After being a volunteer teacher in a village school in Anaimalai, TN, Amukta worked at the Krishnamurti Foundation India school in Chennai when it was started. This was followed by organising learning centers for children from the fishing community and for other working children. Alongside, she started the Mandara Resource Centre for training teachers in alternative education practices (1980 – 1984).
In 1987 she set up the Abacus School in Chennai where for the first time in India, in recent years, Montessori ideas of education were applied right up to the elementary level while following the mainstream syllabus (1987 –1995). Invited by the Education Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, she developed pedagogy and a module for training on a large scale, with the programme named the ‘Professional Development of the Teacher Educator’. In this programme, from 2001 to 2002, she trained the DIET (District Institute for Education and Training) faculty, teachers, academic and administrative supervisors across the state. This was taken to all the elementary teachers and different cadres in the state by the department in the following years. Many of the practices from this programme have been incorporated into the ABL pedagogy adopted by the state. She has worked on several national and international committees on education. She received Best Teacher’s Award from ‘Lady Kalyani Sivaswami Ayyar Best Teacher Award’, 2001.
She has the following to say about her chosen vocation, “While growing up in a joint-family, I enjoyed being with younger children and at fifteen decided that I wanted to be a teacher. Not interested in doing the regular B.Ed available next to my school, I wanted to do a Montessori training (I do not know where and how I came across that name). In my quest, I wrote to several magazines and newspapers to know where the programme was available in India. The Montessori training gave me a philosophical and a practical base for an understanding of children and their development. My training at Neel Bagh under David Horsburgh (pronounced as horse-burrow) helped me to learn a variety of skills, theories and approaches, and to work with different age groups and adults.
The overall purpose of my work is to make education meaningful for the individual and for the community, in the context of the wider cultural and social reality of the country. I would like to enable educators to understand the potential that children have within them for conceptual clarity while learning, and, that an appropriate environment allows for spontaneous learning.
The Blue Mountains School is an alternative school, celebrating fifty years in 2011.