I was fortunate to be able to visit another school this week, Ullens School in nearby Patan. This private school has about 750 students in elementary and secondary school. Ullens was started by the current principal, Medin Lamichhane, who graduated from Bank Street College of Education in New York City, where a hands-on, child-centered, integrated and interactive approach to teaching and learning is emphasized. Coincidentally, I was trained by Bank Street staff developers during my first three years of teaching at a Bank Street model school in New Haven, Connecticut. The training I gained there laid the foundation for my teaching career.
The campus reminded me of the private school I taught at in Bolivia. There were several buildings surrounded by beautiful grounds. The school has its own fleet of buses (not uncommon here) and draws students from surrounding cities.
I was able to visit a seventh grade classroom and share information about my school. Clearly, we had much more in common than my school and the Little Blossoms School where I volunteered. The students at Ullens are reading some of the same books my students read. They are still responsible for taking certain Nepali exams, but the emphasis is clearly on learning and not test prep. Needless to say, physical punishments are not used here. The seventh graders said they had about one-two hours of homework a night which is similar to U.S. schools.
I wondered about the ninth and tenth grade schedule since I know it is so intense at Little Blossoms and other schools due to the tenth grade exit exams. Ullens high school students do not spend extra hours at school, nor do they attend school on Sundays. The ninth and tenth graders do have extra days of school during some vacations, but that does not seem nearly as much as what is required at other schools.
It was great to see a Bank Street model school here in Nepal. I felt like I had come full circle.