-Paromita Sengupta (Bengaluru)
Edupreneur Mohit Patel is founder-director of the Cambridge (UK)-affiliated The Northstar School, Rajkot (TNS, estb. 2016) — promoted by the family-run Talaviya Trust which also manages RK University. Patel believes TNS is redefining education through innovative pedagogies centred on experiential learning, self-discovery, and strong connect with the environment.
Since the school admitted its first batch of 25 students seven years ago, enrolment has grown to the maximum capacity of 500. With a campus sprawled across 15 green acres, Northstar claims its per student space allocation is “one of the largest in India”.
Newspeg. Early this year Patel, who also has business interests in the hospitality industry (Raga Svara Wellness Centre, Rajkot), rolled out a plan to construct an additional academic building with a built-up area of 80,000 sq. ft.
History. An education, technology and industrial systems graduate of the globally top-ranked Harvard (USA) and Cambridge (UK) universities who returned to India in late 2013, Patel promoted TNS after deeply researching curriculum design on the main campus of RK University (estb. 2005), the first privately promoted professional education university in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat which has an aggregate enrolment of 6,000 students. Subsequently, after studying best schools in India, US, Singapore, and Denmark, and consulting with architects and designers from Columbia, Harvard, Bauhaus-Universität (Germany) universities, and CEPT University (India), he designed the state-of-the-art campus of TNS.
“TNS was started as a course project at Harvard University, where I was exploring K-12 education from three perspectives: curriculum, experience and space design. Simultaneously, I researched the institutional history and organisational culture of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From these studies I became aware that conceptualising, designing and constructing a K-12 school in India which is a safe haven of true expression for children, educators and parents, was necessary and possible. After nearly three years of foundational work, TNS admitted its first batch in 2016,” says Patel, who also teaches philosophy and literature at this avant garde day school.
Direct talk. “Unlike the competitive school education landscape that promotes rote learning, TNS is driven by the philosophy that learning should be enjoyable, meaningful and relevant to students. It was a challenge convincing parents in a tier II city to embrace a new school with a contemporary philosophy and learning approach. Here students are encouraged to find their own learning path through a unique foundational program christened the Northstar Exploratory Learning Approach. It empowers them to choose their preferred subjects and skills to promote a sense of ownership and passion for learning. The program not only enhances academic engagement, it also nurtures critical thinking and decision-making skills. The school’s curriculum, assessment structure, and architecture have been carefully designed to implement this philosophy. Moreover, our teacher to student ratio is 1:7 resulting in highly personalised learning,” says Patel.
Future plans. Looking ahead, Patel is hopeful of making TNS’ path-breaking learning programs accessible to educators and students nationwide. “In TNS, we are constantly exploring new ways of designing learning experiences. While growing student numbers and increasing branches are legitimate parameters of growth, in TNS the growth is biophilic. Our curriculum teams are simultaneously designing professional development workshops for educators and parents so that we continue to share our pedagogies with one and all,” says Patel.
Wind beneath your wings!