An Ode to Sincere Education

John Koshy, freshly graduated from Rishi Valley, talks of what education in RV meant to him, and what sets it apart from the rest.

The function of education is not to help the young conform to this rotten society, but to be free of its influences so that they may create a new society, a different world.   

Jiddu Krishnamurthi [Chennai, 1956]

In my first year in Rishi Valley, a visiting couple posed this question to my class: ‘Is there really something unique and special about your school or is it just a cake that looks really attractive on the outside but tastes like any other cake on the inside?’

It’s been five years since and honestly, I never did manage to come up with a satisfying response to that question or to any of a similar kind (in my passionate defense, before I’m written off as being incapable of generating a normal rational thought process, I spent most of my time in school like most other kids doing things, apart from wondering what made it so special). Retrospectively however, having graduated from school a mere four weeks back and now moving on to higher academia, the question has gained a certain relevance and importance as it essentially helps in establishing benchmarks by which one can view and judge future institutions.

Rishi Valley is not a supernatural institution. The misconception must be cleared at the very onset itself. Like any other institution in our country it too faces a common set of inhibitions and challenges at every level. Chronic problems like the strain of having to rush to complete the prescribed syllabus, pre-examination tensions (and in some cases, post-examination tensions as well),  student behavioral issues, financial issues and so on and so forth are very much part of the school’s daily running. In a sense that is the very beauty of it all. The fact that it is so like and yet in a lot of special ways very unlike.

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Folki (Folk Dance) has been a beloved tradition among the students of Rishi Valley for what seems like forever. Every weekend, students of senior school as well as a few of the staff members, come together to sing and dance to a collection of about 50 folk songs that have been collected over the decades. Here’s the entire collection – for you to listen, enjoy and share.

Download all (rar archive, 180 MB)  | Do tell us if you find any difficulty in listening to or downloading the songs.

For those who might find it useful, here’s our public Folki Songs Dropbox folder, where all songs are stored separately instead of as one big RAR file: Folki Songs.

You can listen to the songs online and download individual songs using the player below. You will find the entire collection in the download links above, including a couple that we couldn’t quite manage to fit in here. If you want anything, feel free to leave a comment right here, drop us an email, or get in touch on Facebook.

Courtesy Ira Agrawal, ISC 2007, Rishi Valley School.

The after-RV-life

Aditi Parekh, maverick unschooler, shares her perspective of RV from the outside, and how she “began to carry RV with [her].”


Not exactly, but it’s been a year since RV. A year that took me as far away from RV as it did bring me closer.

It started out with grimness — what else, when you are requested to leave a place you love. A lot like being dumped. I tried to start again, but that’s hardly easy when a hundred ties to the past refuse to let you go… when you refuse to let go.

They gave me a new room and a phone but I still wanted my messy First room and tactfully acquired phone chits.
They gave me amazing food (such a winning point after DH ka khaana!) but I still wanted to cook my lousy maggi and eat it And clear up all evidence of having done so.
They gave me superiority — but I kept harping about equality of students and not wanting the evil Captain badge.
They gave me freedom, love and so many choices… but I still longed for RV.

There was only so much I could sulk and cry — eventually they did lure me out and away from my RV Prejudice. There began a fresh insight into my past. Amazingly enough, I got over RV. I got over that lover who had dumped me and moved on without me — and just like the fresh-lease-of-life movie scene, that longing, pain and pessimism turned into a new core of ideas, values, a way of life, within me.

I began to carry RV with me.

It ceased to be an exclusive set of physical entities and ideas attached to them — for example, Asthachal in the valley, folkie and all the illegal stuff — and transcended to what all those things represent — the beauty of silence and nature, community and experiences that go beyond established rules, respectively.

I dug out the experiences and unearthed just the essence of everything that RV is made of. Stripping all else that has been hiding and changing that essence – and what’s left is unlimited by space and time. If and when an ex – RV-ite finds this dawning realization, I believe that he or she has understood RV. And if he or she can carry that essence and sprinkle it on their conditions, then they have found RV.

I am still terribly attached to the place and people but I’ve found ways to channel RV into everything — twenty minutes of silence every evening, taking turns doing the chores and questioning everything — I have found my RV.

Aditi spent three years, from her 8th to her 10th, at RV, during 2008-2011.