Balaji Sampath

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2005

Citation

This profile was prepared when Balaji Sampath was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Balaji is revolutionizing the way science is taught in India by introducing “Science Dialogues” into middle and high schools. Balaji’s methods are helping children change their perception of science as a difficult subject only for the very intelligent—a belief which has implications for their success completing school and consequently, their careers. Founded on the concept of “learning by doing,” Balaji’s curriculum is focused on helping students internalize concepts, an alternative to the traditional technique of rote memorization without adequate comprehension. The curriculum is currently implemented in schools by a team of volunteer demonstrators, most of them high-school dropouts. It brings the material to life through dialogues and lessons drawn from daily life, using simple tools kits and specially designed reading material incorporating stories, illustrations and experiments, often in fun cartoon forms. By overhauling the framework of traditional teaching techniques, Balaji is attempting to form a whole new generation of thinkers who can apply well-internalized, progressive principles to all aspects of life and become catalysts in the advancement and development of the nation.
In order to change how science is taught, Balaji realized he needs to address the knowledge base and perceptions of teachers. He is therefore restructuring intervention and incentive programs for teachers to encourage them to teach and learn at the same time.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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