Artificial Intelligence comes to Sadhguru School
In this blog, we bring to you some free-flowing prose in the form of a sharing from Josephine, whose family roots are in Western Uganda. Baring in mind we are amid rolling hills and farmland with sparse electricity, she inspired our children with her lesser-known career during school assembly - Artificial Intelligence.
Meanwhile, scroll to the bottom for two elevating video links of performances from our two-weeks early closing assembly in March - the result of the sudden closure of schools due to the COVID-19 Pandemic: (1) Anandhi, a music therapist and former teacher of many years at Isha Home School leading Bob Marley's Don't Worry About a Thing, and (2) Amooti with a spoken word performance of his A Poem The Dark Child composed by him especially for Sadhguru School children.
'Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.' (Ibn Battuta)
Often I seek a ‘state’ of calm. That bursting-out-of-your-chest feeling of wonder, awe and gratitude. An act of stepping out of my world literally and figuratively, simultaneously embracing that sense of oneness and ‘disconnecting’.
The trip begins
I had decided over the International women’s day weekend that I needed inspiration, a change in scenery. Travel has always pushed me to see the forest for the trees. There is something magical about hitting the road and experiencing. A friend’s work trip to Fort Portal provided a perfect opportunity. The fresh upcountry air cleared my mind and energized my spirit. Little did i know at the time that our odyssey was just begining.
We arrived in Fort Portal at 11:30am and went about doing my colleague's work. Having a similar professional background meant that my presence was relevant. It felt refreshing to hear/speak familiar terms and contribute from an outsider’s point of view.
Two hours later, I am sitting with my other hilarious friend, as she narrates her weekend escapade to Queen Elisabeth national park. I met her in the corridors of knowledge at the University of Cambridge. A million laughs later, we are still going strong! She has been telling me about Sadhguru school where she has been working from early this year. Like many Ugandans, before her employment, I was unaware of this oasis of peace, enlightenment and sanity, a little bit off the beaten path.
Discovering Sadhguru School
Sadhguru School is built on Ndali Estate, 24 kilometres from Fort Portal town. It is a stone’s throw away from Ndali Lodge that is also on the same estate. The estate’s valley location affords a picturesque view of the surrounding mountain slopes and crater lakes. Mildly tamed flora obscures the school, serving as a subtle embellishment for a sight for the sore eyes, that is, the school grounds. As our driver and I marvelled at the view, my other colleague quickly wanted to introduce me to the school administration before her 3pm meeting.
True to her character, she made levity the exercise of meeting the school administrators. And within minutes we were exchanging jokes at my friend’s expense. The good-natured banter concluded with an invitation to speak to the children about Artificial Intelligence, an area of my work.
What better way to be inspired than to inspire future leaders
Maktub – my first thought! To look into faces that represent a very young version of yourself and explain the concept of designing and using algorithms to imbue machines with the human capacity for contemplation, judgement, and intention.
Choosing to use ‘training a dog’ as an analogy for artificial intelligence, I was happy when a pupil asked, ‘dogs understand, what happens if the machine does not do as commanded?’ The young lad through imagination and uninhibited curiosity had grasped the concept well enough to ask a very crucial question in the Artificial Intelligence/ machine learning debate. At that moment I was reminded of my childhood curiosity for life and the power of imagination. Also, two of Sadhguru’s quotes about education came to mind. The first one is, “Education is about making a child grow with an uncluttered intelligence”. The second is, “Education can never be a profession – it must be a passion.”
My interaction with the children and staff of Sadhguru School spoke to those two quotes. Speaking to one of the third-generation owners of Ndali estate and overseer of the school, you get to understand that passion. She will be the first to tell you that she is no expert in education. And yet she has put together a passionate team to provide holistic education in a rural setting - ensuring that each pupil’s spiritual, intellectual and physical development needs are met. Listening to one of the Directors speak of her research for the school’s current and future strategy; to the Art teacher (a professional photographer), and to the school's IT specialist pointing out pupils that want to build computers, I got that floating-above feeling of seeing one’s life as part of a wider tapestry.
I was in awe of my surroundings; grateful for the hospitality and the opportunity to be inspired; and in the wonder of my purpose in the Sadhguru School odyssey.