge success. We are in talks with a school in Udumalapettai, which is like a farming area. But they wanted their students to have more exposure. Focus started with urban and now we are looking at other options. We will be in more than a dozen cities in Tamilnadu itself. We are also looking at UP and Jammu. We are focused on where we are present and are growing. Ours is not like a product that we can sell and leave. It is year-long procedure and we will be with the students all through the year.
On government move towards digitisation.
It is going to help us. Niti Aayog came up with Atal Tinkering Labs and we have applied it to become a vendor and may soon be part of it. The government is also promoting and wants children to be exposed and creative. Because, in industry they see new technologies coming in, so they need more advanced students. We will see a lot more of such things based on skill. Everything is growing and this will help. We are trying to give the exposure that is needed and nowadays kids are much smarter and have a lot of clarity.
On future plans?
Our aim is to touch about a million students’ lives in the next five years. Next year, we will probably double what is now.