Our Principal Mary Roy is known for her sashay into the legal world of Intestate Inheritance. Christian women in Kerala were denied Equal Rights of Inheritance. She challenged the Travancore Succession Act of 1916 which was struck down and now, sons and daughters are given equal rights

How it all began . . . . . In an interview Mary Roy was asked why she started Pallikoodam….

At the age of thirty, I was clueless about a profession. What suddenly jolted me was this incident.  My son was seven years old, studying in Grade II of Lushington which was a British School in  Ooty. He came home every day with  pieces of handwork, drawings, or a few lines written on half sheets of paper. There was never any homework. He was a happy child. Unfortunately, he began to identify himself  with the British. When he talked about ‘those Indian children’ I realized it was time for him to change schools. So he was admitted in Breeks High School He came home carrying a bag with sixteen notebooks and ten textbooks. He put them down on the floor and wept! This was my first glimpse of what was wrong with education in India. I got permission to observe the Junior Classes at Lushington. Studies were low-key. Self-learning  was encouraged with lots of discussion and lots of activity. It was  understood  that even if a child missed routine class, he must not be absent from games. A look at the end product (i.e. a student in Grade XII) convinced me that the Lushington boys were sturdy, confident and had absorbed their lessons to a point which equipped them for life. Their Indian counterparts were overburdened with text book knowledge and lacked confidence. It was clear that my destiny was to become a school teacher. Very soon, I realized that school teachers were not allowed to do what they were taught  in Colleges of Education . They had to toe the line drawn by School Management Boards and Principals whose main  desire was to please parents and get students to perform well at Examinations at any cost. The only way out was to start my own school where I would be the Board and the Principal. And that’s how I started Pallikoodam with seven students at a Hall leased to me by the Rotary Club of Kottayam.

The numbers grew. I met the magical architect, Laurie Baker who agreed to build my Dream School if I would admit his daughter, Heidi Baker and so is the dream campus with its serpentine roads, that twist and turn through the most exotic buildings and trees !.  Exciting for children, parents and teachers,  and for me! Together we have realized that the less students mug textbooks, the more fun they have, and the more they learn. Students do the first exam in the third term of grade VIII and this is only because there is a Public Exam looming in Std. X.

More about Pallikoodam

Children are encouraged to speak in Malayalam which, if you remember is our mother tongue. We have found that using Malayalam as the medium of instruction in lower classes leads to a significant increase in self-confidence and stimulates imagination. Once they have a proper grounding in their own language and culture, then learning English is no longer a dreaded chore. The children sing old Malayalam ‘Tharattu’ which were re-discovered and resurrected from cold storage. We also teach Carnatic Music. Teachers are addressed as ‘Chechi’ or ‘Kochamma.’ ‘Ammachy’ is a term specially reserved for Sneha Z and Mary Roy (Sr.) because of their great age ! We greet each other with folded hands and a namaskaram. It feels good ! In the Nursery Class and Stds. I to IV, instruction is completely informal. Little pupils sit on the ground in groups, and a single class can tackle three different subjects simultaneously. Teachers move from one group to another encouraging self learning and experiment.