Lina Ashar: Redefining the Learning Arc and Making Learning Accessible for Children
Lina Ashar

On the surfboard of the internet, information is something that keeps on moving in a circle, coming back again to remind us about the almost forgotten knowledge. And children are stuck on the screens consuming and collecting information and knowledge uninterrupted and unfiltered for their young and budding minds.

Traditionally, childhood was seen as a phase where it was a joy being a child and learning the way the world works in an interesting and indulging manner. However, despite the fact that the popularity of the internet is immensely increasing among children, the learning arc of the children is observed to be lost somewhere in the process.

Addressing this specific need of the modern-day education system, Lina Ashar, a prominent educator on a mission to help children holistically complete their learning arc, started Dreamtime Learning. She is the Founder of this online or virtual learning platform, where the platform focuses on learning and making the learning process fun for children.

And in an indulging exchange of words with The Knowledge Review, Lina Ashar shares her and Dreamtime Learning’s story and how it holistically influences children’s learning arc.

So, let’s dive deep into the curious story of Lina Ashar.

Please tell us about your professional journey since the beginning of your career.

Before moving to Australia, I did my primary schooling in England, where I acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Melbourne’s Victoria College. In 1991, I came to India on a year-long sabbatical from college.

While connecting with my roots, I landed up taking a teaching stint at a prestigious heritage school in suburban Mumbai. This experience changed my life and led to the burning question, “How can she bring back the joy of childhood for the children in India?”

Back then, the education system in India was still grappling with a straitjacketed approach to education. It was robbing children of their childhood. I was appalled by a lacklustre system of education that upheld only the highflyers. Crammed classrooms, disinterested students, and overstressed parents inspired me to work on a model of education that was fulfilling, effective, and yet stress-free.

That’s when I started Kangaroo Kids preschool; after that, it has been an upward journey and this year, I launched Dreamtime Learning.

Tell us the vision, mission, and core values of the organization/institute.

The mission of Dreamtime Learning is to provide greater access to quality learning that will allow each learner in the learning ecosystem to become the best version of themselves at a demonetized price. The learning design is based on the science of learning. It uses the basis of brain and behavioural science and skills needed by learners based on the shift the economy and world will experience based on technology.

The organization’s core values are “Purpose, Growth Mindset, Courage, Transparency, and Sustainability.”

And the Vision statement states, “To create empowered thought leaders who will lead the world to a more conscious, connected and abundant future.”

Being a prominent leader, what significant contribution have you made to Indian education space for the upliftment of society?

In 1993 I started Kangaroo Kids, a learner-centric preschool focused on learning while having fun and not just for an interview to get admission to a well-known school. When parents saw the difference, they wanted a higher education school, too, so we started Billabong High. We have been the pioneers in changing the education scene. We created a learner-centric, neuroscience-based experiential curriculum and also worked on all-around learning where children were also introduced to Sports and Performing Arts and many other institutes that have followed our model.

We look to disrupt the perception of learning, schooling and education yet again. Why is the transformation of the education system urgent now? We argue that the world is at an inflexion point. Climate change, the changing nature of work, increasing conflict and authoritarianism, and the urgency of COVID recovery have made the transformation agenda more critical than ever.

We will also be engaging with our Australian family company, Simba Global, which will donate five per cent of its profits to educate children that cannot afford our subsidized fees. Simba Global will provide children with the technology. Dreamtime Learning will provide the learning system at no cost to the end learner.

What challenges you came across in your career, and how did you overcome them?

When we started Kangaroo Kids, education was all about rote learning and scoring well. It was difficult to convince parents initially. However, once they experience the difference, they become our advocates and brand ambassadors. Also, running a business comes with its issues, and despite all the hurdles, our only focus was to make learning fun and experiential for children. With a team that believed in this vision, we crossed all the hurdles that came our way.

I am going through the same process with our online school, Dreamtime Learning; however, I am sure once parents and children experience the learning difference, they will become our brand ambassadors.

As an inspiring leader, what difference you made in your segment, and how did it help the upcoming generation?

As mentioned earlier, we have been the pioneers in the education space, and the new education system one sees in place today is my contribution to the segment. The generation that was educated in the last two decades has experienced the difference; a lot of our students are well-placed professionals, artists and sportspeople. If you see, the most sought-after jobs today are the ones that did not exist a decade before, and we made sure children were introduced to them so that they could choose what they wanted to do in life.

According to you, which activities the Indian education should conduct on the campuses to indulge the necessary skills in students?

Education is all about wholesome learning, and there are a lot of things schools should be teaching children; some of them are:

  • How to manage and regulate your emotions and reactions
  • How to manage your finances and how to save
  • How to manage uncertainty
  • How to work in teams and collaborate with people
  • How to focus on your life journey rather than fall into a rat race of wanting to go ahead of another
  • How to enjoy nature and family time
  • How to balance work and personal life
  • How to prioritize one’s mental well being
  • How to use digitization to our advantage and beware of its superficial nature.

We have created a learning system that is the science of learning driven and intersects in these three areas. Neuroscience of learning and development, behavioural science of learning and development and the future context of understanding what will be needed to thrive emotionally, financially, cognitively and physically.

As an inspiring leader, what are the things that keep motivating you to make a difference in the country?

My vision is to take quality education to every child across the country; this desire keeps me going, and I work towards my goal. Technology is a medium that has helped me reach cities I hadn’t been able to in the past, and I am now working towards reaching out to more such cities.

How do you inspire the youth to become fearless and inspirational leaders to create innovative changes in the country?

When children find their calling, or Ikigai as they call it, they ask the important why questions and look for solutions and innovative ways to cross hurdles that come their way. Children are motivated to work towards getting better at it on a daily basis. So, in my school, they are encouraged to find their calling.

What advice would you provide to future generations to become inspiring leaders?

The future is uncertain, and the one thing the future generation will need to do is become lifelong learners. They will need to upgrade and upskill themselves at all times to be ahead of everyone else, as the rate at which things change will be 10X faster than today. The future generation will also need to think creatively, become problem solvers, and become team players. So, they need to work on these skills as of today so that they can thrive in their lives.

How do you envision your future as a successful and inspiring leader?

I am an educator at heart, and I will keep exploring new ways to educate children so that they can benefit from the process.

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