Anandalakshmy took a B.A. and M.A. in Economics and a B.T. (B.Ed) from the University of Madras. By reason of getting involved in children’s education, she went to the US on a Smith-Mundt Fulbright scholarship, where she received a Master’s degree in Child Development at Bryn Mawr College. Later, she qualified for a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, while on an East-West Center fellowship.
She was responsible for establishing and heading Vidya Mandir, a school in Chennai, where she used a creative and non-competitive approach in teaching and management for a few years. The school continues to be a landmark institution in the city. Later she joined Lady Irwin College (Delhi University), where she planned, established and headed the post-graduate course in Child Development from 1970 to 1983.The preschool centre called after Rajkumari Amrit Kaur was attached to the Department of Child Development and became the focus for many innovative studies. She set up an adjunct, The Enabling Centre, which admitted Primary-age children with mild and moderate disabilities. This was supported by the HRD Ministry. Subsequently, she served as the Director of the Lady Irwin College from 1983 to 1991.
Academic Assignments outside India
She has traveled widely in India and outside to fulfill several academic commitments, including advising UNICEF programmes in Maldives, Indonesia and Afghanistan. She has been a Visiting Scholar of the Maison des Sciences de l’ Hommes in Paris and an invitee of the Asia Society in the USA, in the eighties and of the University of Edinburgh’s Summer Institute in 1989 and 1991. She has participated in Seminars and given talks at several Universities, among them, Chicago, Columbia, Harvard and Oxford. She participated actively as a member of the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s global team studying early childhood in countries round the world, from 1998 to 2001. In more recent years, her travel included a visit to Beijing for a Conference organized by UNICEF (2005) and meetings at Montreal and Vancouver in 2006 as a member of the Knowledge Network on Early Childhood, sponsored by the World Health Organization.
Work with NGOs and Schools
She had an active part in the Mobile Creches from its inception in 1969 to the late eighties. She continues to work in an advisory capacity with some voluntary organizations in India: Volontariat in Pondicherry, and Bala Mandir in Chennai, helping with policy decisions and advising on programmes for young children. She is currently on the Executive Committee of two Krishnamurty schools: Rishi Valley in A.P. and Pathashaala in Tamil Nadu.
Research and Publications
She has done several studies in the areas of Socialization, Cognitive Development in Infancy and Status of the Girl Child. These were supported by the ICSSR or by the concerned ministries in the Government. Her articles on education and children and book reviews have been published in a variety of journals, in The Hindu and in “Folio” of The Hindu.
In 2007, she was actively involved in documenting an innovative method in the State-run schools of Tamil Nadu and made two short documentary films titled “The Silent Revolution” and “Active Learning”. She served as the Consulting Editor for the book “Child Development” published by Doctor NDTV and Byword Books in 2007. She is also the co-Editor (with Nandita Chowdhary and Neerja Sharma) of “Researching Families and Children” published by SAGE in 2008. In 2014, her chapter “Introspections on Culture” was included in the Routledge volume edited by Nandita Chaudhary, S. Anandalakshmy and J. Valsiner,”Cultural Realities of Being.” A long essay, “Through the Lens of Culture” found a place in “Psychology and Psychoanalysis” edited by Girishwar Misra (Vol XIII in the D. P. Chattopadhyaya series on History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization). She has recently compiled some of her writings over the years in a volume called “Thinking with the Heart” which is available on request, as a file (PDF) on the net.
Involvement in Public Causes
In 2007, she was a member of Concerned Citizens’ Committee formed in Chennai to look into the practice of schools disallowing children who complete the 10th Class, from entering the 11th in their own schools. A PIL filed by her was effective. Today, CBSE schools and Govt. schools in Tamil Nadu are bound by law, to let their students continue in the same school till they complete the 12th year and not be treated as pawns in the race of the schools for the ‘best results’.