A board games club, a media room and sessions on weaving—Quest wants to change how kids approach education.
In the last month, parents and children have been stopping by a two-storied house in Palavakkam every Sunday, to ‘explore’ things as varied as weaving, carpentry and aero-modelling. At the new The Learning Community at Quest, there is no compulsion to sit down and join a class; the whole point is to expose kids to as many activities as possible and let them choose what they want to sign up for. “Normally any physical space gets boxed in, delineated for a specific activity. But we wanted to create something that would have the qualities of a virtual space, a place where anything can go on,” begins Srikanth Chandrasekaran, the founder. So while banana streusel muffins are being pulled out of the oven in the kitchen, a storytelling session is on in another room, while in a third, children learn to make their own board games.
Learn as you like
Going forward, Chandrasekaran hopes the 6,500 sq ft centre—minimal with cushions and bean bags—will become a facilitating space for creative learning of all kind. “We contact facilitators who are passionate about a skill or an art, and get them to come over and engage with children,” explains the 50-year-old, who also heads the not-for-profit trust, Altius Foundation, which works in the field of education. Some of the more popular sessions include carpentry with Deepak Chengappa of Shakti Ganapati furniture, aero-modelling with Vasudev, a young enthusiast, weaving with Naresh Ramasubramaniam of Shuttles and Needles, and board games with Santhosh Subramanian of the Bambaram Toy Library. “Board games help in logical thinking. Soon we want to start a club where kids can try out both traditional and popular ones, and even try electronic construction kits that can lead to an exploration of robotics,” he says, adding, “Some classes, like carpentry, have become so popular that adults want to sign up, too.”
Music and audio-visual aids are also key cogs in the wheel here. Clapboard, their media room, houses a 135” screen, where they want to promote movies, online content and documentaries with a Saturday morning movie club. There is a music room with instruments, where musicians like Praveen from the Sean Roldan band will conduct sessions. “We are following the UNESCO curriculum of life skills. But we want to grow organically, adding more sessions like theatre with Crea Shakthi, pottery, 21st century skills like coding and more,” says Chandrasekaran, whose long term plan also includes making the space an enabling environment for home schooling.
For seven to 14-year-olds. Baking at Rs 750 per class. Details: 7358570749
—Surya Praphulla Kumar